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All too often, the mention of chest pain conjures up images of a heart attack, but there are plenty of other diseases and conditions that can trigger this symptom.Some of them—like that chest muscle you pulled raking leaves last fall—are more annoying than serious. spoke to three leading cardiologists across the country, and all of them reiterated one thing: If you’re having chest pain, and you’re not 100% sure what’s causing it, either call your doctor or call 911.If you’ve been battling a viral infection for the last few days, then suddenly wake up to a sharp, stabbing pain in your chest, you may have developed pericarditis, an inflammation in the layers of tissue that surround our heart, says Dr. Respiratory infections are often to blame, though other culprits include autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Chances are, however, your pericarditis will clear up in a few days or weeks simply by resting or taking over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen, which also helps quell inflammation.Weekend warriors, take note: If you haven’t lifted anything heavier than a Mac Book for more than a few years, you might want to rethink that Cross Fit class you signed up for.You might be wondering how someone could mistake the symptoms of acid reflux for a heart attack, but there’s a reason why it’s called heartburn, after all.Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when a person’s stomach contents—simply by resting or taking over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen, which also helps quell inflammation.
And that’s why I specifically say, ‘There have been enough people who have died at home thinking it was indigestion and it was really a heart attack.’ If it’s a new symptom and you’ve never had it before, or the pain is coming or going or getting worse, call 911—don’t call your girlfriend or your husband or drive yourself.Typically, people feel a type of pressure on their chest wall and—similar to a strained muscle—a tenderness when they press on the area.In this case, a doctor will probably start by taking your medical history and doing a physical exam.Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a type of heart disease caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply blood to the heart.Over time, cholesterol deposits lodge themselves in the walls of these arteries, which can blocks off blood flow and cause chest pain.
Christine Jellis, MD, Ph D, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic, seconds that.