M. Haseeb, MD, FACC
Cardiologist located in Mt Vernon, IL
This is one of the most important reasons for seeing a Cardiologist. Is the Chest discomfort coming from the Heart? We evaluate this by getting a History, doing a Physical exam, doing an EKG, reviewing any previous records and determine what needs to be done next to evaluate the symptoms of the patient. We do not want to miss any patient with a potential risk of having a Heart attack! Depending upon the info gathered further work up may involve doing blood tests, Echocardiogram, Stress test, Chest X ray and some cases going directly to HEART CATH.
Is it my heart?
It is important to know that approximately One out of three people who have a Heart attack outside the hospital do not make it to the doctor or to the hospital! Chest discomfort coming from the heart can have varied quality of description including:
- A feeling of heaviness
- A feeling of tightness/ pressure / somebody sitting on the chest
- Crushing sensation
- Burning sensation
- A dull ache in the chest
- A band around the chest
- Sharp-stabbing pain
- Difficulty breathing/ Shortness of breath (can be due to several other causes including lung conditions)
Chest discomfort may radiate into the back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or arms
Intensity of symptoms can be from mild to severe. Chest discomfort coming from the heart that may be due to narrowing of the arteries of the heart can last from a few minutes to several minute to hours!
OTHER ASSOCIATED SYMPTOMS:
Patients may have associated feelings of weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sweating, Shortness of breath etc.
What causes chest pain?
Chest pain can be due to several conditions some of which are serious or life-threatening, Examples of possible causes of Chest pain include:
- A Heart attack also known as Myocardial Infarction
- Angina: Chest discomfort due to poor circulation / blockages in the arteries of the Heart
- Inflammation of the Heart
- Aortic dissection or rupture
- Blood Clots in the Lungs
- Pulmonary hypertension or other lung conditions
- Gall bladder Disease can also sometimes mimic a heart condition
Sometimes chest pain results from something other than heart, lung, or digestive problems. Examples include a panic attack, sore muscles, or injured ribs.
How is chest pain evaluated?
This involves medical history, complete physical exam and EKG. Further workup may include Blood tests, Echocardiogram, stress test and or Heart Catheterization
What is the treatment for chest pain?
Treatment is directed to the cause of Chest discomfort. If it is due to blockage in the arteries of the heart, then depending on the severity, the patient may need to be treated with medicines, or with invasive procedures / Coronary stents or Bypass surgery.
External Counter pulsation:
This noninvasive treatment option is for patients who are on medical therapy for Coronary artery disease and are still symptomatic. These patients may be complaining of limited exertion capacity, getting tired and fatigued easily, getting short of breath easily, have frequent Chest pain or have become Couch potatoes. Such patients, if they are not good candidates for stents or bypass surgery or do not want to undergo any further invasive procedures, ECP is the last hope of ray for them. This treatment involves pushing blood from the lower half of the body towards the heart by External mechanical compression of the muscles of the lower extremities. With this treatment, over a period of time , the heart can grow alternate channels of blood flow to provide more blood to the areas of the heart muscle that were previously not getting enough blood. As a result, more than 70 % of patients notice improvement in their symptoms and they start enjoying their life again!
Don’t ignore chest pain as it could be a sign of a serious heart or blood vessel problem. Call Mt. Vernon Heart Institute at the first sign of chest pain, book an appointment online, or call 911 if you suspect a heart attack.