Causes of chest pain
There are a number of different conditions that can cause chest pain. You should always seek medical advice to make sure you get a proper diagnosis.
Depending on your symptoms and circumstances, you may need further investigation.
A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart is suddenly blocked.
Chest pain is more likely to be caused by a heart attack if it:
- lasts more than 15 minutes
- occurs while resting
Angina is a condition where the blood supply to the muscles of the heart is restricted.
Chest pain caused by angina is usually triggered by physical activity (exertion). It usually gets better with rest after a few minutes.
A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs. This can cause sharp, stabbing chest pain that may get worse when you breathe in. It can also be accompanied by:
- a cough
- coughing up blood
Pericarditis is inflammation of the sac surrounding your heart. This can cause a sudden, sharp and stabbing pain in your chest. It may also cause more of a dull ache. This pain usually gets worse when you lie down.
Lung conditions that can cause chest pain include:
- pneumonia – inflammation of the lungs (usually caused by an infection)
- pleurisy – inflammation of the membrane surrounding the lungs (usually caused by an infection)
Conditions affecting the lungs can cause sharp chest pain that:
- gets worse when you breathe in and out
- is accompanied by other symptoms like coughing or breathlessness
If someone has severe pneumonia or pleurisy, they may also have symptoms like:
- rapid breathing