Chest pain is any pain—dull, sharp, burning, aching or crushing—experienced from the neck to the abdomen. Chest pain may indicate a serious problem, such as a heart attack or blood clot. Chest pain also may indicate a problem with your lungs, esophagus, muscles, ribs or digestive system. Some of these conditions are life threatening, and others are not. The only way to know is to seek medical attention.
In short, if you are experiencing chest pain, you should not panic, but you should call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room (ER).
When chest pain warrants an ER visit
You know you body better than anyone. If you sense something is seriously wrong, visit an ER immediately. You should also visit the ER if your chest pain is prolonged, severe or accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath—especially after a long period of inactivity
- Excessive sweating or ashen color
- Nausea or dizziness
- Pain spreading to the jaw, left arm or back (signs of heart attack)
- Pain that radiates to your back
- Sudden feeling of pressure, squeezing, tightness or crushing under the breastbone
- Very low blood pressure or very low heart rate
- Very rapid heartbeat and/or breathing