ZocdocAnswers"Random, sharp pain in the chest - Is it a sign of something serious?"

Question

"Random, sharp pain in the chest - Is it a sign of something serious?"

A few times out of the year I sometimes receive a random and sharp pain in my chest, which I associate with my heart. I am unsure if this is happening in the cardiac region, as I haven't spoken about it to a cardiologist just yet. After a quick search on the Internet, I discovered that it could be an angina, as the symptoms sounded very close to what I sometimes experience. I don't receive any symptoms of a heart attack and it only causes a discomfort occasionally. Afterwards I am able to resume my tasks as I normally would. What could this pain be?

Answer

You should assume that any chest pain you experience is due to a heart problem until you have been seen in person and fully evaluated by a physician. This is because heart disease is very common, can cause a wide variety of symptoms (usually including chest pain), and is a significant health problem that should be detected and treated as soon as possible. Your chest pain may not be due to your heart, but potential heart disease is not something that should be left up to chance. You should be seen by a primary care physician or cardiologist as soon as possible. People frequently describe cardiac chest pain as pressure or pain below the breastbone that sometimes radiates to the left side of the chest and sometimes even to the neck or left arm. However, there is significant variability in the way cardiac chest pain is described by each individual patient, so it is difficult to rule out a heart problem by the characteristics of the pain alone. Regarding the pattern of your chest pain, cardiac chest pain usually occurs with exertion (called stable angina), but it can also occur at random (called unstable angina), and this type of chest pain signifies a more severe problem with the blood flow to the heart. Because of the many ways cardiac chest pain can present, all patients should be seen by a primary care physician or cardiologist as soon as possible so that diagnostic tests such as blood tests, an EKG, and other more advanced studies can be performed to evaluate blood flow to the heart. Any person that develops chest pain that does not go away should chew and swallow one 375 mg aspirin tablet and call 911 for immediate transfer to a hospital.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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