When arteries that supply the heart with blood become progressively clogged over time with cholesterol and other deposits, they can cut off the heart's supply of oxygen and cause chest pain called angina (an-JYE-nuh). That type of chest pain is a sign you may be having a heart attack. However, there are other types of chest pain, as well, which may be the result of a variety of factors. You may be experiencing pain in the chest as a result of non-cardiac surgery of the esophagus, lungs, ribs, chest wall, or breast. The surgery can cause intense irritation and pain at entry sites from the incision, from drains, or from chest tubes. It's important to distinguish between pain from surgery and pain that may signal cardiac pain, which could indicate a heart attack. Diseases of the lungs, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, may also cause chest pain. Shingles, a painful viral condition of the sensory nerves, can send pain signals to the chest. Some spinal injuries or conditions can cause chest pain, with the pain radiating from the spine to the front of the chest. Treatments for non-cardiac chest pain can range from analgesic medications to injections of local anesthetics. If you haven't had surgery, or you're not sick or coming down with one of these conditions, your chest pain could caused by heartburn, which could've been triggered by something you ate. In that case, an over-the-counter heartburn medication may help relieve the pain-- as well as avoiding the type of food in the future that triggered it. If you're experiencing chest pains, contact a health care professional.
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