If you experience pain in your chest, it could be a sign that you are having a heart attack. This is especially true if the pain is severe and lasts longer than a few seconds. However, heart attack symptoms do not always follow a predictable pattern, which makes diagnosis more difficult. Further complicating the matter, according to Health Magazine, is the fact that chest pain can result from conditions other than a heart attack.
A heart attack is a medical emergency, and the time it takes to diagnose and treat it could mean the difference between life and death. Therefore, if you complain of chest pain to your doctor, he or she will usually perform a cardiac workup first to confirm it or rule it out. However, it is possible that your doctor could mistake your heart attack for another condition that causes similar symptoms, or vice versa.
- Panic attack
Though the cause of a panic attack is psychological, the symptoms are physical in nature. Panic attacks can cause you to experience chest pain, nausea and sweating, which are similar to the symptoms of a heart attack. Like a heart attack, a panic attack typically comes on suddenly.
- Muscle strain
If you experience physical exertion after long periods of inactivity, you may develop muscle strain. The muscles in your chest are as susceptible to this as others, and muscle strain in this area can cause chest pain that you may confuse for a heart attack. When in doubt, you should always see a doctor for chest pain. However, your symptoms are more likely musculoskeletal in nature if the pain increases when you apply pressure to the area of tenderness.
Despite the name, heartburn is not a cardiac issue at all. The cause is a backup of stomach acid into the esophagus. However, it does cause a painful burning sensation in the chest, and since heartburn pain can range in severity, it is possible that you or your doctor could mistake it for a heart attack.