When is Chest Pain Serious?

When should you run to the ER?

Rob Lamberts, MD,
February 17, 2010
Episode #035

Page 4 of 4

When is Chest Pain NOT a Heart Attack?

There are some symptoms that reassure me the chest pain isn’t related to the heart:

Pain that is sharp and brief – stabbing pain that lasts a few seconds is not from the heart.

Pain that persists for hours – heart chest pain will either go away after 20-30 minutes, or will end up in a heart attack. 

Pain that gets worse with movement – or pain that gets worse when you press on that area of the chest is probably from the muscles or the bones in the chest, not the heart.

Pain that you can point to with a single finger – heart pain tends to be hard to pinpoint.

I hope these tips help you.  Learn the symptoms of heart pain and know your risk factors.  If you have a worrisome-sounding pain, get it checked out.  If you are high risk and have any symptoms that are consistent with heart pain, get it checked out.  If you are high risk and have classic symptoms, get to the emergency room immediately, even if you have to call an ambulance.

Remember: it’s always OK to get things checked out.  It’s far better to be seen for symptoms that are not serious than to stay home with serious symptoms.

Check out the episodes on what causes heart attacks and on how to detect heart problems to learn more.

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If you have questions you want answered, send them to housecalldoctor@quickanddirtytips.com. You can find me on Twitter as @housecalldoc and on Facebook under “House Call Doctor.”

Let me remind you that this podcast is for informational purposes only. My goal is to add to your medical knowledge and translate some of the weird medical stuff you hear, so when you do go to your doctor, your visits will be more fruitful. I don’t intend to replace your doctor; he or she is the one you should always consult about your own medical condition.

Woman with Chest Pain and Man with Chest Pain images from Shutterstock