Chest tightness is an utter uncomfortable situation that includes pain in and around your chest and moves down till the upper portion of the stomach. In most cases it signifies an anxiety attack and a possible warning symptom of heart attack in people above 35 to 40 years of age.
Symptoms associated with chest tightness
Simply put, chest tightness can be defined as chest pain as well. Apart from sensing discomfort in the chest, there are several other symptoms associated with it which depend on the underlying cause.
They are as follows:
- Shooting pain in chest
- Shortness of breath
- Palpitations or fluttering in chest
- Irregular heart beat
- ncreased heart rate
- Panic, dizziness and anxiety feelings
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Fever chills rashes due to infection
- Breathing heavily
- Pain in back, arm, jaws and stiffness
Note: Why to delay for a medical check up? Call or visit your doctor if you sense pressure and pain in your chest as well as the aforementioned symptoms.
Causes of Chest Tightness
Chest tightness can occur from a number of reasons ranging from heart problems to gastrointestinal disorders. Let’s check out:
- High blood pressure/hypertension
- Heart malfunctioning due to infection and inflammation (Endocarditis and pericarditis)
- Congestive heart failure
- Anxiety attack, hyperventilation
- Heart attack
- Coronary artery disease like atherosclerosis and angina
- Asthma, bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Pulmonary edema
- GERD, heartburn
- Pulmonary embolism
- Hiatal hernia
- Esophageal spasm
- Peptic ulcer
- Chest injury, trauma, sprain
- Pancreas diseases
Risks associated with Chest Tightness
Delay in treatment and neglecting the pain may push one to life threatening conditions which could be respiratory failure, cardiac arrest and sepsis. Probability of rapid depletion of oxygen levels and increase of CO2 levels can be fatal for an individual.
Diagnosis of Chest tightness
Chest tightness is a symptom that needs diagnosis. Your doctor may suggest you a wide array of tests associated with your heart functionality and several other tests for diagnosing the condition of your lungs, kidneys, etc.
The diagnostic measures applied are:
- Normal x-ray of the chest
- Blood tests for measuring cardiac enzymes and CBC test
- Kidney function test
- Blood glucose test
- Stress tests
- MRI, CT scan, Angiogram for diagnosing damage in artery or blocks in the heart
Apart from the diagnostic techniques, your doctor will begin the check up with a physical exam of your general health and your heart conditions. During the process, he will measure your blood pressure, check your pulse, enquire your medical history and ask your several questions regarding your diet and lifestyle.
Treatment for Chest Tightness
In many cases, chest tightness doesn’t result from heart problems and therefore, the treatment is absolutely dependent on the underlying cause. It is usually treated with drugs and non invasive therapies. Surgery may also be needed under an emergency situation.
Drugs used for reducing complications include methazolamide, esmolol, creatine nitroglycerin, adenosine, regadenoson , nystatin, ginseng preparation, etc. These are different types of artery relaxers, blood thinners, clot diluters, etc. Anti-anxiety medicines, anti-allergies, and antacids control anxiety attack, allergies, infections and GERD like symptoms, respectively.
Oxygen therapy and lung re-inflation may be done on the patient. Surgeries are done to treat arterial disorders and problems associated with other vital organs
How to deal with the situation
The first thing that you must do is – relax. Lie down and start breathing- inhale the air and exhale it slowly. This way your anxiety and heart rate is normalized. Do not panic or get nervous. In the meanwhile call your doctor.
Chest tightness will disappear with the treatments suggested by your doctor. However, make sure you get rid of unhealthy foods, cut down alcohol and most importantly quit smoking. Exercise regularly to stay fit.
Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 11, 2015