When to Use the ER? Chest pain lasting two minutes or more
Chest pain, especially for those in their 40s and above, is usually a sign of heart problems. However, that does not mean younger people should ignore it. It is especially so if that chest pain lasts for more than two minutes. Chest pain could be a sign of indigestion or an impending heart attack. You should never ignore chest pain that hits you suddenly while you are at rest, walking or exercising.
Sensation of Pressure
If you begin to experience squeezing, crushing, pressure on your chest, it might be a sign of various things. For one, it could be a sign that you are under a lot of stress or it could indicate that you are about to experience a heart attack. If the chest pain is recurring, it could a sign of coronary artery disease.
If the chest pain persists more than two minutes and goes on for about 10 minutes, go to the ER. You should also visit an ER such as Bellaire ER if this pain is accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, or fainting. The best choice would be to call an ambulance to get you there in case the situation gets worse before you get to the ER.
It can be hard to determine what is causing chest pain, even by an experienced doctor. However, in high-risk patients, sudden bouts of chest pain are usually a sign of a major underlying heart problem. Here is a breakdown of common types of chest pains:
This is a type of chest pain, which arises from just below the sternum. It usually occurs when there is reduced blood flow to the heart because of blockages to the coronary artery. This type of pain is usually a clear sign of coronary heart disease.
Chest pain, which is characterized by a feeling of heaviness, crushing, or tightness below the sternum.
Duration of two to 15 minutes of persistent pain
Triggered by emotional stress, heavy lifting or strenuous exercising
This type of pain usually varies in severity. There are different subclasses of this pain, but the most common is stable angina. It usually lasts just a few minutes and only occurs during physical exercise such as climbing up the stairs or when you are stressed mentally or emotionally. The symptoms will often disappear after some rest and medication. This type of pain is not an indication of a heart attack.
The unstable angina is what you need to be wary of because it occurs even while at rest. The pain usually lasts for between two to 30 minutes. Besides that, it does not disappear with medication or rest. This type of pain may become a heart attack if there is a total blockage of the coronary artery.
New onset stable angina occurs when stable angina increases in frequency. It is especially so if the frequency grows with even less exertion. In such a case, it is classified as unstable angina. This is usually a sign that the blockage has progressed.
There is also another type of chest pain called variant angina. This pain occurs due to spasms in the coronary artery, which lead to reduced blood flow to the heart muscles. The chest pain is usually quite intense and can occur even at rest. The spasms usually resolve spontaneously. However, if not controlled, it could cause a heart attack. The best way to treat it is by using medication to cause immediate relief.
Heart Attack Chest Pain
The chest pain that causes a heart attack is usually quite intense compared to angina pain. This pain usually always lasts for more than 15 minutes. Even when the patient rests, there is usually no relief.
Some of the other signs of a heart attack chest pain are vomiting, nausea, dizziness, sweating, loss of breath, irregular and fast heartbeats, and radiating pain to the neck and arms from the chest.
Chest Wall Pain
Pain in the chest wall is usually harmless and is characterized by a sharp pain in the bones, muscles, or cartilage that makes up the chest wall. The possible causes of this pain include strained chest muscles, prolonged coughing, injury, inflammation of the cartilages, and due to gastrointestinal tract issues.
A blood clot in the lung artery could also lead to sudden sharp chest pain. This is usually caused by long periods of immobilizing the legs such as on long-distance plane rides. This causes clots in the legs to travel to the lungs, where they cause severe pain and a fast heartbeat. A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency.
This usually occurs when the layers of the wall of the aorta split. The pain is usually described as tearing in the chest, which radiates to the back. In some cases, this dissection could find its way to the root of the aorta and block a coronary artery, causing a heart attack. It usually requires an immediate visit to the ER.