Pain in Left side of Chest

Pain in left side of chest, can be assumed to be a thing of panic, because such pain is associated with heart attack. However, it is important to note that it is not the only reason for pain in the left side of chest which are stated as under

Causes of pain in left side of chest

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Some of the causes of pain in the left side of chest are as follows:

Cardiac-related causes:

  • Heart Attack: Heart attack is also known as myocardial infarction. A person experiences heart attack when the coronary arteries get obstructed.In order for the heart to work for twenty four hours, the heart muscles need continuous flow of oxygen-rich blood from the coronary arteries. When plaque builds up in these arteries, it breaks the arteries resulting in blood clot. This further obstructs the arteries and the blood supply to the heart muscles stops. If the arteries remains obstructed for more than fifteen minutes then the tissues of that particular part start to die resulting in pain in the left side of chest.Symptoms of heart attack are nauseated feeling, vomiting, sweating, difficulty in breathing, pain which spread from chest to back, and dizzy feeling
  • Cardiac Ischemia: Cardiac ischemia is caused due to less flow of blood to the heart. Inadequate flow of oxygen-rich blood for a long time damages the heart muscles. This in turn results in pain in the left side of chest. Cardiac ischemia may cause heart attack, irregular heart rhythm, and sometimes heart failure.

Non-cardiac causes:

  • Gas or heartburn: Gas in stomach or intestine moves upward and presses against the walls of the chest. This causes breathlessness and stiffening of the walls of the chest ultimately leading to chest pain.When a person experiences pain in the chest and symptoms of heart attack such as rapid heart rate, sweating, palpitation or pale skin are not seen, it usually means gas or heartburn or acidity.
  • Stressful lifestyle: Pain in the left side of chest is very common among individuals who endure stress most of the time. Stress also gives way to many other health disorders causing cardiac dysfunction. Some health problems due to stress are obesity and diabetes which causes pain in the chest. Excess smoking and drinking can also damage cardiac function.
  • Intercostal Neuralgia: Intercostal nerves are located between the ribs of the chest cavity. When these nerves are damaged because of infections or strain, it causes chest pain. This pain is sharp like a stab in the chest and it becomes worse if the person coughs or laughs. This pain can also move to other parts of the body like shoulder and back in serious cases. Pain in the abdomen is a common symptom. It is hard to make a diagnosis of intercostals neuralgia because mostly it isnot detected by X-rays. Usually when no other valid reason is found for pain in the left side of chest then intercostals neuralgia is assumed.
  • Left Pectoral Strain/Tear: Chest pain can also occur due to torn or strained pectoral muscle. The pectoral muscles are located on the both the sides of the chest, right and left. Heavy or strenuous exercises and physical work makes the muscles stressed. This leads to tearing of muscles causing sharp pain in the chest which further moves to shoulder and armpit.When pectoral muscle on the left side of the chest is touched and pain is felt, then it is confirmed that the muscle is torn.
  • Costochondritis: The upper ribs of the chest are linked to the sternum through a cartilage; this point of connection or joint is known as ‘costosternal joint.’ Inflammation of costosternal joint is known as ‘costochondritis.’ It is common amongst youth and teenagers. Costochondritis causes pain in the chest and can be cured with anti-inflammatory drugs and physiotherapy.

Treatment of pain in the left side of chest

Firstly, the cause of the chest pain has to be diagnosed and then only it can be correctly treated. On the basis of the symptoms the medical experts discern the cause of the chest pain and then recommend correct treatment. If a person experiences serious symptoms and signs of heart attack or angina like tightening of chest, dizzy and nauseated feeling, blurred vision etc., then one should consult the doctor immediately. If arteries are blocked then angioplasty may be advised by the doctor. In case of non-cardiac causes doctor may give some anti-inflammatory drugs or pain relief medicines.

To keep away from chest pain one should go for regular check up of cardiac functions, especially if a person has a family history of diseases like heart attack, diabetes. Pain in the left side of chest does not always mean heart attack, but it should not be overlooked and checked promptly.

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