What is chest discomfort?

Chest discomfort is a common symptom of heart, lung and digestive disorders and of physical injury. Discomfort felt in the chest can result from a lack of blood flow to vital organs or from inflammation of the heart, lungs or esophagus. It may also occur with certain conditions affecting the gastrointestinal system that allow the digestive juices to enter the esophagus, causing discomfort.

Reduced blood flow to the heart, resulting in heart pain (angina), and asthma are common causes of chest discomfort. Other common causes include heartburn, indigestion, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Inflammation or infection of the airways or bronchi (bronchitis), lungs (pneumonitis, pneumonia), lining around the lungs (pleurisy or pleuritis), or esophagus (esophagitis) can also cause chest discomfort.

Injury to musculoskeletal structures, such as the ribs and chest muscles, commonly results in chest discomfort due to swelling and inflammation. Emotional disorders, such as anxiety and panic attacks, may also be accompanied by chest discomfort.

Chest discomfort can be a sign of a serious condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience chest discomfort along with shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, loss of consciousness, or severe trauma to the chest. Seek prompt medical care if your chest discomfort is persistent or causes you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with chest discomfort?

Chest discomfort may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the chest may also involve other body systems.... Read more about chest discomfortsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes chest discomfort?

Angina (brief, sharp heart pain) is a symptom of a condition called myocardial ischemia that occurs when the heart muscle, or myocardium, doesn’t get as much oxygen-carrying blood as it needs. This usually occurs because one or more of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle, is narrowed or blocked. Insufficient blood supply is called ischemia.... Read more about chest discomfortcauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation, Angina