Chest Pain(Types): Is it a sign of a heart attack or something else?

Dr. Mohit Bhutani, a consultant cardiologist at Amcare Hospital, Zirakpur talks about chest pain. A lot of patients ask me if the pain in the chest is because of gas, or is it the bones that are causing the pain, or is something wrong with the arteries, or is this pain related to heart attack or any damage in the arteries. 

What are the types of chest pain?

Gastric: 

If the pain is above the belly button on the abdomen, you get burps that burn, water in the mouth, acidity then it is gastric. This gastric pain does not increase if you do any work. 

Heart attack\angina

Whereas the angina pain or the heart attack pain is work-related which can be felt anywhere starting from the jaw to the belly button. This pain does not occur only on the left side of the heart but also in the middle and it can also radiate to both arms. The basic characteristic of this pain is that it increases with the amount of work you do. 

In this pain, the person feels uneasy, nervous, and sweating. If you feel any of these do consult a cardiologist and get an ECG test done at your earliest. This way we can rule out this pain is just regular gastric or it is heart-related. 

What is Angina?

One more thing I would like to discuss with you is that when patients google the symptoms and come to me asking whether the pain they feel is angina or not. So then I want to make it very clear, angina is work-related pain, which increases with the amount of work you do, eg. running or climbing stairs. 

 What is the difference between angina and heart attack pain?

Angina pain stops when you stand still or stop doing any activity and starts and increases with more work you do.  Whereas a heart attack will not stop even if you stand still, it is the same type of pain in the middle of the chest and in your arms but it will continue paining regardless of the amount of work. This is how you can differentiate angina pain from a heart attack. 

How would you know if you are having a heart attack? 

A heart attack is usually for a long duration of time, more than 30 min, and is associated with sweating and nervousness. 

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