Chest Pain

published on: 25th august, 2021

The Emergency approach to chest pain

Chest pain is defined as any pain that radiates from the neck to the abdomen and can be dull, sharp, burning, aching, or crushing. Chest pain can be an indication of a serious problem, such as a heart attack or a blood clot. Chest pain may also be caused by a problem with your lungs, esophagus, muscles, ribs, or digestive system. Some of these conditions are fatal, while others are not.

What are the symptoms?

  • Feelings of tightness, heaviness, or squeezing in your chest.
  • Weakness, nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, or fainting are all symptoms of pain.
  • Pain radiating to the arms, back, or jaw.
  • Your pain is severe.
  • You have one or more risk factors (family history, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, elevated cholesterol, diabetes)

When chest pain warrants an ER visit?

You understand your body better than anyone else. If you suspect something is seriously wrong, go to the emergency room right away.

Immediate tests at the ER:

Electrocardiogram (ECG) This test records the electrical activity of your heart. Because injured heart muscle doesn't conduct electrical impulses normally, the ECG may show that you have had or are having a heart attack.

Blood tests To check for increased levels of certain proteins or enzymes normally found in heart muscle. Damage to heart cells from a heart attack may allow these proteins or enzymes to leak, over a period of hours, into your blood.

Chest X-ray An X-ray of your chest allows doctors to check the condition of your lungs and the size, shape of your heart and major blood vessels. It can also reveal lung problems like pneumonia or a collapsed lung.

Computerized tomography (CT scan) CT scans can spot a blood clot in your lung (pulmonary embolism) or make sure you're not having aortic dissection.

Be prepared

You never know when you might need to go to the emergency room, so be prepared. Here are some things you can do right now to make any trip to the emergency room go more smoothly:

Create a file -- and update it regularly -- that includes:

  • Details about any chronic health conditions you may have
  • Allergies list
  • Previous medical test results
  • A list of your medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements
  • The names and phone numbers of any doctors, family members, or friends who may need to be contacted.

Note: * The information on this website is not meant to be used to diagnose health conditions or to replace legitimate medical advice.

Dr. Magdi Mohamed

Consultant - Emergency Medicine

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