Chest Pain

New onset chest pain always requires evaluation by your doctor. If the pain is severe, you should seek immediate medical care.

Even if the chest pain is not severe, emergency care is needed if the chest pain is crushing or squeezing or is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms

  • shortness of breath

  • discomfort or tingling in the arms, especially the left arm

  • pain in the back

  • tightness or pain in the lower jaw

  • profuse sweating

  • lightheadedness or loss of consciousness.

Are you currently experiencing chest pain with any of the symptoms described above?

Yes, I am experiencing one or more of these symptoms.

No, I do not have any of these symptoms.

Chest pain that is more mild or intermittent can have many possible causes, some of which might be serious.

By answering the following set of questions, you will be guided toward information that applies to you and your chest pain.

First, let's consider how likely the chest pain reflects a serious medical condition, such as coronary artery disease, an enlarging aortic aneurysm, or blood clots in the lung (pulmonary emboli). Coronary artery disease and aneurysm do not usually cause pain that hurts more with breathing. The pain is the same even if you take a deep breath.

An enlarging aneurysm of the aorta will usually cause a constant severe pain in the chest and back, that feels like something ripping. The symptoms of coronary artery disease are highly variable, but chest pain that hurts more with deep breaths is not a typical symptom. When the cause of chest pain is pulmonary emboli, it usually is hard to take a deep breath.

Does it hurt more when you take a deep breath?

Yes, it hurts more when I take a deep breath.

No, it does not hurt more when I take a deep breath.

Doctors use a combination of factors to help diagnose the reason you have chest pain, such as the characteristics of the pain, your age and your risk factor profile for coronary artery disease.

The classic symptom of angina due to partially blocked coronary arteries is pressure-like discomfort in the front-middle part of the chest that occurs with exertion or emotional excitement and is relieved by rest.

Are you experiencing chest pain related to physical exertion or emotion?

Yes, this type of situation causes chest pain.

No, the chest pain is not related to exertion or emotion.

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