Most chest pain isn’t a sign of anything serious but you should get medical advice just in case. Get immediate medical help if you think you’re having a heart attack.
Call 999 if you have sudden chest pain that:
- spreads to your arms, back, neck or jaw
- makes your chest feel tight or heavy
- also started with shortness of breath, sweating and feeling or being sick
- lasts more than 15 minutes
You could be having a heart attack. Call 999 immediately as you need immediate treatment in hospital.
Common causes of chest pain
Chest pain has many different causes – only the most common are listed below. In most cases, chest pain is not caused by a heart problem.
Your symptoms might give you an idea of the cause. Don’t self-diagnose – see your GP if you’re worried.
|Chest pain symptoms||Possible cause|
|Starts after eating, bringing up food or bitter tasting fluids, feeling full and bloated||heartburn or indigestion|
|Starts after chest injury or chest exercise, feels better when resting the muscle||chest sprain or strain|
|Triggered by worries or a stressful situation, heartbeat gets faster, sweating, dizziness||anxiety or panic attack|
|Gets worse when you breathe in and out, coughing up yellow or green mucus, high temperature||chest infection or pneumonia|
|Tingling feeling on skin, skin rash appears that turns into blisters||shingles|
Chest pain and heart problems
The most common heart problems that cause chest pain include:
- pericarditis – which usually causes a sudden, sharp, stabbing pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or lie down
- angina or a heart attack – which have similar symptoms but a heart attack is life-threatening
You’re more likely to have heart problems if you’re older or know you’re at risk of coronary heart disease.
For example, if you: