A sharp pain in the chest can indicate a heart attack, digestive issues or medical problems in the nerves, ribs, muscles, lungs or esophagus, explains WebMD. People with sharp pains in the chest should consult with a medical professional immediately to determine the underlying cause.
Heart-related health problems associated with a sharp pain in the chest include not only a heart attack but also an angina, aortic dissection and pericarditis, a condition where inflammation surrounds the heart, according to Mayo Clinic. Problems with the digestive system, such as heartburn, inflammation of the pancreas or gallbladder and swallowing disorders can also cause sharp pains in the chest. Lung disorders such as a collapsed lung, pulmonary embolism, pleurisy and pulmonary hypertension can also cause sharp pains in the chest.
Injuries of the muscles and bones cause sharp pains in the chest, explains Mayo Clinic. People who suffer from inflamed cartilage in the rib cage, a condition known as costochondritis, experience pains in the chest as well as active individuals with sore muscles or chronic pain syndromes. Broken or bruised ribs also cause chest pain. People coping with shingles experience chest pain when blisters surround the chest wall. A panic attack that involves moments of intense fear causes chest pain as well as shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating and rapid breathing.