Chest Pain Is Nothing To Ignore

Posted on: 12 October 2015

You have a brief moment of chest pain when walking up a flight of stairs, but it goes away when you sit down and rest. Your heart may be trying to tell you something important. If you ignore the warning, the next time the pain may not go away. Here is why your heart is signaling to you that there is a problem and it's time to reach out to a heart doctor, like the ones at Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology, for help.

Consider a Muscle Cramp

If you've ever had a muscle cramp in your leg, then you have some idea of the meaning behind chest pain. If you exercise too hard or overdo it while working in the yard, muscles become depleted of important nutrients that they need to function properly. In response, they become tense and may begin to spasm. If this continues, the muscles become so painful that you can't walk.

Your heart is a muscle and it responds in a similar way to a lack of nutrients, especially oxygen. Special blood vessels, called the coronary arteries, provide oxygen to the heart. Should the flow of blood to the heart through these blood vessels become restricted, the heart muscle begins to respond by sending you the chest pain that you felt walking up the stairs. When you sat and rested for a few minutes, your heart rate went down and the heart didn't have to work as hard, so the pain went away. But the pain was a message that you may have a heart disease that needs looked at right away.

How the Heart Signals You

Less than 30 percent of the population know the signs of a heart attack. These signals are worth getting to know so if you experience them, you can see a heart doctor and get help.

The most common warning signs of heart disease include:

Pressure in the chest - Many people describe their heart attack as extreme pressure in the chest. This is due to the heart muscle beginning to tense up because of the lack of oxygen.

Radiating pain from the chest - People feel pain starting in their chest which radiates out into their neck, back and arms.

Fluctuating pain - The pain is not continuous, but ebbs and flows as your heart rate changes. When having a heart attack, resting to lower your heart rate will reduce the pain temporarily, but the pain will increase again.

Causes of Heart Disease and a Heart Attack

There are a number of reasons why your heart is being starved of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to function properly:

  • High cholesterol levels in the blood - This creates fatty deposits in the blood vessels which partially blocks the blood flow.
  • Diabetes - This disease allows deposits to build up in the blood vessels.
  • High blood pressure - This forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.
  • Smoking - This causes the blood vessels to constrict making it harder to get enough blood through them.
  • Heart valve disease - A bacteria can attack a heart valve causing it to malfunction and make the heart work harder.

All of these are treatable conditions, but you have to make the first move and see your doctor at the first sign of any chest pain.