Chest pain should never be ignored. If a person feels chest pain on the left side of their body, it could be a sign of a heart attack or other medical condition. Chest pain can be caused due to a variety of reasons. The most dangerous causes involve the heart or lungs. Since chest pain can indicate a serious problem, it's critical to seek medical attention right away.
Causes of left chest pain
Angina is not a disease in itself, rather, it is a symptom of heart issues like coronary heart disease. It is a form of chest pain, discomfort, or pressure that occurs when your heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen from the blood. You may also experience pain in your arms, shoulders, neck, back, or jaw.
Left-sided chest pain is frequently caused by acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
These conditions occur when stomach acid rises into the esophagus.
As a result, there is a burning sensation across the chest that can occur on either side. Other signs and symptoms may include:
- a burning feeling in the chest
- difficulty swallowing
- a sour taste in the mouth
A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle is damaged due to a lack of oxygen-rich blood. Some heart attacks begin with mild chest pain that gradually worsens. They can also begin suddenly, with intense pain on the left side or center of your chest. Other signs of a heart attack include:
- tightening pressure in the chest
- Left-arm pain, though it can also occur in the right arm
- You have shooting pain in your neck, jaw, back, or stomach.
- shortness of breath
- cold sweat
- nausea, or vomiting
- abdominal pain
A non-cardiac chest pain caused by an esophageal tear or rupture is a medical emergency.
When the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach tears, this condition occurs. This allows food or fluids from the mouth to enter the chest and circulate the lungs.
Other gastrointestinal issues
Various stomach and intestine problems can cause pain that begins or spreads to the chest. An ulcer, which is a sore in the intestine, can cause pain to radiate to the chest.
Gallbladder disease, like heart attack symptoms, can cause severe muscle spasms or painful pressure in the chest that extends to the upper back and breastbone.
Pancreatitis, which originates in the gastrointestinal tract, causes pain in the middle of the body, beneath the ribs. However, it can also feel like a constant, piercing pain in the chest. Besides chest pain, you may experience stomach pain, bloating, nausea, heartburn, gas, loss of appetite, and indigestion because of these digestive tract issues.
Lung problems can cause chest pain that gets worse every time you take a breath. Pneumonia is a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection of one or both lungs. Pain, cough, and fever follow, as does sharp or stabbing chest pain that worsens with deep breathing or coughing, especially if the left lung is infected.
A blood clot in the lung is known as a pulmonary embolism. These are uncommon, but they can cause chest pain that comes on suddenly, as well as difficulty breathing, especially when taking a deep breath. Shortness of breath, bloody coughing, or pink, foamy mucus are also common symptoms. A pulmonary embolism requires immediate medical attention. A collapsed lung (called a pneumothorax) can also cause left side chest pain that worsens when you breathe or cough, and also shortness of breath.
There are numerous types of soft tissue or bone injuries in the chest that can cause left-sided chest pain. A broken rib or costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage surrounding a rib, are two examples.
If a person has been in a traumatic event, like a fall or a car accident, these injuries may cause chest pain. Some symptoms of a musculoskeletal injury include:
- hearing or feeling a rib-related cracking sensation
- Pain that usually gets worse when you breathing
- Swelling or tenderness in a particular area
- bruising that is visible
Panic attacks strike suddenly and usually peak within 10 minutes. A panic attack can mimic a heart attack due to chest pain and other symptoms. Other symptoms, besides chest pain, include:
- shortness of breath
- rapid heartbeat
- sweating or chills
- feeling as though you might choke
- intense fear
When to seek emergency help?
Left-sided chest pain could be the result of a heart attack or another life-threatening condition in which every minute counts. If you or someone close to you is experiencing unexplained left-sided or center chest pain:
- chest pain or tightness that typically starts in the center of the chest and radiates outward
- feeling faint
- pain that may extend from the chest to the arms, neck, jaw, or shoulders
- shortness of breath
If you are experiencing any kind of symptoms related to left side chest pain, consult our experts. Book your appointment now.
Diagnosis for left chest pain
There are many potential causes of left-sided chest pain. When making a diagnosis, a doctor will consider a person's medical history and symptoms. A doctor may also examine the chest, heart, lungs, neck, and abdomen. After the physical examination, a doctor may order multiple tests, including:
- an ECG
- an X-ray
- a complete blood count (CBC)
- a computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA)
- an ultrasound
Treatment for left chest pain
The treatments for chest pain vary depending on the cause. For example, pain in the chest wall caused by arthritis or muscle strain may be treated with over-the-counter or prescription pain and inflammation medications.
Antibiotics treat bacterial heart infections and pneumonia, antacids relieve heartburn, "clot busters" dissolve blood clots, and anti-anxiety medications treat panic attacks. Nitroglycerin dilates blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow to the heart, while beta-blockers promote rest for the heart muscle, lower blood pressure, and prevent irregular heartbeats. Finally, pulmonary embolism-related chest pain may necessitate surgery to improve blood flow and prevent new clots from forming, as well as valve repair or replacement in the case of aortic dissection.