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Difference Between Chest Pain & Heart Attack

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, DNB (General Medicine)
General Physician, Delhi  •  18years experience
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Here are some differences between chest pain and heart attack

Hello everyone, my name is Dr. Hanish Gupta. I’m a specialist in internal medicine and mainly an expert in diabetes and cardio vascular diseases. Today I’m here with you to discuss a very important symptom of Chest pains.
It is a very worrisome symptom for any patient. It is very frustrating for the family members because they believe that every chest pain could be a hall mark of a heart attack. But my friends, this is not the case every single time. Chest pain is a pathogenic symptom of heart attack but all heart attacks do not necessarily come with chest pains and vice versa. It is most importantly found in patients of gastric diseases like Peptic Ulcer disease by which a patient suffering from hyper acidity would also come to his doctor with the same complaint. So if your chest pain is related to food, meals or associated with feelings of vomiting like nausea then definitely this could be related to the gastro-intestinal diseases. Moreover some patients come to us and say that they have a pin point chest pain which can be pointed at any part of the chest specially if they are pressing on that part and fuelling that same act of pain, then perhaps there is a muscular-skeletal chest pain which deals with muscles and the rib cage other than the heart itself.

Having said that, chest pain which is related to the Heart attack is almost always related to breathlessness. Nobody ever had a heart attack without having breathlessness. So this is a very important symptom to be noted in the patient that if he is having breathlessness associated with chest pains then it is a definite symptom which is going towards a ‘red flag’ sign of heart attack. Moreover I’d like to point out here that some of the patients of diabetes can present to us without having chest pain and just presenting to us with breathlessness. This is primarily so that just like there is a feeling of numbness in the limbs of a diabetic patient. Similarly there is a numbness id the muscles and nerves around the rib cage due to which this patient may have a silent heart attack which presents only with breathlessness and chest pain. That is why in patients of diabetes only breathlessness itself is a hall mark of heart attack.

If a person has chest pain which is related specially to activity, example: climbing up the stairs, walking, jogging, swimming or running or any kind of strenuous activity and that is the time when the pain but goes away when the patient is resting. This kind of a chest pain could be related to the ischemic heart diseases or the coronary artery disease that leads to heart attack in future.

This is known as Angina pectoris and if you have further enquires, you are free to call me or contact me at Lybrate or at my clinic which is located in Delhi by the name of Life aid clinic.

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