Chest pressure: What is the cause of the dreaded chest pain?

Chest pressure: What is the cause of the dreaded chest pain?
Photo source: Getty images

Pressure pain in the chest tends to be present with heart problems. It does not stop there, of course. It can also be caused by other diseases.

Chest tightness is a certain type of pain. It can manifest itself in the form of pressure clenching of the chest, but it can also be dull.

Alternatively, it may be shooting from other parts of the body directly into the chest or, conversely, spreading from the chest to other parts.

Tip: For more general information, see the article on chest pain.

Pressure pain can come from different areas. For example, in pathological changes in the breasts, in problems with the lungs during a tumor or inflammatory disease.

It is even caused by problems with the spine. Then the pain shoots forward to the chest.

Cardiovascular disease as a cause of chest pressure

Chest pressure arises, for example, during physical exertion and physical activity, when the body has a deficit of oxygen. It accompanies the feeling of chest discomfort, most often in diseases of the cardiovascular system.

These diseases include coronary heart disease.

Ischemic heart disease is manifested by a constricting pressure pain, which is also referred to as angina pectoris.

There is chest pain and an increase in blood pressure, and the affected person may experience pallor. The pain is felt mainly behind the breastbone in the middle of the chest.

Angina pectoris can be stable, then it is called stable angina. Its course is always the same, it does not change. It lasts up to 15-20 minutes. It usually occurs after physical or mental stress.

It subsides with the interruption of activity, calming down.

The unstable form of angina is different. Its cause may not be obvious. Chest pain may start without cause. The nature or intensity may vary. And the associated symptoms. It is a risk of myocardial infarction.

Myocardialinfarction is an acute condition characterised by typical chest pain, which can vary in nature. It may be, for example, pressure, tightness, burning or other vague sensations in the chest or near the heart.

The pain may radiate from the chest to the surrounding area. The pain may typically radiate to the left upper limb, neck, jaw, teeth or abdomen.

EKG exam of the man, electrodes on his chest, two doctors examining him
ECG examination to rule out heart attack. Source of the photo: Getty Images

Associated symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath
  • heart palpitations
  • Pallor
  • sweating
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • fear of death, anxiety

First aid for myocardial infarction in a magazine article.

In hypertension(high blood pressure), chest pains occur in some cases. These may be pressure-related. Breathing problems, i.e. shortness of breath, are also associated.

In some people, it can also manifest itself in heart palpitations. This is especially typical if the person also suffers from coronary heart disease. High pressure itself also causes headaches and excessive fatigue.

Several heart diseases are also manifested by chest pain or pressure. Of course, they are accompanied by other symptoms. For example, pericarditis (inflammation of the pericardium) is characterised by chest pain.

There is also fatigue, shortness of breath, pain between the shoulder blades and sometimes pain that shoots up into the neck.

The inflammation itself affects the pericardium, which is a membrane made up of two leaves, inside which is the heart. The disease is dangerous in that the pericardium is responsible for keeping the heart in a fixed position and protecting it from infection. This can also lead to a malfunction of the heart.

However, inflammatory disease can also penetrate directly to the heart in the case of myocarditis. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart). Its inflammation can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites.

The disease is caused by an infection in the heart muscle, which triggers an immune response. Inflammation occurs. The danger is in the damage to the heart muscle and the formation of deposits of dead tissue. This results in impaired function of the remaining healthy tissue.

It can also occur in aneurysm.

An aneurysm is a pathological bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. Most often, it is caused by its atherosclerosis and damage to the vessel wall. Such pressure occurs when there is an aneurysm of the vessels located in the chest cavity.

Read also the following articles:
Aortic dissection
Aortic disease
General aneurysm

Non-cardiac causes of chest pressure problems

The chest cavity houses the respiratory system and part of the digestive system in addition to the heart and blood vessels.

The rib cage is made up of bones and muscles. And also ribs, spine and other soft structures. Problems can stem from any part.

The respiratory system can be the reason

In the pulmonary vessels on the basis of a blood clot, an obstruction arises, and then it is a pulmonary embolism. This is characterized by pain and pressure in the chest, as well as difficulty breathing.

Often pulmonary embolism is associated with venous thrombosis of the lower limbs. Here, a blood clot forms, which then travels to the lungs.

Another cause from the respiratory system is infections.

Inflammation of the lower respiratory tract or lungs. Inflammation can also affect the pleura. This inflammation is referred to as pleurisy.

Model of the respiratory system, placement in the thorax
Respiratory system, lungs. Photo source: Getty Images

Chest pain can also have other causes, such as pneumothorax and pulmonary hypertension.

Cancer affects the lungs but also other parts of the respiratory system. Rarely, cancer can also arise in the mediastinum.

These tumours are mostly benign. Unlike lung cancer, these diseases also cause chest pressure problems.

Pain radiating from the digestive system

Chest pain can also radiate from the digestive system. It is a common phenomenon, especially in gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD), but also in esophageal spasm. Spasm is a contraction of the muscles of the esophagus, for example, when swallowing a hot bite or when swallowing a large bite.

Gastroduodenal ulcer disease can also be the cause.

Musculoskeletal problems

Problems with the spine are among the perceived discomforts that also manifest themselves in radiating pain into the chest or limiting mobility. Muscles in the area may also be overloaded.

Another cause is Tietz syndrome, which is inflammation of the cartilage of the ribs.

For more information, see also the magazine article What does pain between the shoulder blades mean

Problems as a result of an injury

Chest pressure can also occur after a fracture of the sternum or ribs. More serious fractures of the rib cage are more complicated. They can cause bleeding or air penetration into the pleural cavity.

This threatens the health and life of the sufferer.

A young man, a businessman is in trouble, chest pains, maybe he has a heart attack or is overworked
Work overload and long-term stress. Photo source: Getty Images

Psychology and its link to chest pain

Prolonged stress and increased psychological strain cause a person's overall health to deteriorate. Of course, the mental side also results in physical difficulties.

An example is anxiety, which can mimic a heart problem. In addition to anxiety, depression, neurosis or neurocirculatory asthenia can also contribute to chest tightness or pressure.

If you experience chest pain or pressure in the chest area, without any obvious cause of physical congestion, it is better to see a doctor in any case.

fshare on Facebook

Interesting resources

The aim of the portal and content is not to replace professional examination. The content is for informational and non-binding purposes only, not advisory. In case of health problems, we recommend seeking professional help, visiting or contacting a doctor or pharmacist.