• Dr Amir Waly

Help, I have Chest Pain!

Chest Pain can be a serious event, and I have seen a fair bit of it working in emergency departments, and on the wards. It typically feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest, and can be very uncomfortable. You may even find yourself becoming short of breath and sweat. At this point, general advice would be to call an ambulance. Keep in mind, it is not your job to decide whether your chest pain is serious or not. Often times, I have found patients apologising for calling the ambulance and coming into the emergency department. My reply to them would be to not apologise, and to call the ambulance if they feel something is not right.

A number of serious conditions can cause chest pain, with a heart attack being on everyones mind. And so it should be, as it is the first thing on the doctors mind as well. There are a few risk factors which can increase the likelihood of a serious event, including:

-Smoking (the more you smoke, the greater the risk)

-Alcohol (the more you drink, the greater the risk)

-Recreational drug use

-Diabetes (causes what's called silent heart attacks)

-High blood pressure

-High cholesterol

-Overweight and Obesity

-Family history of heart problems

-Previous personal heart problems

If you were to google, or even open a medical textbook to the section on heart attacks, you'll typically read this:

"Central retrosternal chest tightness radiating to the left upper limb and associated with nausea, vomiting, diaphoresis and dyspnoea"

This basically means you're likely to feel pressure, deep and in the middle of the chest, with the discomfort going up to your left shoulder or arm, and you may feel sweaty, nauseous and short of breath. Having said that, not all of these features need to happen for you to consider calling the ambulance, for example if you have diabetes, the nerves which respond to pain/pressure stop working, as such you will not feel the typical chest discomfort, hence the name "silent heart attacks"

This is only a very short blurb about chest pain, but it is a serious event, and the moral of the story is, you don't have to be sure, and seek help as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: This blog contains medical information of general nature and as such does not serve to replace issued by your personal GP and/or specialist. The aim is to increase awareness of the aforementioned issue.


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