Are Chest Pains Serious?


Quick Answer

While some causes of chest pain are not dangerous, others are extremely serious and life-threatening, notes the U.S. National Library of Medicine. One of the most dangerous causes of chest pain is a heart attack. In 2009, 20 percent of patients admitted with chest pains were having a heart attack or precursors to a heart attack, according to Harvard Health Publications.

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Are Chest Pains Serious?
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Full Answer

Warning sings of a heart attack include pain in the center of the chest; uncomfortable sensations in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach; nausea; fatigue; shortness of breath; and hot flashes. Anyone who is experiencing one or more of these symptoms together should immediately call 911. Other dangerous causes of chest pain include lung clots, lung collapse, a tear in the aorta or inflammation in the sac surrounding the heart.

Less serious causes of chest pain are indigestion, reflux, strain of the chest muscles, inflammation in the rib joints and shingles. Symptoms that are less likely to be the cause of a heart attack include sharp or sudden pain that is brought about by coughing and quickly disappears, pain that is localized to one side or part of the body, and pain that lasts several days but is unaccompanied by any other symptoms. However, when in doubt, it is a good idea for anyone experiencing chest pains to seek immediate medical attention.

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