Chest Pain Diagnosed by Expert Doctors at Mercy

The Heart Center at Mercy

The trusted physicians at The Heart Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, have expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of chest pain. Our Board Certified cardiologists will conduct a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and will help you determine the most appropriate steps to address your chest pain.

About the Condition

Chest pain is a symptom, not a disease. It is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Chest pain can be simple indigestion or a warning sign of a more serious condition. Major causes of chest pain include:

  • Heart disease
  • Lung infections
  • Digestive disease
  • Muscle or bone inflammation
  • Nerve abnormalities
  • Emotional stress or panic attack

Chest pain occurs equally in men and women. Chest pain caused by a heart problem is called angina. Angina is a sign that the heart is not getting enough oxygen to work properly. Angina can be:

  • Stable
  • Unstable
  • Variable (Prinzmetal’s)
  • Microvascular

Coronary artery disease and coronary microvascular disease are major causes of angina.

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Chest pain should not be ignored, especially if any of the following symptoms are present:

  • Pain begins slowly, and feels like heartburn or indigestion
  • Pain starts after physical activity or stress
  • Pain spreads to neck, back, jaw, shoulders or arms
  • Feelings of crushing, squeezing or tightening in center of chest
  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating, dizziness, lightheaded
  • Fatigue, weakness, nausea

If these symptoms last more than a few minutes it could be the result of a heart attack and you should seek help immediately.

Some or all of these tests may be used to pinpoint the cause of chest pain:

NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Treatment will depend on the exact cause of chest pain. Medications and lifestyle changes can be used to decrease pain episodes, lessen the severity of the pain and decrease the likelihood of a heart attack.

These types of medications can be used to relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol and make it easier for the heart to pump blood to the body:

  • Nitrates
  • Beta blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Blood thinners

Helpful lifestyle changes include:

  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Learn techniques for handling stress
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations on physical activity
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