What Are The Most Common Causes Of This Symptom
Chest pressure is a non-specific symptom, meaning it can happen for several different reasons. Potential causes include:
- Heaviness .
How to tell it apart
Chest pain, pressure, or discomfort from a heart attack or any other condition limiting blood flow to parts of your heart is called angina. This kind of pressure or pain happens because without enough blood flow, the cells in the affected heart muscle will start to die.
Chest pressure from a heart attack often doesnt stay in one place. Its common for the pressure or pain to radiate, meaning it spreads outward toward other parts of your body like your neck, arm , jaw, abdomen , back or shoulder. It also tends to worsen when you’re active and gets better when you rest, and it can also happen when youre under severe emotional stress or during sexual activity.
Other key ways to distinguish causes of chest pressure include:
- Timing. Does it happen predictably at certain times of day, especially after meals? Does it last for a long time, or is it just a few minutes?
- Location. Is it in the center of your chest, or is it off to one side? Is it higher or lower ?
- What youredoing. Does the pressure happen with certain activities or under certain circumstances? Examples of this include when you’re very anxious or panicking, or if it happens when you’re trying to swallow something you’re eating or drinking?
I Just Turned 65 My Mom Had Heart Disease And Selfishly I Want To Know If There Are Certain Tests That I Should Be Taking In Addition To Having My Cholesterol And High Blood Pressure Monitored To Determine If I Might Be Developing Heart Disease
There are a lot of tests out there that are able to help determine ones risk level, their coronary calcium scores, or even CT scans with angiography, which has dye that goes through and looks at the heart there.
Now, not all those things are necessarily recommended, because there are some tests and markers that are easier to monitor which are really good predictors of heart disease: cholesterol, diabetes, genetic risk, blood pressure. If you have a strong family history of heart disease particularly early heart disease you may want to talk with your doctor about some of these other tests.
If youre having symptoms like unexplained chest pain, those tests become increasingly more important, to really understand the level of heart disease you may have already. There are some genetic tests available, but I would say the most important thing is talking with your doctor to understand your risk profile and what tests might be best suited for you.
Why Does Anxiety Cause Chest Pain
Anxiety is the bodys response to a real or perceived stressor, and anxiety and panic attacks can produce a number of physical symptoms in addition to mental turmoil.
When youre anxious, your body enters whats typically referred to as a fight or flight state, preparing to help you battle against something that could hurt you.
Your body does this in many ways, including increasing your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, and by triggering the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Many of these fight or flight responses can cause chest pain. Common causes for chest pain include:
- Muscle tension: This is typically a result of stress and can manifest itself as tightness in the muscles in the chest.
- Increased heart rate: This can lead to feelings of pounding in the chest, heart palpitations, and coronary artery spasms.
- Hyperventilation: This is a result of shortness of breath, and can cause changes to the level of carbon dioxide in the blood.
- Increased blood pressure: This can increase oxygen demand in the heart and put a strain on the smaller blood vessels due to increased blood flow.
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What Anxiety Chest Pain Feels Like
Anxiety symptoms are rarely the same from person to person. Some days, symptoms arent even the same for the same person. Anxiety presents itself in a variety of ways, and that makes detecting or understanding symptoms difficult.
Chest pain associated with anxiety feels different for each person. Some people may experience chest pain on a gradual basis. For others, the pain may be sudden and unexpected. Anxiety chest pain can be described as:
- sharp, shooting pain
- an unusual muscle twitch or spasm in your chest
- burning, numbness, or a dull ache
- stabbing pressure
- chest tension or tightness
If you dont have a history of chest pain with anxiety, you may be alarmed. Many people assume theyre having a heart attack and go to the hospitals emergency department for treatment.
An estimated 25 to 50 percent of patients who come to the emergency department with low risk chest pain experience moderate to severe anxiety, according to 2018 research.
If you visit a hospital emergency room and the doctors dont find a specific cause for your chest pain, consider consulting with your doctor about other possible causes, including anxiety.
Relief For Chest Pain Caused By A Panic Attack
During a panic attack, the following strategies can help you to manage the symptoms:
- Focus on controlling your breathing breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose for three seconds, hold for two seconds and breathe out for three seconds. You may want to close your eyes to help you focus. By concentrating on your body and your breathing, you can break the panic cycle, calm your hyperventilation and reduce your chest pain
- Remind yourself that this moment will pass panic attacks can be incredibly frightening to experience. There are occasions where some may experience anxiety chest pain all day, but when you are having a panic attack, try to repeat a positive phrase such as: I know this is a panic attack and I know it will pass. This can serve as a reminder that the moment will disappear just as it appeared. Recognising the transience of a panic attack can help to lessen the worry caused by the symptoms, helping the panic attack to subside
- Refocus when you feel a panic attack start to pass, begin to focus on your surroundings rather than on the experience. Think carefully about what you can see, hear, taste, smell and touch. You may also want to hone in on a particular object, and think carefully about its shape, colour and size
There are also preventative measures you can take to avoid panic attacks, which include the following:
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Treatments For Heart Attack And Cad
If you have CAD or a heart attack, your doctor will evaluate you to determine the appropriate treatment, which may include medication, angioplasty or cardiac surgery to restore blood flow to normal levels. Afterward, he or she may:
- Instruct you to stop smoking if you smoke
- Prescribe medications like statins to help lower your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and raise your high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels
- Prescribe daily cardiovascular exercise
- Prescribe a heart-healthy diet of nutrient-dense, fibrous foods that are low in fat and sugar
- Recommend you reduce stress
Is Low Blood Pressure A Problem
Low blood pressure is interesting. Certainly for cardiovascular disease, youd want to have it low, but low blood pressure can also cause challenges.
Theres no one number that you can say is definitively too low for everyone, but symptomatic low blood pressure can be problematic, because that can make people dizzy. You can also feel faint, lightheaded, dehydrated, or have a hard time seeing, with blurred vision. So trying to keep the blood pressure in a relatively normal range is good.
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How Does Stress Affect The Chest Organs
Stress causes a wide range of effects of the body, from stimulating the central nervous system to increasing the secretion of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. While adrenaline is responsible for a short term effects, it is cortisol that lasts for long periods. Cortisol accounts for most of the dire medical implications associated with prolonged stress.
With regards to the chest, the stress response may initiate one or more of the following :
- Increased heart rate.
Read more on cardiac and non-cardiac chest pain.
Cardiovascular Morbidity And Mortality In Panic Disorder
Studies of patients with PD have found elevated rates of certain cardiovascular disorders, including hypertension, idiopathic cardiomyopathy, microvascular angina, and, possibly, sudden cardiac death. Furthermore, some longitudinal studies of patients with PD suggest higher rates of death from cardiovascular causes, especially among men.
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Chest Tightness Due To Anxiety: Symptoms Causes And Solutions To Relieve It
- Chest tightness is a real, common physical symptom of anxiety
- It is more common in some types of anxiety than others
- Breathing exercises have a direct effect on chest tightness, although it may not address all the different causes
- It is not uncommon for chest tightness from anxiety to trigger further anxiety, especially in those with health fears
- How you address the tightness has to do with its cause. However, all anxiety related chest tightness will decrease if a person learns to manage their anxiety
Frequent Colds And Infections
Again, short-term stress can actually temporarily increase your immune systems ability to protect you from illness. Chronic stress, however, causes your immune system to tank and leaves you especially susceptible to illness. And again, if stress also disrupts your sleep cycle, your normal exercise routine, or your eating habits, then you are that much more likely to get sick. At Complete Care, we see this happening the most often during the holidays, when overburdened schedules and the cold and flu season combine
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Broken Heart Syndrome Versus Heart Attack
They may feel the same, but theyâre different. Heart attacks are caused by blockages of waxy buildup within the arteries leading to your heart. With broken heart syndrome, there arenât any blockages the heart just doesnât pump blood as well as it should, which causes heart attack-like symptoms. When treated, people should recover from broken heart syndrome more quickly than from a heart attack, because the heart isnât damaged the same way.
Anxiety Chest Pain: Signs Symptoms & How To Treat
If youre one of the 40 million Americans who live with an anxiety disorder, chances are youve experienced not just mental and emotional symptoms, but physical symptomsespecially if you have experienced a panic or anxiety attack. The physical symptoms of anxiety can be painful, annoying, and sometimes even scary.
One symptom that can be particularly worrisome is pain in and around the chesta feeling some anxiety sufferers experience regularly, often during anxiety or panic attacks.
Because the chest is home to important organs like the lungs and heart, its understandable that feelings of discomfort in this area may frighten you. Unfortunately, this can lead to even more anxiety.
We created this guide to instead help calm your nerves.
In this article, youll learn why anxiety chest pain happens, what it feels like, how long it lasts, how to make it stop, and more.
Youll also learn the difference between anxiety-related chest pain and heart attack-related chest pain, and when you should seek help from a medical professional.
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The Feeling Of Chest Pressure
Few people are taught that chest pressure can be caused by anxiety, but in reality it is one of the main symptoms of extreme anxiety and panic attacks. Not everyone experiences chest pressure or pain in the same way. Some describe the experience as a sharp, shooting pain, some report a dull pain, while others feel as though their heart is being squeezed.
Anxiety Chest Pains: Knowing The Signs And Symptoms
While it is normal to experience some anxiety every now and then, people living with anxiety disorders can deal with intense and frequent bouts of anxiety, excessive worry, and intense fear. Anxiety disorders can make it feel like you are never able to relax, and your feelings of anxiety or panic may significantly interfere with your ability to complete your daily tasks and activities.
Anxiety disorders can cause a wide range of symptoms, including physical symptoms, and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether your symptoms are being caused by your anxiety, or if they are being caused by another medical problem altogether.
Chest pain is one specific physical symptom of anxiety that can be particularly alarming, but there are a few ways you can tell the difference between anxiety chest pain and chest pain caused by something more serious, like a heart attack.
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Ways To Reduce Chest Pressure
When you are experiencing chest pressure and/or tightness, the key is to try to figure out the potential causes. Once you deem anxiety to be the cause of the symptom, the next goal is to stop it. See the following examples:
- Hyperventilation: Try to get your breathing under control by taking slower, deeper breaths and not trying to over-breathe or breathe too fast. When youre experiencing hyperventilation, you may feel as though youre not getting enough air, but hyperventilation occurs when you have expelled more CO2 than you make. So breathing more slowly helps to rebuild those CO2 levels.
- Bloating/Heartburn: If you can potentially reduce/prevent any gas, do so. You may also want to consider taking an antacid or drinking water, which may help with bloating or heartburn. Heartburn can be improved by eating more slowly, decreasing the amounts of spicy foods you consume, and staying upright for at least 30 minutes after eating. Also, avoid heartburn-inducing foods like peppermint, chocolate, coffee or caffeinated beverages, tomatoes, alcohol, and citrus fruits
- Muscle Strain: Be mindful of lifting or carrying items that are too heavy. Make sure to stretch and warm up your muscles before doing any strenuous activities.
These are only temporary fixes. Remember that your chest pressure and/or tightness is often related to some type of anxiety issue or anxiety disorder. That means that the only way to prevent the chest pressure from returning is to learn to manage your anxiety.
What Can You Do To Minimize Chest Tightness Caused By Anxiety
When anxiety is the main cause of your chest tightness, the most effective solution is to treat the underlying anxiety. Various treatment options are available for working through anxiety. These techniques may not work for you in every situation, but they are good tools to have on hand to try at any given time.
1. Breathing exercises
Have you ever noticed when you feel anxious that your body can tense up? This tension can affect your breathing you might find yourself holding your breath, or your breathing rate might increase.
Calming breathing techniques can be done anywhere and only require a few minutes to be carried out. It can be helpful to set aside time to really work on breathing deeply, in through your nose for 5 seconds and exhaling out through your mouth for 5 seconds.
To optimize the exercise, try and let the air flow deep into and out of your lungs. This process helps to slow the rate of breathing.
You may also feel tightness in particular parts of your body perhaps the muscles around your neck feel stiff. Incorporating some gentle stretches and rotations can help bring movement back into your muscles.
2. Follow the 3-3-3 rule
The 3-3-3 rule is a trick used by some people to help manage the anxiety causing their physical symptoms. The first trick to applying the 3-3-3 rule is when you feel the anxiety coming on, you must be able to stop and acknowledge the feeling. Then comes the 3-3-3 strategy:
3. Use a smartphone app
4. Limit alcohol and smoking
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When To See A Doctor
Even if you suffer from anxiety, chest pain shouldnt be ignored.
If you are experiencing persistent chest pain, seek medical advice to pinpoint the cause and rule out a heart problem, like coronary artery disease.
It may just be anxiety-related chest pain, but its always better to be sure. Both anxiety-related chest pain and heart conditions are treatable with the proper healthcare.
If anxiety and its symptoms are impacting your quality of life, a therapist and/or doctor can suggest therapy or prescribe medication to help get your anxiety under control.
This medical care can be life-changing by helping get symptomsincluding chest painto subside.
Stress and anxiety are among the most under-reported and under-treated diseases in America. Nearly 20% of adults in the US suffer from mental health illness and fewer than half receive treatment. Our mission is to increase access to treatment for those suffering in silence.
You can start controlling your stress and anxiety and get access to the treatment you need with K Health. Starting at $19/month get prescriptions for mental health medications plus unlimited doctor visits through the K Health app. Start your free assessment here.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.