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What causes chest pain?

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Posted on Fri, 12 Dec 2014
Question: I started to have chest pain a few minutes ago. I realize that a heart attack is possible, but due to cost and inconvenience I want to rule out obvious alternatives; The pain is high in my chest, it seems to be at the center of my sternum. There is no pressure, spreading, dizziness. The "pro s" --possible causes--are that I drank an unusual amount of caffeine and fluid today. The "con s " are that I I did some unaccustomed rowing at the gym a few hours ago, together with heavy elliptical work and running. I exercise daily and have low BMI and cholesterol levels. But I do have a pain of sudden onset in the center ter of my sternum. IIt soes not feel as deep as the heart, bu and have been having scapular back pain lately (old shoulder-bag injury). I just turned 65.
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Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James (48 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
possible costochondritis but need to rule out heart

Detailed Answer:
HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

Chest pain can originate from any structure in the chest from the skin inwards.

It sources can include: (1) the skin ( eg herpes zoster/shingles)
(2) muscles and other soft tissue as a result of inflammation or injury
(3)bones- ribs and/or sternum
(4)lungs
(5)heart
(6)esophagus

It is possible that the pain is related to costochondritis. This is inflammation of the cartilage where the ribs meet the sternum.
This causes central chest pain that can vary from mild to severe.The pain is usually constant and there maybe a history of increased activity such as the exercise you would have been doing today.

The pain tends to be worse on palpating the chest. It is treated with the use of anti inflammatory pain killers.

This includes medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, celebrex etc

As you mentioned, heart attack is a cause of pain particularly central chest pain. It may be associated with palpitations, shortness of breath and excess sweating (diaphoresis).
Women may sometimes not have the typical symptoms.

Though your pain may be costochondritis or related to inflammation of other tissues, it would be best to be assessed .
At age 65, a heart attack would need to be ruled out.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 16810 Questions

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What causes chest pain?

Brief Answer: possible costochondritis but need to rule out heart Detailed Answer: HI, thanks for using healthcare magic Chest pain can originate from any structure in the chest from the skin inwards. It sources can include: (1) the skin ( eg herpes zoster/shingles) (2) muscles and other soft tissue as a result of inflammation or injury (3)bones- ribs and/or sternum (4)lungs (5)heart (6)esophagus It is possible that the pain is related to costochondritis. This is inflammation of the cartilage where the ribs meet the sternum. This causes central chest pain that can vary from mild to severe.The pain is usually constant and there maybe a history of increased activity such as the exercise you would have been doing today. The pain tends to be worse on palpating the chest. It is treated with the use of anti inflammatory pain killers. This includes medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, celebrex etc As you mentioned, heart attack is a cause of pain particularly central chest pain. It may be associated with palpitations, shortness of breath and excess sweating (diaphoresis). Women may sometimes not have the typical symptoms. Though your pain may be costochondritis or related to inflammation of other tissues, it would be best to be assessed . At age 65, a heart attack would need to be ruled out. I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions