Most often sharp pain in the chest causes immense panic to the patient and concerned caretakers as the first thing that strikes the mind is an oncoming cardiac arrest. Although chest pain is certainly a probable indication of a heart attack but there may be other underlying causes for the ache as well.
Intense chest pain could stem from not only the heart, but other organs also such as lungs, esophagus, stomach, muscles, bone or skin. Moreover, the exact location of the chest pain with reference to the side of its origin in the chest that is right or left part of chest also plays a significant role in the evaluation of its cause.
One of the primary causes of acute chest pain along with other symptoms such as discomfort or ache in the back, neck, jaw, shoulders, arms, and particularly the left arm; breathlessness, perspiration, giddiness and sickness may point towards a cardiac arrest. Angina, a medical condition characterized by decreased blood flow to the heart is known to result in chest pain lasting for a few minutes. Other causes that can lead to severe chest pain include swelling of the pericarditis, aortic dissection and coronary artery spasm.
Very often a chest pain which is not originating from the heart region is caused due to heartburn. Characterized by a sensation of burning, this pain normally occurs after a meal and lingers for many hours. Chest pain could also be a consequence of a panic attack. Other signs experienced by the patient during a panic attack include increased rate of heartbeat and breathing, intense perspiration and breathlessness. Inflammation of the chest cavity membrane and the cartilage of the ribcage, known as pleurisy and costochondritis respectively, are also plausible causes of severe pain in the chest. Other non-cardiac reasons for chest pain include disorders such as achalasia and shingles, and problems associated with the gall bladder and pancreas.
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