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What are some causes of atypical chest pain?

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Quick Answer

Atypical chest pain has a musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal or respiratory origin, according to PubMed Central. Some patients discharged as having atypical chest pain later show signs of cardiac chest pain but not acute ischemia.

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Atypical chest pain may be the result of a wide range of potential causes, and follow-up is necessary to ascertain the cause. Musculoskeletal and cardiac causes account for the highest sources of atypical chest pain, reports PubMed Central. Gastrointestinal and respiratory conditions such as pulmonary embolism and peptic ulcer disease also cause symptoms of atypical chest pain, according to the American Family Physician. Anxiety leads to hyperventilation, which in turn causes unexplained chest pain.

Pneumonia, stable coronary artery disease, panic disorder and pulmonary disease lead to atypical chest pain, says the American Family Physician. Unstable coronary artery disease only accounts for few cases of atypical chest pain, while a considerable number of outpatients have nonspecific chest pain.

When doctors rule out the possibility of chest pain as coming from the heart, it could be the result of gastroesophageal influx or esophageal hypersensitivity, explains Mayo Clinic. Serotonin neurotransmitters, anxiety and depression heighten esophageal sensitivity to atypical chest pain. Acid reflux only lasts a short period and disappears when treated by acidic inhibition. Chest pain that does not originate from the heart does not affect mortality but only affects the quality of life.

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