Cardiologist, Electrophysiologist, General Practitioner, GP Practice

Chest Pain: Everything you need to know

Chest Pain: Everything you need to know

What is Chest Pain?

Chest pain describes a feeling of discomfort or pain in the chest region that can extend to other parts of the upper body, including the arms, neck, and jaw. The sensation can present as sharp or dull, tightness, or crushing or squeezing. Seeking medical attention is important, as chest pain is often an indicator of more serious underlying conditions, particularly those that can affect the heart and its functions.


What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of chest pain include:

  • Pressure
  • Squeezing
  • Crushing
  • Tearing
  • Fullness

Other associated symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Light-headedness1


Prevalence, Causes & Diagnosis

There are many different causes for chest pain, some concerning, others can be transient and never return. The one thing to remember is that chest pain should not be ignored, if you are concerned about your pain, you should call your GP for an urgent appointment, or call an ambulance.

The pain in your chest may have several causes, some linked to your heart, others that are not (including lungs, abdominal region or musculoskeletal). Your local doctor can help with diagnosing your pain. This may include a series of blood tests, a tracing of your heart, also known as an electrocardiograph (ECG), chest x-rays and potentially a small wearable heart monitor to keep an eye on your heart rate and rhythm.2

A common cause of chest pain for many people is called Angina Pectoris or simply Angina. This can occur when your heart has a reduction in the blood flow to the muscles and when it is working during exercise (for example), it requires greater blood flow, but there may be an obstruction in the blood vessels that supply this blood. The pain associated with Angina often goes away when the individual ceases that activity.3

Many patients with suspected Angina are referred to a Cardiologist for ongoing management which may include medication or a coronary angiogram. You may also be required to take other medications to reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure etc which are linked to cardiovascular disease.

Diagnosing chest pain can be relatively simple for your local doctor, but in some cases, it can be complicated and time-consuming. Your local doctor will use an individualised approach when trying to help you as everyone may have different risk factors, genetic predispositions etc. Talk openly to your doctor about concerns you may have.

Women who have chest pain are known to present differently from men. They may present with a “bloated” abdomen and can describe “strange” feelings just below their chest, in their stomach region. Men and women can present the same way when having a “heart attack” but women in particular shouldn’t ignore the vague symptoms mentioned above.


Care & Treatment

Addressing chest pain requires a comprehensive approach tailored to its underlying cause. Once a diagnosis is established, the treatment plan may include a combination of lifestyle modifications, medications, and, in some cases, surgical interventions.

Treatment Options:

  1. Medications: Depending on the diagnosis, medications such as nitroglycerin, beta-blockers, or calcium channel blockers may be prescribed to manage symptoms and improve blood flow to the heart.
  2. Lifestyle Modifications: Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle is crucial. This involves dietary changes, regular exercise, smoking cessation, and stress management to reduce the risk factors contributing to chest pain.
  3. Interventions and Procedures: In certain cases, more invasive procedures may be recommended. These can include angioplasty to open narrowed arteries or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) to improve blood flow to the heart.4



Preventing the onset of chest pain can involve addressing modifiable risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. Regular exercise, a heart-healthy diet, and routine medical check-ups contribute to overall cardiovascular health and reduce the likelihood of developing chest pain.

To see if you are at risk of cardiovascular disease, click here to take the healthy heart check questionnaire. Complete it and take it to your GP to discuss risks you may have.


When to Call the Doctor

It is crucial to seek medical attention promptly if you experience chest pain, especially if accompanied by symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, or light-headedness. If in doubt, it is advisable to call emergency services (000), for immediate assistance. Prompt evaluation can determine the cause of chest pain and guide appropriate interventions, ensuring the best possible outcomes.

Ignoring or neglecting chest pain can lead to serious complications, including heart attack or damage to the heart muscle. It is imperative to recognise the potential severity of chest pain and seek prompt medical attention to mitigate these risks.



Disclaimer This information is general and not conclusive. Follow any guidelines and advice from your doctor or specialist, health care, or multidisciplinary team, for your personalised patient-centred needs and care. Inquire about a patient advocate group regarding your specific needs. Call 000 if you are experiencing chest pain.

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