Does Chest Pain always Indicate a Heart Attack


More often than not, whenever we feel any pain in our chests, we immediately think of a heart attack, especially for the elderly. Heart disease has been reckoned with as one of the leading causes of deaths in the world as more than 1.5 million people have a heart attack each year. This number is not restricted to just adults because recent research has shown that young adults also have a heart attack.

Not every chest pain experienced could be a heart attack; for 25% of people with chest pain, the source is not the heart. The source could be the lungs, oesophagus, diaphragm (the muscle that draws air into your lungs), or liver. Other muscles, ribs tendons, and lots of nerves in the chest are also a source of chest pain.

You shouldn't wait to find out the difference, especially if you think it may be a heart attack. Seek medical attention immediately to save your life.

And even after you feel a little bit better, still make that phone call, don't drive yourself to the hospital – that equates endangering your life and the lives of other people on the road.

So, in addition to your regular heart check-up, here's what you should know about Chest pain and how to tell it from a heart attack.

Your health care professional may refer to chest pain as "angina" or "angina pectoris" and may refer to a heart attack as "myocardial infarction". Those are the medical terms.

Signs of a Heart Attack

  • Pain, pressure, tightness or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Light-headedness or sudden dizziness

For Women, signs of a heart attack may include shortness of breath, fatigue, and sudden weakness that feels like the flu. For diabetics and the elderly, dizziness or un-wellness and shortness of breath could also lead to a heart attack.

You're at risk of a heart attack if you're diabetic, a smoker, drug abuser, hypertensive, obese, inactive, always stressed or have a family history of a heart attack.

The good thing is, your body likes you and in most cases would warn you ahead of time, so if you have any of the signs listed above, you should visit your private cardiologist.

Differences between chest pain and heart attack

Here are some key differences between chest pain and heart attack


Heart Attack

Chest Pain


Usually occurs suddenly. Symptoms last longer which is usually more than 15mins.

Mostly as a result of stress or exertion. Symptoms usually dissapear with rest in about 5 to 10 minutes.


It can lead to complete damage of the heart muscles.

doesn't result in permanent damage to the heart.


maybe described as extreme pressure, squeezing or fullness. Some victims have no chest pain.

is usually described as a discomfort, rather than pain.

Causes of chest pain

Chest pain can be caused by:

  • Heart attack
  • Other heart conditions such as asmyocarditis, pericarditis, mitral valve prolapse, and aortic dissection
  • Heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease – GERD), stomach ulcers, an inflammation of your stomach lining (gastritis), or gallstones.
  • Lung problems such as an infection or a collapsed lung.
  • A chest muscle or tendon strain.
  • Asthma.
  • Panic attack – can happen without warning.

So, while chest pain could be an indication of a heart attack, it isn't always a heart attack.

Please, don't be quick to dismiss pain in your chest as just chest pain, you might be having a heart attack. Again, don't wait to find out, the pain should be dismissed as chest pain in the hospital than for you to dismiss it as chest pain in your home and end up being dead wrong.

Schedule an appointment for a private heart check up in London today. 

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