Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Do spasms under the breastbone indicate a heart problem?"

ZocdocAnswersDo spasms under the breastbone indicate a heart problem?


Ever so often I have sharp pain just underneath my breastbone. My heart beats normal during this time, but I'm afraid this may point to some type of heart issue.


Yes, spasms or pain under the breastbone can indicate a heart problem. There are a wide variety of problems that can cause chest pain under the breastbone, the most serious among these are heart conditions, which is why you should be seen by a doctor. Often when the heart is deprived of blood temporarily due to a blockage of the coronary arteries, a sensation of chest pain or pressure occurs, most commonly below the breastbone or on the left side of the chest radiating down the arm. If a coronary artery gets permanently blocked, the heart muscle begins to die and this is called a "heart attack" or myocardial infarction. Heart attacks produce similar chest pain symptoms that do not go away. Most of the time, these kinds of heart problems will only produce chest pain or shortness of breath and no irregularities in the heart beat will be felt. Chest pain should never be ignored. Because any chest pain, even if it is temporary, can be the sign of an impending heart attack, every patient experiencing this symptom should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. The best place to start is by seeing a primary care doctor, who will refer you to a cardiologist if needed. If you experience chest pain that does not go away, chew and then swallow one 325 mg tablet of aspirin (if possible, not the enteric coated variety) and call 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest hospital immediately.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.