Pain

Chest pain: Causes other than the heart

Here are the symptoms and clues that help lead to the right diagnosis.

By , Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch
  • Reviewed by Toni Golen, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing; Contributor

photo of a woman holding a hand on her chest, indicating that she is experiencing pain

It's so clich' it's called the Holly­wood heart attack: people dramatically clutching their chests and crumbling to the ground. Unlike in the movies, however, many instances of chest pain — especially when it's fleeting — don't involve the heart at all.

More than 6.5 million emergency department visits in the United States each year are due to chest pain, as are nearly four million outpatient clinic visits, according to the American Heart Association. Notably, however, most of these cases are not found to be heart-related.

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About the Author

photo of Maureen Salamon

Maureen Salamon, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Maureen Salamon is executive editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later covered health and medicine for a wide variety of websites, magazines, and hospitals. Her work has … See Full Bio
View all posts by Maureen Salamon

About the Reviewer

photo of Toni Golen, MD

Toni Golen, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing; Contributor

Dr. Toni Golen is a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, practicing in Boston. Dr. Golen completed her residency training at George Washington University Medical Center in 1995, and is an associate professor at Harvard Medical … See Full Bio
View all posts by Toni Golen, MD

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