What could be causing chest pain for weeks
Chest pain can have a number of causes
Chest pain often makes people think of a heart attack and scares many patients. But the symptoms can also have other causes. With this article we want to explain to you which complaints can be behind chest pain.
The heart as a trigger
Pressing pain or tightness behind the breastbone, in the area of the left half of the thorax, possibly radiating to the left arm or the lower jaw, indicate an acute heart disease and an emergency. If the pain increases under stress, the heart can also be responsible here. Stressful situations can lead to circulatory disorders in the coronary arteries (angina pectoris). However, typical symptoms are not always present.
Sharp chest pain can also indicate heart problems, such as inflammation of the pericardium or myocardium. Particularly in women or patients with diabetes mellitus, however, characteristic symptoms may be absent. For example, a more or less pronounced shortness of breath can develop as a chest pain equivalent. These symptoms should be urgently clarified by a doctor in order to rule out serious illnesses or, if necessary, to treat them.
Heart valve diseases, high blood pressure or congenital heart muscle diseases are also possible causes of chest pain in the heart. Various forms of cardiac arrhythmias or palpitations can also be perceived subjectively as chest pain.
Take special care in combination with infections
If you feel less productive after a flu-like infection, the air is scarce during light exertion, the pulse rises faster and sharp chest pain occurs, it may be an inflammation of the heart muscle or pericardium. Not all of the symptoms mentioned have to be present for this, sometimes just a single symptom occurs. In rare cases, this can lead to dangerous cardiac arrhythmias, deterioration in cardiac output or pericardial tamponade (severe impairment of the heart's activity due to the accumulation of inflammatory fluid in the pericardium). It is therefore advisable to have a cardiological evaluation at an early stage. Then such an inflammation of the heart muscle usually heals completely.
Adjacent organs and structures
Lungs, esophagus, main artery, abdomen or back / ribs: Diseases and disorders of the organs and structures that are close to the heart can also make themselves felt as chest pain.
Sharp pain is usually caused by the chest itself or the back. Pressure on the painful area increases the discomfort, for example in the case of a broken rib / bruised rib.
Muscle tension, nerve irritation or functional chest problems (Da Costa syndrome) as well as Tietze syndrome (painful swelling at the bone-cartilage border of the upper ribs) are also often expressed as stabbing chest pain.
If the pain is most severe in the chest or abdomen, it may be an aortic dissection (tear in the vessel wall of the main artery). In such cases, action must be taken quickly. Furthermore, diseases of the lungs and pulmonary membrane can be associated with different pains and often breathing-dependent complaints. A pulmonary embolism can be indicated by shortness of breath, painful breathing and bloody sputum.
Problems with the esophagus such as heartburn (caused by gastric acid reflux into the esophagus) can lead to burning, ascending pain behind the breastbone.
Psychological causes or stress can also express themselves through chest pain, for example by causing nerve irritation through muscle tension. Rheumatism and related diseases can also be involved in the heart.
That is why prevention is so important
If chest pain occurs or for preventive examinations from the age of 40 (earlier in the case of risk factors such as heart attack of a close family member), a thorough cardiological examination is recommended in order to be able to identify and treat possible causes of chest pain in good time.
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