3 Types of Chest Pain That Won’t Kill You
Not all chest pains are symptoms of a heart attack. Learn which symptoms could be signaling trouble and which are probably ok.
Some types of chest pain should send you to the emergency room immediately.
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If you experience pain, pressure or discomfort in the center of your chest or in your arms, back, jaw, neck or stomach — along with shortness of breath, a cold sweat, nausea, fatigue or lightheadedness — for at least five minutes, call 9-1-1.
But when chest aches and pains are fleeting, it’s often something different.
Dr. Rimmerman emphasizes that the symptoms of heart attack or angina can vary greatly from person to person. Some people experience no symptoms at all. Others experience crushing chest pain. Still others may feel only arm discomfort.
“Regardless of the site of the discomfort, people typically can’t find a position that relieves the pain,” writes Dr. Rimmerman. “Nor do they find relief by ingesting liquids, popping antacids, or taking deep breaths.”
Heart attack discomfort is unrelenting, typically lasting five minutes or more (up to half an hour or, rarely, two hours). That’s when it’s important to call 9-1-1 to get emergency treatment.
If chest discomfort is fleeting but severe, make an appointment to see your primary care doctor.
But when in doubt, Dr. Rimmerman advises, “Err on the side of caution, and visit a doctor or emergency room.”