Sanul Corrielus, a cardiologist in Philadelphia, PA, asserts that chest pains can be problematic, even when they have less to do with a heart attack. Thus, knowing when to consider chest pain a medical emergency or when to notify your cardiologist on your subsequent appointment is crucial. Besides being a sign of a cardiac condition, chest pain might also indicate complications related to other issues, including digestion and respiration. 

So, what are the common causes of chest pains you should watch out for?


Angina mainly results from insufficient blood flowing to your heart muscle, meaning that the muscle is not receiving adequate oxygen. The dramatic reduction makes you feel like something is squeezing your heart. The pain might also cause pain and discomfort in your back, arms, neck, jaw, and abdomen. Angina is a common sign you are likely to experience with coronary artery disease (CAD), which happens when fat builds up in your arteries, reducing the blood flow. Angina can either be stable or unstable. While stable angina resolves with medication and rest, unstable angina is severe and might not resolve immediately with intervention. It is a sign that you are about to experience a heart attack.

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP)

The mitral valve exists between your atrium and ventricle (the heart’s left chambers), preventing blood from flowing the wrong way. Unfortunately, a prolapse might prompt small amounts of blood to leak to the atrium. Though MVP might not have symptoms, sometimes victims might experience chest discomfort, shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, and anxiety.    

Lung disease

Certain lung conditions like pneumonia might cause chest pains, especially when coughing or breathing. Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot disintegrates and flows to your lungs might also cause chest pain. Other symptoms you might have with the life-threatening condition include coughing blood, shortness of breath, and irregular heartbeat.

Peptic ulcer

This is a sore in your stomach’s lining, or the upper segment of your small intestine, resulting from a burning stomach pain that usually starts during the night or between meals. The pain is likely to resolve with food or when you take antacids. 


Pericardium surrounds your heart, ensuring that it functions effectively. The fluid-filled sac also helps your heart stay in position. Thus, pericarditis, an inflammation of the layers of the pericardium, might trigger chest pain. 


Heartburn (acid reflux) happens when your stomach acids rise to your esophagus, causing a burning and painful sensation in your chest—heartburn results from various factors, including pregnancy and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). Besides the burning sensation in your chest, your mouth might also have an acidic taste.

Chest wall pain

Injuries like sprains and bruises to your chest and other complications of your chest’s muscles, nerves, or bones may cause chest pain. Additionally, chest wall pain might result from conditions like costochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage that is likely to spread pain along your breastbone).

Besides the common causes, chest pain might also result from anxiety or panic attacks. However, a panic attack mostly happens if you suffer from an anxiety disorder or when you suddenly feel anxious. Call your doctor instantly when you experience chest pain, even if you do not have a heart attack, to help understand the pain’s source. 

By Alexander James

Beau Alexander James: Beau, a mental health advocate, shares personal stories, coping strategies, and promotes mental health awareness and understanding.