When you experience chest pain, it can be hard to pinpoint what is making your chest hurt. It can be very hard to tell if your chest pain is heart-related or if it is being caused by something else. You may not even be sure that what you are feeling is chest pain. What is chest pain, and when is it time to see a doctor?


Chest Pain Symptoms

Chest pain is any type of pain or discomfort in your chest. The pain may be sharp or dull, or it might feel more like pressure or tightness. Chest pain sometimes feels like a burning sensation. The onset can be sudden or slow. It can last for seconds to minutes or hours. It may even come and go periodically. Pain can be felt in a single spot or across a wider area of your chest. Chest pain also varies in intensity from mild to severe. The pain may worsen or improve with changes in body position or how you breathe. It can also spread to other areas of your torso, neck, jaw and arms.


Causes of Chest Pain

There are many reasons people experience chest pain. Most of the time, it is not caused by heart problems. Potential causes of chest pain include:


  • Heartburn
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Chest injury (muscle strain, bruising or broken rib)
  • Costochondritis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallstones
  • Shingles
  • Heart attack
  • Other heart conditions, such as pericarditis and aortic dissection
  • Lung disorders, including pneumonia, pleurisy, pulmonary embolism or pulmonary hypertension
  • Panic attacks


When To See A Doctor For Chest Pain

If you experience chest pain (especially if it is new for you), make an appointment to see your doctor. This includes chest pain that comes and goes, or chest pain that is recurrent with certain activities. Even if your chest pain is mild or infrequent, don’t ignore it. It is important to visit your healthcare provider for a checkup.


If you think that you or someone else may be having a heart attack, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room immediately. Chest pain from a heart attack often comes on suddenly and lasts for more than five minutes. Don’t delay! Seek urgent medical attention!



The team at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists consists of North Louisiana’s leading experts in cardiovascular care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (318) 798-9400.