If you are experiencing chest pain, please call our emergency room immediately. We have multiple diagnostic tools at our ER to help determine the cause of your pain so that we can offer you the best method of treatment. Chest pain might be life-threatening and it’s important that you be seen by a medical doctor immediately to diagnose the causes. Visit the closest ER.
Tests to Identify the Cause of Chest Pain
We have several methods that we can use to identify the cause of your chest pain. These include:
- Echocardiogram – This test is an ultrasound, which means that it uses sound waves to produce an image of your heart. An echocardiogram will allow us to see the thickness of your heart’s wall, and we will be able to determine whether your heart is enlarged. The test can also help us see if your heart is pumping blood as it should.
- Electrocardiogram – An electrocardiogram is also known as an EKG or ECG, and it uses electrodes to determine your heart’s electrical activity. This test will help us determine if you have had a heart attack or if you have symptoms of heart disease.
- Coronary angiogram – This test allows us to see your arteries and any blockages that may be affecting blood flow. We will use a catheter to inject dye, and then an X-ray machine will take images of the dye’s movement through your arteries.
- Cardiac enzyme measurements – When we measure the amount of proteins and enzymes in your blood, we may be able to determine if you have had a heart attack. We will draw your blood and use our lab to take cardiac enzyme measurements.
- Chest X-ray – We may take an X-ray of your chest to help us determine the cause of your chest pain. The images help us to see your lungs, the size of your heart, the blood vessels and any medical devices that you may have to help your heart work properly.
- Chest CT scans – A CT scan of your chest will allow us to see a cross-sectional image of your heart, which will give us more detailed information about its size and function. You will lie on a table that moves into the tunnel of the CT machine, and the machine will use X-rays to capture images of your chest.
Chest pain is defined as a pressure or strange feeling in the chest. This is sometimes accompanied with sweating, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, lightheadedness or sudden weakness, a fast or irregular heartbeat. If you are experiencing chest pain, go immediately to the nearest emergency room.
Common Causes of Chest Pain
There are many medical diagnoses that can cause chest pain.
- Heart attack – caused by a blood clot that blocks blood flow to your heart muscle
- Angina – Over time thick plaques can build up on your arteries’ inner walls which carry blood to the heart. This can narrow the arteries and end up restricting the heart’s blood supply.
- Aortic dissection – This is a life-threatening condition that affects your aorta – your main artery from your heart. When the inner layers of this blood vessel separate, blood is forced between the layers and can cause the aorta to rupture.
- Pericarditis – This is a short-lived inflammation of the sac surrounding your heart that is often related to a viral infection.
- Heartburn – When stomach acid washes up from your stomach into the esophagus it causes a painful, burning sensation behind the breastbone
- Swallowing disorders – Disorders of the esophagus can make swallowing difficult and painful
- Gallbladder or pancreas problems – Gallstones or inflammation of your gallbladder or pancreas can cause abdominal pain that radiates to your chest
Muscle and bone causes
- Costochondritis – The cartilage that joins your ribs to your breastbone becomes inflamed and painful
- Sore muscles – Chronic pain syndromes, like fibromyalgia can produce persistent muscle-related chest pain
- Injured ribs – A bruised or broken rib can cause chest pain
- Pulmonary embolism – When a blood clot becomes lodged in a lung artery it blocks blood flow to the lung tissue
- Pleurisy – If the membrane that covers your lungs becomes inflamed, it can cause chest pain that gets worse when you inhale or a cough
- Collapsed lung – This type of chest pain can come on suddenly and last for hours. A collapsed lung occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and the ribs
- Pulmonary hypertension – High blood pressure in the arteries carrying blood to the lungs can cause chest pain other causes:
- Panic attacks – Intense fear accompanied by rapid heartbeat, breathing, profuse sweating, shortness of breath, and chest pain
- Shingles – This is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. This can cause pain and a band of blisters from your back around to the chest wall.
If you’re experiencing chest pain, please visit one of our emergency room locations. We are here to help 24/7. Schedule an emergency room appointment with us.