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First Aid for Chest Pain : Signs, Symptoms, & How to prevent

Team AckoSept 15, 2023

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Chest Pain is the most common symptom of heart disease. Further, Chest Pain is a major cause of disability and death. Its leading risk factors include hypertension, dyslipidemia, smoking, and diabetes. As this type of pain is common, it becomes important to understand first aid information related to Chest Pain, which is covered in this article

First Aid for Chest Pain : Signs, Symptoms, & How to prevent



Symptoms of Chest Pain

Signs of Chest Pain can vary depending on the underlying cause and may include the following.

  • Aching or pressure-like pain, tightness, or burning in the chest

  • Shortness of breath or a feeling of heaviness in the chest

  • Pain that radiates to the neck, shoulder, jaw, or arm

  • Pain that is made worse by exertion or cold weather

  • Fatigue or feeling of being unwell

  • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeats

  • Nausea, sweating, or difficulty breathing

  • A feeling of indigestion

It is imperative to seek medical attention if Chest Pain persists or is accompanied by any of these symptoms.

What causes Chest Pain?

There is an array of factors that can lead to Chest Pain, which are as follows.

  1. Heart-related: Heart attack, unstable angina, arrhythmia, or pulmonary embolism.

  2. Gastrointestinal: Indigestion, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or hiatus hernia.

  3. Musculoskeletal: Pulled muscles, strained muscles, broken rib, or costochondritis.

  4. Psychological: Experiences of stress and anxiety.

  5. Pulmonary: Bronchitis, pneumonia, pulmonary edema, or pneumothorax.

  6. Other: This includes kidney stones, gallstones, a tumour, or aortic dissection.

First aid for Chest Pain

If you are experiencing Chest Pain, go to a doctor without any delay. If you are unable to seek medical help right away, you can try the following first-aid measures.

  • Take a deep breath and stay calm.

  • Place the heel of one hand on the breastbone between the nipples and place the other hand on top. Squeeze the hands together firmly, but not too tightly, for at least 5 seconds. If the pain does not improve, call for an ambulance or seek medical attention immediately.

  • Take aspirin if instructed to do so by a healthcare professional. Do not take aspirin if you are under the age of 18 or have any other medical condition that affects your ability to take it.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol while experiencing Chest Pain.

  • Do not smoke or use illicit drugs while experiencing Chest Pain.

  • Ask your doctor about medications and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the risk of future Chest Pain episodes.

When to seek medical attention for Chest Pain?

Chest Pain can indicate a significant medical issue, so it is vital to go to a doctor for Chest Pain as soon as possible. If the Chest Pain is severe and accompanied by shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeat, or other signs of a potential heart attack, seek urgent medical help.

If the Chest Pain is mild and not accompanied by any other worrisome symptoms, it can likely be assessed by a medical professional as soon as possible. In either case, you must talk to a healthcare professional about any Chest Pain to rule out any serious medical issues.

Diagnosing the cause of Chest Pain

To diagnose the cause of Chest Pain, a doctor will typically perform a physical exam, review the patient's medical history, and order certain tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and a chest x-ray. In some cases, additional tests may be ordered, such as a stress test, coronary angiogram, or computed tomography (CT) scan.

Treating Chest Pain

Treatment for this issue depends on the underlying cause. For those with an underlying heart condition, a cardiologist may recommend lifestyle and diet changes, medications to reduce stress and cholesterol levels, or procedures such as angioplasty to open blocked arteries.

How to prevent Chest Pain

In order to prevent the occurrence of Chest Pain, you can count on the following ways.

  • Avoid smoking.

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet that is low in sodium and saturated fat.

  • Exercise regularly, such as at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise three or four times per week.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Take steps to reduce stress, such as avoiding intense schedules, practising relaxation techniques, and ensuring adequate sleep.

  • Get regular medical check-ups.

  • Limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol, and recreational drugs.

  • Continue to take any medicines prescribed to you by your doctor.

  • Be aware of any warning signs or symptoms, such as shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the chest, dizziness, or nausea.

  • If Chest Pain does occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some common questions related to Chest Pain


Is Chest Pain normal?

No, Chest Pain is not normal and should be taken seriously. It can indicate a variety of illnesses or conditions. So if you experience Chest Pain, it is crucial to seek prompt medical attention to determine the cause.

What is the first step if someone is having Chest Pain?

If someone is experiencing Chest Pain, it is vital to assess the situation and consult a doctor. 

What should I do while waiting for medical attention?

While waiting for medical help, it is important to remain calm and keep yourself relaxed. If possible, sit or lie down, and take deep breaths. Depending on the situation, an aspirin or nitroglycerin medication might be taken to reduce Chest Pain.

Are there any self-care measures I can take in the event of Chest Pain?

In the event of Chest Pain, it is good to practise relaxation techniques to reduce any stress or anxiety. It is also essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of rest. Also, it is imperative to avoid any activities or habits that may have triggered the Chest Pain in the first place, such as smoking or drinking alcohol.

How do I know if there’s gas in my chest?

If you experience tightness or pain in your chest, shortness of breath, heartburn, nausea, or burping, it could be a sign of excess gas in your digestive system. In some cases, these symptoms could be related to other medical conditions. 

Are there any warning signs for Chest Pain?

Yes, there are some warning signs for Chest Pain that you should be aware of. These can include pain, tightness or pressure in the chest, radiating pain, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and sweating. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult a doctor.

Can stress cause Chest Pain?

Yes, stress can cause Chest Pain. Chest Pain caused by stress and anxiety is known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or "broken heart syndrome". This condition can cause temporary heart muscle failure and symptoms like Chest Pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

Can lack of sleep cause Chest Pain?

Yes, it is possible for Chest Pain to be caused by a lack of sleep due to stress, fatigue, or strain on the heart from the body not getting the necessary rest it needs. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to an increased risk of developing conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease, both of which can cause Chest Pain and other heart-related symptoms. In addition, lack of sleep can alter neurotransmitter levels in the brain, which can affect the nerves that control the body's pain perception.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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