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Chest pain

How can I tell if chest pain is cardiac?

Chest pain may be cardiac or caused by reasons related to the muscles, skeleton, esophagus, stomach or lungs. Coronary artery disease is the most common heart disease that causes chest pain. In case of chest pain, it is important to identify the type of chest pain. In coronary artery disease, the artery that supplies oxygen to the heart muscle is occluded, causing an oxygen deficiency in the heart muscle. This typically causes a sensation of chest pain during exertion. Cardiac chest pain typically becomes more intense during exercise, whereas resting alleviates the symptoms. Cardiac chest pain can occur in the centre of the thorax or all over the thorax. Unlike in musculoskeletal chest pain, the patient cannot pinpoint the painful area. Cardiac chest pain may also radiate to the back, neck and upper arms. The pain may feel congestive and oppressive. In symptoms of myocardial infarction may begin during rest. For example, chest pain may wake the patient at night. Constrictive chest pain is a typical symptom of myocardial infarction. The leading symptom may also be shortness of breath, a deterioration in general fitness, heartburn or upper abdominal pain.

Chest pain – when to seek treatment?

The cause of chest pain in conjunction with exertion must always be examined. If the symptoms subside a few minutes after the exertion stops and the patient does not experience chest pain while inactive, the examination can be conducted in the next few weeks. Patients can then seek treatment through their personal doctor or a cardiologist.

If chest pain begins while the patient is inactive and the symptoms correspond to myocardial infarction, the patient must seek medical attention immediately by dialing the general emergency number 112. When the ambulance arrives, effective emergency treatment will be administered on site. The emergency nurses will take the patient’s ECG. If necessary, the emergency nurses in the Pirkanmaa region will contact the cardiologist on call at Tays Heart Hospital. After the emergency treatment, the patient will be transported to Tays Heart Hospital for further treatment. Myocardial infarction is treated by immediately opening the occluded coronary artery through angioplasty.

It is always important to examine the cause of chest pain.