If you experience chest pain, consult a family doctor or cardiologist as soon as possible. If severe, go to the nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department where a heart attack can be ruled out rapidly with scans and investigations. If necessary, you will be referred to a specialist who will assist you in determining the cause of your chest pain.
Dr Ooi Yau Wei, cardiologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, explains the possible causes of chest pain and what you should do if you experience it.
Other than heart problems, chest pain may also be caused by stomach, lungs, bone or muscle problems. It may also be a signal for a heart attack which will require immediate medical attention.
Symptoms that suggest it is a stomach issue include vomiting, bloatedness, discomfort and a burning feeling in the chest.
If the chest pain is accompanied by wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and worsens when taking a deep breath or coughing, this could signal a lung problem.
If the chest pain is focused in one specific area and worsens with deep breathing or coughing, it may be due to a bone or muscle injury.
Heart-related chest pain usually feels like a squeezing or strangling sensation. It is typically hard to pinpoint a specific location for the pain, and the pain tends to radiate to the neck, jaw and left arm.
The pain is usually aggravated by exertion (eg. walking or climbing stairs), heavy meals and cold weather, and eases with rest. It can also come with symptoms like giddiness, tiredness, shoulder aches and nausea.
Chest pain that may signal a heart attack is typically more severe in intensity, may occur even at rest and lasts more than 15 minutes. It is commonly accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness and profuse perspiration.