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Chest Pain, Ambulatory Care

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Chest pain

can be caused by a range of conditions, from not serious to life-threatening. It may be caused by a heart attack or a blood clot in your lungs. Sometimes chest pain or pressure is caused by poor blood flow to your heart (angina). Infection, inflammation, or a fracture in the bones or cartilage in your chest can cause pain or discomfort. Chest pain can also be a symptom of a digestive problem, such as acid reflux or a stomach ulcer.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Fever or sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort or pressure that spreads from your chest to your back, jaw, or arm
  • A racing or slow heartbeat
  • Feeling weak, tired, or faint

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Trouble breathing
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with trouble breathing


  • Chest discomfort that gets worse, even with medicine
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Black or bloody bowel movements
  • Vomiting that does not stop, or pain when you swallow

Treatment for chest pain

may include medicine to treat your symptoms while your healthcare provider determines the cause of your chest pain. You may also need any of the following:

  • Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.

Do not smoke:

If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking increases your risk for a heart attack and other heart and lung conditions. Ask your healthcare provider for information about how to stop smoking if you need help.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need more tests. You may be referred to a specialist, such as a cardiologist or gastroenterologist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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