Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes one's chest to tighten?"
My dad sometimes gets what he calls a tightness in his chest. He downplays it, but I can tell it makes him pretty uncomfortable. He says there are no other symptoms, and he's on the fence about seeing a doctor. Should we? What are the serious dangers, here? This has been happening for months.
Very important question. YOUR DAD NEEDS TO SEE A DOCTOR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Chest tightness or heaviness is also known as angina. It is usually caused by decreased blood flow to the heart from blockages in the coronary arteries. When patients experience chest pain that comes on with exertion and leaves with rest we call that stable angina. When patients experience it without exertion, we call that unstable angina. In both cases, this is a sign that the patient is a risk of a myocardial infarction also known as a heart attack. Blockages in the coronary arteries are extremely common in men over the age of 50 in the United States. Your dad needs to be evaluated first by his primary care physician to insure there are no other causes of his chest pain. Afterwards, his physician will either order a stress test (if the diagnosis is somewhat in question) or perhaps a heart catheterization. In addition, there are certain medications that he must be on to reduce the likelihood of him developing a heart attack. It is always better to find these blockages early and get them treated before they cause heart damage. Good luck and I hope your dad feels better.
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