PASSING CHEST PAIN
From time to time you feel pain in your chest – either discomfort or serious pain, spreading to your arms and neck.
Chest pain is usually caused by innocent conditions such as a stitch, pulled muscle or heartburn. More concerning are gastrooesophageal reflux, costochondritis, or stress. The most serious, however, are angina or heart attack – where you could end up crawling for the telephone to call an ambulance. You’re likely to know if you’re having a heart attack: that means heavy squeezing on the chest, with pain radiating to your neck, jaw, arms and back, plus shortness of breath, lightheadedness and a feeling of weakness.
WHAT TO DO
Heartburn is a burning pain or discomfort that you get after eating, and can be treated by taking an antacid. To avoid gastrooesophageal reflux, cut back on booze, spicy food, coffee and chocolate, and try sleeping with your head raised. For any other recurring chest pain you should visit your GP, who may suggest that you have an electrocardiogram. If you suspect you’re having a heart attack, ‘bypass your GP and call 999 immediately,’ says Julie Ward, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation (bhf.org.uk).