Chest pain has become a common complaint, in this Wi-Fi age. It has more or less become synonymous with heart attack. The erratic hi-tech lifestyles of the 20th century have put a tremendous pressure on the heart whose functioning remains the same irresponsible of the pace of the age to which one belong. Increased stress levels, intake of high fat-calorie-sugar food, decreased physical activity and disturbed sleep patterns are all factors responsible for chest pain. "People need to know that chest pain is not necessarily a sign of heart attack" says Jerry Gliklich, MD professor of medicine, Columbia University College of physicians and surgeons. But when confronted with a chest pain deal it sans (without) confusion.
Chest pain may ring the alarm bell of an underlying heart disorder or may even be due to other associated reasons. Do not panic, stay calm and try getting help. A quick glance at a few important points to determine the intensity of the situation –
• Nature of pain: Pain in the chest can be caused by almost every part of the chest. The intensity and type of pain is a distinguishing factor in 'ruling in or out' a heart attack. A squeezing pain accompanied with tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness can be a sure sign of heart attack or angina. Angina is the pain caused because of the narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This type of pain may radiate or travel to other areas typically the left arm. The pain may start and intensify on physical exertion like climbing stairs, walking uphill or lifting heavy objects or may occur even at rest called 'rest angina'. Sometimes a chest pain could be due to other reasons like gas or indigestion. Such a pain can relieved by antacids. A chest pain that does not go away after a few minutes can be serious if not attended to immediately. Chest pain that is not caused due to heart disorders can be a warning sign for other undering disorders.
• Previous medical history: People with a previous history of heart diseases, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure (hypertension) or obesity should take extra care and caution as they are at a higher risk of an attack.
• Family history: Genetic predisposition to cardiac disorders, heart attacks, high blood pressure increases the risk of a heart attack.
• Risk factors: There are several risk factors such as smoking, obesity, stress, alcoholism and unhealthy lifestyle choices. A cumulative effect of most of these factors is dangerous. Smoking, stress and sedentary lifestyle worsen the situation. Poor eating habits like excessive intake of saturated fats, erratic eating and sleep patterns aggravate the condition further.
• What to do: It sometimes becomes rather difficult to determine the seriousness of a chest pain. Stay calm and rest as the symptoms may aggravate with continued activity. Seeking medical attention when chest pain strikes is lifesaving. In any case immediately call the nearest physician for proper guidance. If the pain worsens call the emergency services (911 or as per the place where the person lives) or go to a nearby hospital. However, take help, do not go all by yourself. While waiting for medical help, start CPR (cardiopulmonary resustication) if the need be or as instructed by the medical specialist. "If you do not know CPR, beginning pushing hard and fast on the person's chest over the heart about 100 compressions a minute" – First aid -Mayoclinic. Although chest pain is a symptom of the condition of the heart or due to other reasons, it must never be ignored.