When Chest Pain Isn’t Your Heart

Almost 30 percent of patients tested for a possible heart attack find that their pain is due to something else. Many cases turn out to be caused by a problem in the esophagus—(the tube that connects your throat and stomach).

The esophagus and heart are in close proximity and even have a similar nerve supply. Without tests, doctors often can’t distinguish between esophagus pain and heart pain.

The most common cause of non-heart-related chest pain is heartburn—or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Heartburn is caused when stomach acid rises into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation.

Even when heart problems are ruled out, finding the true problem can be difficult.

Other causes of chest pain include:

  • Psychological stress, anxiety, panic attacks
    and depression
  • Lung conditions that cause inflammation of the lining of your chest cavity (pleurisy), asthma, and pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lung)
  • Musculoskeletal pain can include pinched nerves, injured ribs or inflamed rib cartilage, and sore muscles
  • Chronic pain from diseases such as fibromyalgia
  • Gastric problems with the stomach or gallbladder

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