Introduction

Chest  pain
Chest  pain

Most chest pain isn't a sign of anything serious but you should get medical advice just in case. Get immediate medical help if you think you're having a heart attack.

Call 999 if you have sudden chest pain that:

  • spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw
  • makes your chest feel tight or heavy
  • also started with shortness of breath, sweating and feeling or being sick
  • lasts more than 15 minutes

You could be having a heart attack. Call 999 immediately as you need immediate treatment in hospital.

See a GP if:

  • you have chest pain that comes and goes
  • you have chest pain that goes away quickly but you're still worried

It's important to get medical advice to make sure it's nothing serious.

Common causes of chest pain

Chest pain has many different causes - only the most common are listed below. In most cases, chest pain is not caused by a heart problem.

Your symptoms might give you an idea of the cause. Don't self-diagnose - see your GP if you're worried.

Chest pain symptoms and possible causes

  • Starts after eating, bringing up food or bitter tasting fluids, feeling full and bloated - possible cause could be heartburn or indigestion
  • Starts after chest injury or chest exercise, feels better when resting the muscle - possible cause could be chest sprain or strain
  • Triggered by worries or a stressful situation, heartbeat gets faster, sweating, dizziness - possible cause could be anxiety or panic attack
  • Gets worse when you breathe in and out, coughing up yellow or green mucus, high temperature - possible cause could be chest infection or pneumonia
  • Tingling feeling on skin, skin rash appears that turns into blisters - possible cause could be shingles

Chest pain and heart problems

The most common heart problems that cause pain include:

  • pericarditis - which usually causes a sudden, sharp, stabbing pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or lie down
  • angina or a heart attack - which have similar symptoms but a heart atttack is life-threatening

You're more likely to have heart problems if you're older or know you're at risk of coronary heart disease.

For example, if you:

  • smoke
  • are very overweight (obese)
  • have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol
  • have a history of heart attack or angina in family members under 60 years old
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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS Choices.
Last Updated: 02/10/2018 13:08:28