Urgent Care for Chest Pains
Chest pains set alarms off for most people, sending them straight into the emergency room. But while it’s true that chest pains could be a sign of a heart attack, there are other medical conditions or health problems that can cause chest pains as well. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you are 50 years or older and you are experiencing chest pains.
Heart-Related Causes of Chest Pain
Heart-related chest pain can be severe and acute (as in the case of a heart attack) or it can be something that builds over time. For example, the pain could be connected to angina, a thickening of the arteries that makes blood flow difficult and causes pain when you get agitated, such as after exercise.
You could also be suffering from pericarditis, a viral infection that causes inflammation around the heart. This is reversible and should disappear after treatment.
Other Causes of Chest Pain
Heartburn is a very common cause of chest pain. It occurs when stomach acid moves up into the esophagus, causing a feeling of burning high in your chest. .
It’s also possible to have chest pain because of an injury to your ribs or due to fibromyalgia, an inflammatory condition.
Although rare, pulmonary embolisms or a collapsed lung can also cause chest pain. In addition, people with pulmonary hypertension can also feel an intense pressure in the chest that feels painful.
Finally, chest pain can also occur during a panic attack. It may appear together with a rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing.
If you are experiencing chest pains, come in for an assessment and our health care providers will check your vital signs, ask a series of questions and do a physical examination to determine the possible causes of your pain. Some of the tests we may perform as part of this assessment include:
- blood tests
- electrocardiogram (called EGC or EKG)
- chest x-ray
We may give you medicine to help establish the cause of your chest pains and/or protect your heart while trying to identify the cause of your chest pains. Once we know what the reason is for your pain, we will either treat you and send you home or refer you for further treatment. If we can’t treat your condition, or we believe it needs to be investigated further, we’ll help to arrange your transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency room.
There’s no single way to treat chest pain. That’s because chest pain is simply a symptom, not a condition in itself. In order for the pain to go away, your provider must first determine what’s causing it and then treat the underlying problem.
For example, if you turn out to have a heart condition, your provider might prescribe artery relaxers, clot-busting drugs or blood thinners. If the pain is connected to your digestive system, you might need to take antacids. People suffering panic attacks might be prescribed anti-anxiety drugs and referred to a therapist for help.
To figure out what your causes of chest pain are from and the type of patient treatment you need, please make an appointment with one of our urgent care Rockville, MD providers for a complete assessment.
When to Seek Emergency Help
Because chest pain can be confusing and scary, it’s important that you keep your eyes open for potential signs of a heart attack. If you experience a combination of chest pain and any of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately.
- Severe chest pains
- A sudden tightness or pressure on your chest
- Pain on your left arm or upper back
- Pain moving up to your jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and dizziness
- Excessive sweating
- Confusion and difficulty concentrating
- Very low or very fast heart rate
Although not an emergency, the following signs also merit a provider’s visit because they can signal underlying issues that need to be resolved:
- Problems swallowing
- Intense chest pain that remains constant for several days (or longer)
- Pain that gets worse when you change body positions, such as standing up or lying down
- Fever and chills (along with chest pain, it could indicate a lung infection, such as pneumonia)
If you are experiencing chest pains, call your health care professional or 911 immediately.