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Noncardiac Chest Pain
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Noncardiac chest pain is pain or discomfort in your chest not caused by a heart problem. Possible causes include acid reflux, nerve or muscle problems, emotions, or chest wall or rib pain.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have severe chest pain.
Call your doctor if:
- Your chest pain does not get better, even with treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to treat the cause of your chest pain. You may be given medicines to decrease pain, relieve anxiety, decrease acid reflux, or relax muscles in your esophagus.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Cognitive therapy may be helpful if you have panic attacks, anxiety, or depression. It can help you change how you react to situations that tend to trigger your chest pain.
Healthy living tips:
The following are general healthy guidelines. If the cause of your chest pain is known, your healthcare provider will give you specific guidelines to follow.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung and heart damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Choose a variety of healthy foods as often as possible. Include fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables. Also include low-fat dairy products, fish, chicken (without skin), and lean meats. Your healthcare provider or a dietitian can help you create meal plans. You may need to avoid certain foods or drinks if your pain is caused by a digestion problem.
- Lower your sodium (salt) intake. Limit foods that are high in sodium, such as canned foods, salty snacks, and cold cuts. If you add salt when you cook food, do not add more at the table. Choose low-sodium canned foods as much as possible.
- Ask about activity. Your healthcare provider will tell you which activities to limit or avoid. Ask when you can drive, return to work, and have sex. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider what a healthy weight is for you. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Ask about vaccines you may need. Get the influenza (flu) vaccine every year as soon as recommended, usually in September or October. You may also need a pneumococcal vaccine to prevent pneumonia. The vaccine is usually given every 5 years, starting at age 65. Your healthcare provider can tell you if should get other vaccines, and when to get them.
Follow up with your doctor as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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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