Chest Pain in Men
What Could It Be?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed heart disease as the leading cause of death for men in the United States.
So, it is no surprise that when the men in our lives experience chest pain, our first thought is a heart attack. Luckily, not all chest pain in men is a symptom of a heart problem.
Some causes of chest pains are just as dangerous as heart disease, while others are not life-threatening.
What is Causing Your Chest Pain?
Chest pain is the second leading cause of ER visits in America with more than 8 million emergency room visits a year.
The cause of chest pain can be due to conditions affection other organs in the upper abdomen, including the esophagus, lungs, gallbladder, stomach, and heart.
Digestive Causes of Chest Pain in Men
1. Acid Reflux or Heartburn
Heartburn occurs when the stomach acid flows up into the esophagus. The burning sensation and pain caused by the acid are often mistaken for a heart attack.
2. Esophageal Spasm
The esophagus is the muscular tube that connects the throat with the stomach. Sudden and forceful contractions can cause chest pain.
3. Gallbladder disease
Chest pain caused by gallbladder stones usually occurs 30 minutes after eating. Gallbladder pain is typically felt just below the breastbone, and it can extend to the right arm or between the shoulder blades.
Inflammatory Causes of Chest Pain in Men
Costochondritis is an inflammation of the chest wall between the ribs and the breastbone. It can cause a stabbing, aching pain that is often confused with a heart attack. The inflammation, however, is usually caused by trauma from playing contact sports or arthritis.
This is an inflammation of the protective, double-layered sac surrounding the heart. There are many causes including a virus, radiation from cancer treatments, and certain illnesses or injuries. Pericarditis causes sharp, stabbing pain in the center of the left side of the chest. The pain worsens when you take a deep breath or lie down.
Lung-Related Causes of Chest Pain in Men
Pneumonia is an infection that can cause shortness of breath and sharp pains that become worse when you take a deep breath. It is usually accompanied by other symptoms, including fever, chills, or coughing.
2. Pulmonary Embolism
This is a blood clot that has traveled into the lung vessels. It can cause chest pains, often accompanied by a fast or irregular heartbeat, sudden difficulty breathing or feeling lightheaded or faint.
This condition can be life threatening, therefore, if you experience any of these symptoms head to the nearest Altus Emergency Center.
Psychological Causes of Chest Pain in Men
Anxiety or Panic Attacks
These types of attacks are the body’s response to stressful events, they happen without warning and can cause chest pains, shortness of breath, palpitations, and dizziness. The chest pain is usually fleeting, lasting only a moment or two.
Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.
Is it a Heart Attack or Something Else?
This simple symptom chart was published by the Harvard Medical School and could help you assess the severity of your chest pain.
More Likely to be a Heart Attack
- A sensation of pain, or of pressure, tightness, squeezing, or burning
- Gradual onset of pain for a few minutes
- Pain in a diffuse area, including a constant pain in the middle of the chest
- Pain that extends to the left arm, neck, jaw, or back
- Pain or pressure accompanied by other signs, such as difficulty breathing, a cold sweat, or sudden nausea
- Pain or pressure that appears during or after physical exertion or emotional stress (heart attack) or while you are at rest (unstable angina)
Less Likely to be a Heart Attack
- Sharp or knifelike pain brought on by breathing or coughing
- Sudden stabbing pain that lasts only a few seconds
- Pain clearly on one side of the body or the other
- Pain that is localized to one small spot
- Pain that lasts for many hours or days without any other symptoms
- Pain reproduced by pressing on the chest or with body motion
What to Do When You Are Not Sure What Is Causing Your Chest Pain
If you experience a recurrent chest pain or pain that lasts for several hours or even days, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
However, if your chest pain is gradually getting worse, with pain building in intensity that is not relieved by resting, you could be having a heart attack and should come to the nearest Altus Emergency Center immediately.
Correctly diagnosing the cause of chest pain is not something you can do at home; only a doctor can do it. And you should never ignore any type of chest pain.
At Altus Emergency Centers, we have the most experienced emergency physicians who can quickly and accurately diagnose the cause of a patient’s chest pain.