10 Common Non-Cardiac Causes of Chest Pain

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28 Feb, 2022

Chest Pain can be terrifying, isn’t it? The crushing, burning, or stabbing feeling instantly brings to mind the fear of having a heart attack or other cardiac conditions. Generally, heart problems are the foremost reasons behind throbbing chest pain. Respiratory issues, problems in the lungs, and gastric can also indicate a life-threatening crisis.

Whether it is mild or severe, chest pain should always be taken seriously. Pulmonologists of AMRI Hospitals recommend paying immediate attention to heart problems and seek help in such situations.

Here are the top 10 causes of Non-Cardiac chest pain and related medical complications:


Lungs-related Causes

1. Pulmonary embolism

Pulmonary embolism is associated with gradual or sudden sharp chest pain, tightness that exactly feels like a heart attack that worsens with physical exertion. In a chronic condition, one might experience swelling in the lower leg or blood and mucus in cough. PE is a blood clot that gets lodged in any of your lungs (pulmonary) arteries, blocking the passage of blood flow to lung tissues. If left unattended, it can cause death while stopping blood flow to the heart.

2. Pulmonary hypertension

In this condition, high blood pressure eventually affects the arteries carrying blood to the lungs and heart. The underlying cause could be anything from coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, lung diseases, or blood clots in the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension causes chest pain and dizziness.

3. Collapsed lung

Known as ’Pneumothorax’, a collapsed lung causes chest pain when the air gets in between the myriad layers of the chest wall, including the rib cage, muscles or tissue, and the lungs. It causes difficulty while inhaling oxygen and puts pressure on the lungs due to air build-up. A collapsed lung is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

Digestive Causes

4. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

The result of severe acid reflux is one of the most common causes of sudden chest pain and a burning sensation. Generally termed as a heartburn, GERD is what happens when acid from the stomach backs up into your esophagus and irritates the lining. While it may not demand immediate medical help, one should not ignore if the situation persists as it leads to other serious health issues

5. Esophageal Rupture

The occurrence of a tear in the esophagus lining causes esophageal rupture, also termed as Boerhaave Syndrome. When this rupture happens, it causes mild to severe chest pain, depending on the tear’s location and intensity. Few symptoms or esophageal rupture include vomiting with blood, nausea, fever, or rapid breathing. If not treated immediately, it may cause foods and fluids to pass through the tear into the chest cavity leading to further complications.

6. Hiatal Hernia

There are several types of hernia, but the one that causes immense chest pain is Hiatal Hernia. Generally, there are no significant initial symptoms noticed in Hiatal Hernia until it becomes severe. The condition can cause heartburn (GERD), chest pain, abdomen pain, and blood vomiting, as a part of the stomach pushes up into the chest.

Muscle and Bones Causes

7. Costochondritis

Costochondritis is a condition in which the cartilage joining ribs to the breastbone becomes inflamed. Chest pain that arises from such inflammation is similar to a heart attack, which requires emergency medical attention. The exact causes that lead to costochondritis are not yet known but strain from heavy lifting, joint infection, arthritis, or tumours are a few probable reasons.

8. Muscle Strain

Often you feel a sudden stiffness in the chest, causing persistent pain that increases with activity; it is likely to be a case of muscle strain. If the pain is severe or unbearable, it requires medical intervention or a surgical solution to repair the muscle tear.

Other Causes

9. Asthma

Asthmatic patients are more prone to shortness of breath, tightness in the chest that is often accompanied by chest pain. The airways’ inflammation leads to difficulty in breathing and requires lifetime oral and inhaled medications and treatment to deal with the issues.

10. Panic Attack

The symptoms of a panic attack are very similar to that of a heart attack. With a panic attack, you might experience stabbing pain in the chest, suffer breathing trouble, intense sweating, nausea, and elevated heart rate. Panic attacks are different from an anxiety attack as they don’t have predictable triggers and are short-lived.

Whether your chest pain is severe or mild, it is not necessarily a heart attack. However, it is best to seek medical attention when you experience any discomfort or pain in the chest.


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