Find over 200 print-friendly fact sheets about heart disease and related health topics.
Check Your Symptoms
Chest discomfort or pain
may be a key warning symptom of a
heart attack. Heart attack symptoms may include:
Chest discomfort or pain that comes on or gets worse with
exercise, stress, or eating a large meal and goes away with rest may also be a
warning symptom of heart disease.
If you have any of these symptoms of a heart attack,
call 911 or other emergency services immediately. After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself. Since most of the damage to the
heart muscle during a heart attack occurs in the first 6 hours, emergency
treatment may prevent damage to the heart muscle and death. For men and women, the most common symptom is chest pain or pressure. But women are somewhat more likely than men to have other symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, numbness,
tingling, or a strange feeling in your chest or other areas.
fear that chest pain always means that something is wrong with the heart. This is
not the case. Chest discomfort or pain, especially in people who are younger
than age 40, can have many causes.
Other, more serious problems that can cause chest pain
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
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Home treatment is not appropriate
for chest pain if the pain occurs with
symptoms of a heart attack. If you think a heart
attack might be the cause of your symptoms, call 911 or other emergency services immediately. After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.
Most people who have been diagnosed with angina have a
pattern to their angina attacks that they can recognize. If you and your doctor
have made a
home treatment plan for your angina attacks, follow that plan. If the pain
gets worse or does not go away or if you are unsure how to use your plan,
call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
You may be able to
control how much your angina bothers you by making changes in your lifestyle.
You may find it helpful to:
If you do not need 911
emergency medical treatment for your chest pain or angina,
take your pulse before reporting your symptoms to your
doctor. Your heart rate and rhythm at the time of your chest pain may help your
doctor evaluate your symptoms.
treatment for minor chest pain depends on the cause of the pain. Minor chest
pain often improves with home treatment. A visit to your doctor
may not be needed.
chest wall pain caused by strained muscles or
ligaments or a fractured rib:
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
If you have other symptoms along with your minor chest pain, see the Related Information section for topics that
relate to your other symptoms.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
The following tips may prevent chest problems or injuries.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to
answer the following questions:
September 25, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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