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Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or other pain in the chest
This includes the area from the clavicles to the bottom of the rib cage
Not all chest pain is serious, but until your doctor has examined you it is always safer to assume that your chest pain is serious.
The most life-threatening cause of chest pain is a heart attack. Other serious causes include angina, pneumonia, lung blood clots, or a collapsed lung.
Some common causes of chest pain are not serious (e.g., muscle strain, chest wall arthritis, and acid reflux).
Heart Attack Warning Symptoms
Chest pain or discomfort. The typical heart attack pain is located in the center of the chest and lasts more than a few minutes. Usually the discomfort feels like pressure, squeezing, or heaviness.
Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Some people who have heart attack have pain or discomfort in the upper arms, jaw, neck, or upper back.
Shortness of breath. Shortness of breath can sometimes occur.
Other symptoms. Other symptoms that can occur include unusual sweating, nausea, and lightheadedness.
If you think that you are having a heart attack, then you should call 911 (an ambulance) immediately!
Passed out (fainted)
Very weak (can't stand)
Visible sweat on face or sweat is dripping down face
Severe difficulty breathing (e.g., struggling for each breath, unable to speak)
Lips or face are blue
Severe chest pain
Chest pain lasting longer than 5 minutes and any of the following:
Pain is crushing, pressure-like, or heavy
History of heart disease (e.g., angina, heart attack, bypass surgery, angioplasty)
Over 50 years old
Over 30 years old and you have at least one cardiac risk factor (i.e. high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, smoker or strong family history of heart disease)
Took nitroglycerin and was not relieved
You feel weak or very sick
Chest pain lasts more than 5 minutes
Chest pain brought on by exertion and relieved by rest
Chest pain spreads into your shoulder, arm, or jaw
You have angina chest pain and it has been increasing in severity or frequency
Difficulty breathing or taking a breath makes pain worse
Coughing up blood
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or weakness
Heart beating irregularly or very rapidly
Major surgery in the past month
Any prior "blood clot" in leg or lungs (Note: typically would have required treatment with a blood thinner such as heparin or coumadin)
Hip or leg fracture in past two months
Recent illness requiring prolonged bed rest within last month
Recent long distance travel with prolonged time in car, bus, plane, or train (i.e., in past 3 weeks; 6 or more hours duration)
You think you need to be seen
Rash in same area as pain (especially if described as "small blisters")
You have other questions or concerns
Intermittent mild chest pain lasting a few seconds each time, and persists for more than 3 days
Chest pain only when coughing and persists for more than 3 days
Intermittent mild chest pain lasting a few seconds each time, and you don't think you need to be seen
Mild chest pain only when coughing, and you don't think you need to be seen
Fleeting Chest Pain: Fleeting chest pains that last only a few seconds and then go away are generally not serious. They may be from pinched muscles or nerves in your chest wall.
Chest Pain Only When Coughing: Chest pains that occur with coughing generally come from the chest wall and from irritation of the airways. They are usually not serious.
OTC Cough Syrups: The most common cough suppressant in OTC cough medications is dextromethorphan. Often the letters "DM" appear in the name.
OTC Cough Drops: Cough drops can help a lot, especially for mild coughs. They reduce coughing by soothing your irritated throat and removing that tickle sensation in the back of the throat. Cough drops also have the advantage of portability - you can carry them with you.
Home Remedy - Hard Candy: Hard candy works just as well as medicine-flavored OTC cough drops. Diabetics should use sugar-free candy.
Home Remedy - Honey: An old home remedy has been shown to help decrease coughing at night. The adult dosage is 2 teaspoons (10 ml) at bedtime.
Expected Course: These mild chest pains usually disappear within 3 days.
Call Your Doctor If:
Constant chest pain lasting longer than 5 minutes
You become worse
Heart Attack Symptoms and Warning Signs:
The American Heart Association provides helpful information about heart attack, stroke and other diseases.
Available online at: http://www.heart.org/
Women and Heart Disease:
Womenshealth.Gov provides answers to a number for frequently asked questions.
Available online at: http://womenshealth.gov/
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