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Noncardiac Chest Pain
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What do I need to know about noncardiac chest pain?
Noncardiac chest pain is pain or discomfort in your chest that is not caused by a heart problem.
What causes or increases my risk for noncardiac chest pain?
- Acid reflux
- Nerve or muscle problems within the esophagus that slow the movement of food
- Increased sensitivity to pain within your esophagus
- Panic attacks, anxiety, or depression
- Chest wall, muscle, or rib pain
How is the cause of noncardiac chest pain diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. You may also need any of the following:
- pH monitoring is used to check your throat for acid reflux.
- Manometry measures the pressure within the esophagus. This test may show nerve or muscle problems that cause slow movement of food.
- An endoscopy may be done to check for ulcers or problem with your esophagus.
How is noncardiac chest pain treated?
Treatment depends on the cause of your chest pain. You may need any of the following:
- 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.
- 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.
What are some 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.
When should I seek immediate care?
- You have severe chest pain.
When should I call my doctor?
- Your chest pain does not get better, even with treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers 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.
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