Pain in the chest – why is it dangerous and is it a symptom of the disease?

Chest pain - is the most common reason for visiting the doctor.

It involves the discomfort of a different nature, intensity, and localization, which often is a manifestation of the life-threatening disease, and requires immediate intervention.

The cause of the pain can be associated with the heart, for example, myocardial infarction, angina (atherosclerotic plaque, which accumulates on the walls of arteries and impairs blood circulation in the coronary arteries that supply the heart), aortic dissection (separation of the inner layers of the aorta), pericarditis (inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart).

Chest pain may also be caused by the diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (heartburn, esophageal disease, the problems associated with the gallbladder or pancreas).

Chest pain may also be caused by the diseases of the nervous, musculoskeletal, respiratory systems.

As you see, chest pain is not always associated with cardiac pathologies, and the cause may not be ischemic. That is why any pain in the chest requires attention and timely response. 

If you are familiar with these complaints, contact the clinic of the National Center of Surgery "New Life", where we offer the vitally important tests for your heart. You can conduct an ECG -electrocardiogram, which is a graphic representation of the electrical impulses that arise in the heart muscle during cardiac activity. This study allows us to quickly differentiate the characteristic symptoms of cardiovascular diseases.

In the cardiology room,  the treadmill is at your service, which is used for the stress tests. The patient is walking on the treadmill, which moves at a certain speed, while we record the electrocardiogram during this physical activity, which allows us to determine the presence of ischemic changes.

We also offer ultrasound examination of the heart. Echocardiography is the ultrasound study of the heart, which allows us to examine the heart chambers, valves, and other structures, estimate the contractility and functional parameters of the heart muscle.

The clinic suggests Holter monitoring, which is a diagnostic procedure in which the electrical activity of the heart is recorded during the day. This study requires 24 hours. This method of investigation is also called an outpatient electrocardiogram. The machine records the heart rhythm by the electrodes attached to the chest. The electrodes are small plastic plates that are connected to the monitor. This test will help your doctor to assess the performance of your heart, both under normal physical activity and at night, at rest.

The cardiologist of the clinic of the National Center of Surgery "New Life" Manana Gagua talks about the chest pain.

- Is it possible to diagnose the heart diseases by the quality of the pain?

- One of the main problems of heart pathology is the variability of symptoms and the patient's wrong perception of the pain. Cardiac pain is very diverse. That's why many patients seek the qualified help later. During the life-threatening condition, the treatment of the chest pain is most effective when the first symptoms appear. A timely diagnosis and treatment is the only way to save the life of the patient.

- What is the characteristic of the typical cardiac pain?

- Retrosternal (behind the sternum) discomfort, radiating (spreading) to both forearms and scapulae, lower jaw and teeth, epigastrium, neck. The pain lasts for 2-30 minutes. It may be initiated by the physical or emotional stress. It is relieved after the rest or taking the medication. The patients may describe the quality of their pain as crushing, heavy, stabbing, tearing, pressure and rarely tingling, discomfort. The chest pain is mainly associated with the stimulation of the autonomic nervous system, which is manifested as pallor, diaphoresis (increased sweating), cold skin, nausea, vomiting, dyspnea (difficulty breathing).

In the case of  non-cardiac chest pain, one or two (sometimes none) above mentioned symptoms may be manifested.

The diagnostic test for chest pain serves two main purposes:

  • Identify high-risk group patients and begin immediate treatment. 
  • Identify low-risk group patients.

To make the correct diagnosis it is necessary to conduct an electrocardiogram, echocardiography, chest x-ray and, correlate a laboratory data with them

The main goal of ECG is to diagnose an acute coronary syndrome in patients with chest pain. ECG is also used to diagnose the arrhythmia, left and right ventricular hypertrophy, conduction disorders.

Echocardiography is widely used to diagnose cardiovascular diseases. It can evaluate the size, shape, chambers, valve apparatus, walls, contractility and filling, blood circulation of the heart.

Echocardiography plays an important role in diagnosing the structural anomalies, cardiomyopathies, pericardial diseases and determining the adequate treatment plan. It should be noted that echocardiography is not sufficient to diagnose myocardial infarction, because the local contractile dysfunction may appear too late after the onset of first symptoms. Echocardiography is an important study tool to determine the short and long-term prognosis of the patient suffering from the systolic dysfunction.

- What can you tell us about the pain, which starts after physical activity?

- Pain in the chest caused by physical activity (during walking, walking up stairs or uphill, after eating or lifting weights) or any other physical exertion or emotional stress, is most often caused by angina pectoris. With an increase in physical activity, the intensity of pain increases, and after cessation, the pain  weakens and disappears completely after a couple of minutes.

Angina pectoris is characterized by the following clinical signs:

  • Chest pain behind the sternum (typical sign), less often in the neck, lower jaw, and  teeth, hands, back (mainly on the left side), heart area.
  • The quality of pain – crushing, pressure, the sensation of a foreign body in the chest region (sometimes the patient does not have pain, but the unpleasant sensations behind the sternum).
  • Increase in blood pressure, pallor, rapidly changing pulse, cardiac rhythm disturbances are noted along with the attack.

If you note any of these symptoms, you need to see a doctor timely!

- How do you treat the chest pain at the clinic "New Life"?

- Patients with chest pain can admit to the clinic "New Life", staffed with professionals and equipped with ultra-modern apparatus. Electrocardiogram, echocardiography, X-ray and other laboratory studies, biochemical markers are used for the diagnosis. Such an integrated approach helps us to get the right and effective clinical solutions. After the diagnosis, patients are treated using modern approaches and the latest guidelines.

The clinic “New Life” address: Tbilisi, Digomi Lubliana street №21a

You can contact the Call Center of “New Life” at 577 05 99 00;

If you have some questions, you can contact the cardiologist of the clinic “New Life” Manana Gagua at 599 32 34 39;    

Wish you health!