What causes chest pain?
Chest pain can be caused by dozens of issues, from a panic attack to pancreatitis. It’s also a key symptom of heart disease. Every year millions of people visit hospital emergency rooms with chest pain, about 20 percent of whom are diagnosed with a heart attack or angina, a warning sign of a potential heart attack.
What is angina?
Angina is chest pain caused when your heart doesn't receive adequate blood and oxygen. It can create a squeezing pressure in the chest. That pain can also radiate to the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina is a symptom of an underlying heart disease or condition and can be a warning sign of a potential heart attack.
How is the cause of chest pain diagnosed at Chinatown Cardiology?
Your cardiologist will begin by taking a complete medical history and conducting a physical examination. In addition, testing may be ordered, which could include:
- An electrocardiogram (EKG). Electrodes are placed on the chest, arms, and legs to interpret electrical activity of the heart. Each heartbeat is accompanied by an electrical signal that spreads from the top of the heart to the bottom. As the signal travels, it causes the heart to contract and pump blood. EKG recordings give the doctor information about how your heart is working; including its heart rate, regularity of heartbeats, size and position of the chambers, and the presence of any damage to the heart. It can also be used to evaluate the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate your heart.
- Echocardiography. This simple diagnostic procedure uses sound waves (echoes) to produce images of your heart, including its size and shape, pumping capacity, location and extent of any tissue damage.
- A stress test. A stress test measures how your heart performs under different levels of stress. At Chinatown Cardiology, heart stimulation is either provided by exercising on a treadmill or injection of intravenous vasodilators.The latter is used when medical problems prevent a person from being able to complete the necessary exercise. During the stress test, your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored throughout.
How can you know if your chest pain is related to a heart attack?
Anyone experience chest pain with the following symptoms may be having a heart attack and should call 911 immediately.
- A sudden feeling of crushing pressure, squeezing, or tightness in the chest.
- Chest pain that radiates from the jaw, left arm, or back.