Most chest pain is not a sign of anything serious but you should get medical advice just in case. Get immediate medical help if you think you're having a heart attack.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or 112 if you have sudden chest pain that:
- spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw
- makes your chest feel tight or heavy
- started with shortness of breath, sweating and feeling or being sick
- lasts more than 15 minutes
You could be having a heart attack. You need immediate treatment in hospital.
Non-urgent advice: Talk to your GP if
you have chest pain that :
- comes and goes
- goes away quickly but you're still worried
Get medical advice to make sure it's nothing serious.
Common causes of chest pain
In most cases, chest pain is not caused by a heart problem. Chest pain has many different causes.
Your symptoms might give you an idea of the cause. Do not self-diagnose. Talk to your GP if you're worried.
|Chest pain symptoms||Possible cause|
|Chest pain symptoms Starts after eating, bringing up food or bitter tasting fluids, feeling full and bloated||Possible cause heartburn or indigestion|
|Chest pain symptoms Starts after a chest injury or chest exercise, feels better when resting the muscle||Possible cause chest sprain or strain|
|Chest pain symptoms Triggered by worries or a stressful situation, heartbeat gets faster, sweating, dizziness||Possible cause anxiety or panic attack|
|Chest pain symptoms Gets worse when you breathe in and out, coughing up yellow or green mucus, high temperature||Possible cause chest infection or pneumonia|
|Chest pain symptoms Tingling feeling on skin, skin rash appears that turns into blisters||Possible cause shingles|
Chest pain and heart problems
The most common heart problems that cause chest pain include:
- pericarditis – usually causes a sudden, sharp, stabbing pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or lie down
- angina or a heart attack – they both have similar symptoms but a heart attack is life-threatening
You're more likely to have heart problems if you're older or at risk of coronary heart disease.
For example, if you:
- are very overweight (obese)
- have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol
- have a history of heart attacks or angina in family members under 60 years old