What Causes the Tightening Sensation in Your Chest?

Chest pain with a tightening feeling is a frequent symptom of both heart attacks and angina, so patients who experience tightness in their chests should seek immediate medical attention, states MedlinePlus. Sudden chest-tightening accompanied by shortness of breath can also signal an embolism, another condition that requires immediate medical attention, according to Healthgrades. Some causes of tightness in the chest are not life-threatening, such as anxiety, indigestion or overconsumption of caffeine. Chronic chest tightness can result from lung disease.

Unlike chest discomfort from diseases like GERD, chest pain and tightening stemming from heart disease do not lessen when a patient breathes deeply but may vary in severity over time, states Healthline. Patients with chest-tightness related to pulmonary, or lung, problems may also wheeze or cough, and those with digestive-related chest tightness may feel belly pain or general indigestion.

Angina, or pain in the chest that may be accompanied by tightness, is a symptom of heart disease, states WebMD. Angina alone doesn't mean that the heart is damaged, but it can signal that a person is at a higher risk of heart attack. People who have panic attacks can experience tightness in the chest, but people who are having chest tightness may also experience fear or panic as a result of their physical symptoms, notes Healthgrades.