Pain on the left side of your chest – All You need to Know

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chest pain left side

Is it a heart attack? Exactly as I thought so, this is the immediate idea that pops into your head as you feel a sudden chest pain on the left side. And No, it is not always a heart attack if you feel such a pain. Various other problems can be the reason for it along with the possibilities of a heart attack.

This article will leave you with the knowledge to know what you should do and what you should expect if you do unfortunately face such a situation. Covering everything you need to know about it from its symptoms to the causes and preventions of such a pain.

So sit back and relax as you discover more about this pain.

Now you’re not wrong about it being a heart issue but not necessarily a heart attack. Most left side chest pains occur due to problems with the heart as it is located on the left side of our chest.

To begin with, yes it does sound like a heart attack given that it is pain from the left side of your chest and your heart being located there, but that is not always the case. So let’s begin with the indications that tell us the pain you feel is NOT a heart attack but rather something else.

A Worsening Pain

chest pain left side

A person who believes that he is possibly having a heart attack would not feel a worsening pain while breathing. Hence, if he does he is not facing a heart attack.

Pain from Different Locations

When someone is having a heart attack they feel the pain spread to their shoulder blades and into their arms whilst also reaching their jaw. It does not stretch from one end of the body to the other.

Pain from one specific location

It’s not a heart attack if you have a pain that solely hurts one single part of your body. Heart attacks cause pain to most of the body and not one specific part of it. 

However, if you do have a heart attack these would be your symptoms:

  • Pain generally begins from the center of your chest and radiates outwards
  • Short of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Extending pain to your shoulders, arms, neck or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea 

If you notice most of these symptoms, it’s certainly advisable to call your national emergency number for immediate maintenance as it may be heading towards an immediate heart attack. 

A Left Side Pain on the Chest Could Mean these Problems 

  • Angina
  • Myocarditis
  • Coronary artery dissection
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Chronic pericarditis
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Gastrointestinal pain 

Now, let’s break these problems down to get a more helpful understanding.

Agina

Angina takes place due to decreased blood flow that goes to your heart muscles hence causing you to have chest pain. This could be treated as a danger warning that you might be overlooking the possibility of a heart attack and should go to a hospital immediately. Angina takes place on the left side of your body, primarily your left chest as it reaches your left arm, neck, back as well as your jaw.

Two different types of angina can occur, stable angina or unstable angina. As simple as it can be described, stable angina is the more well-known one and takes place from a trigger such a heavy exercise or stress and it stops within a few minutes of resting yourself.

 However, the unstable angina attack unpredictably takes place hence does not have a trigger to it as such. This is a more serious form of attack in comparison to the stable angina attack as it can also continue despite resting.

There is also a probability of a person to have an unstable angina attack after having a stable angina attack.

Myocarditis

Myocarditis is a heart disease that creates inflammation in the heart muscle. It causes the heart to enlarge and as it also becomes weaker due to it. This makes it more difficult to circulate blood and oxygen throughout the body as scar tissue is being created. It could take place because of a viral infection or even a reaction to a drug.

This disease can be quite dangerous to one’s health; it is twice more common among men than women. Myocarditis is the 3rd leading cause of sudden death within children and young adults. If a person is diagnosed with this disease it can recur again and cannot be stopped although the chances are low.

Being classified as a rare disease, a fair quantity of people has fallen victim to it. As research shows, in the year 2017, 3.1 million individuals were diagnosed with myocarditis.

 Its symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and arrhythmias. This causes blood clots to occur leading to a stroke or heart attack.

Coronary Artery Dissection

Coronary artery dissection is also known as spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), this causes a heart attack to take place. It occurs when a tear in the blood vessel takes place in your heart. A heart attack is caused as this condition slows or rather blocks your blood flow to your heart.

SCAD slows down the blood flow through the artery which weakens the heart muscles due to lack of blood.

The blood flow could also completely be stopped which could cause the heart muscle to die.

Abnormalities in heart rhythm, as well as sudden death, could even take place. Hence, must be treated immediately. It commonly affects women between their 40s and 50s although it can occur at any age to both men and women. 

Its symptoms are quite much similar to the symptoms of a heart attack. Immediate medical attention is expected if such a situation arises as the consequences can be severe. 

Mitral Valve Prolapse

Anxiety chest pain

Mitral valve prolapse takes place when the leaflets of the mitral valve Prolapse (slip forward) into the left atrium (hearts left upper chamber) during the contraction of the heart. This happens when mitral valve prolapse sometimes leaks blood back into the left atrium.   

This isn’t the most threatening of left chest pains as it doesn’t require special treatment. However, medication can be taken for it which would help this issue. 

Its symptoms can be: 

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or any difficulty in breathing during physical activity or simply lying flat.
  • A racing or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) 

If you notice these symptoms it’s best you consult a doctor immediately because it cannot be assured that you have mitral valve prolapse as it could even be a heart attack. Majority of men are faced with this condition, the symptoms show more severely for men above the age of 50.

Chronic Pericarditis

Chronic pericarditis is yet another left side chest pain that we’ll briefly go through. This one, like every other pain, is located and takes place due to the heart although it’s not a heart attack.

The pericardium is a thin double-walled sac that surrounds your heart; it protects and keeps your heart in place through lubrication to support it to work. 

Inflammation on the pericardium for over 3 months is called Chronic Pericarditis. A minimal amount of fluid is positioned in between the sac and the heart, this fluid rises in volume which would lead to it containing pus hence leading to problems with one’s heartbeat. This occurs due to Chronic Pericarditis. 

The symptoms of this condition are as follows:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • More frequently feeling fatigued
  • Worsening pain in chest when lying down

A direct cause to this condition is not clear, although these are some of the causes:

  • Damage to the sac through injuries
  • Certain medicines used to treat high blood pressure, cancer and infection 
  • Heart attack, kidney failure or other conditions
  • Heart surgeries or therapies
  • Germs and infection

Chronic pericarditis requires medications to better it and can be cured through certain procedures. It can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Consulting a doctor sooner is best for you as it can evade any further damages to your heart or your life.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy 

chest pain left side

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition like others that takes place in the heart. It occurs when there is a thickening (hypertrophy) of a portion of your heart which would cause the heart to be less able to pump blood more effectively. This is because the heart muscle stiffens making the functions harder to carry out for the heart. The condition is an inherited one that can be passed from your family to you if they have this condition.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, like every other condition, explained above is another left side chest pain that affects the left ventricle as it thickens that part of your heart muscle. Unfortunately, it is a genetic disorder, hence as spoken above can be passed to you from your family due to abnormal genes.

It generally isn’t very severe as the symptoms can be from nothing at all to shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, rapid heartbeat, etc. however it can be life-threatening for a small population who has this condition as they may face severe arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat).

Like every other condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should be treated and observed immediately.

Gastrointestinal Pain 

Gastrointestinal pain takes place due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as well as Acid reflux. It happens when the contents in your body move upwards and into your esophagus.

It is argued that GERD and Acid reflux is alike, it isn’t. GERD is the condition you have when you meet the symptoms of acid reflux for more than twice a week. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), GERD is quite a well-known condition as it affects approximately about 20% of the population in the United States.

You will undergo a burning sensation known as heartburn when you have GERD; it is one of the symptoms of the disease. The most severe GERD can be is that the person faces difficulty in swallowing which could go to as more serious as asthma or a chronic cough. Having acid reflux can alter the taste at the back of our mouth as it may taste more bitter/sour.

There is a circular band at the end of your esophagus called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES). It relaxes and opens when you swallow and vice versa. Acid reflux takes place when the LES does not operate efficiently as it doesn’t tighten or close properly.

To prevent this condition and recover from it, over the counter medications prescribed by the doctor will be beneficial for you to get better.

Anxiety

chest pain left side

Anxiety is the final chest pain that affects every part of your chest as well as your left side. It creates stomach and intestinal distress along with a tightening of the chest as well as the rib cage muscles which is the reason behind the chest pain from all areas as well as the left side.

It is a sharp burning sensation that is felt when it takes place, heavy tension in the chest or pressure that can range from slight to severe. Anxiety can be remedied easily if treatments and medications are followed. This can help evade the left side chest pain. By considering deep breathing, stress management or even having a good rest daily can gradually cure anxiety.

Conclusion

Finally, we approach the end of this article on chest pains located on the left side. We covered the potential chest pains from angina to myocarditis etc. as it is much more obvious to us that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a heart attack which would cause chest pain on the left side of your chest. Although a heart attack can take place after some of these conditions have occurred, it isn’t always the primary condition to take place.

One thing we learned for sure from this article is that immediate medical help is recommended and best for your health if it becomes unmanageable as you could be leaning your way towards a dangerous situation or a heart attack. The most suitable action to take is to not panic and react more smartly by ensuring you get yourself to the most neighboring hospital as soon as possible if the situation arises.

Well, this is all you need to know about chest pains located on the left side of your chest, in hope that this article clarifies all your doubts on this topic that is best read by a majority of readers to make any precautionary decisions if needed to. Hopefully, you don’t face such a situation.

Good luck to a healthier life!

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