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Chest & Abdominal Pain

When You Should Seek Emergency Medical Attention

Experiencing sudden chest or abdominal pain is frightening, and you may worry that you’re having a heart attack, appendicitis, or perhaps an anxiety attack. By monitoring your symptoms, you’ll know whether you require emergency medical attention.

Whether you have chest and/or abdominal pain, your doctor will order tests to diagnose or eliminate what is causing your symptoms. These may include an electrocardiogram (EKG, to record electrical activity of the heart), blood tests to measure enzyme levels, chest X-rays to examine the heart/lungs/blood vessels, and other tests.

I Have Chest Pain. Am I Having a Heart Attack?

Chest pain varies in intensity, duration, and location, and it may feel like a persistent dull ache or a sharp stabbing sensation. One telltale sign of a heart attack is sudden chest pain, but there are many other possible causes of your chest pain. In fact, only about 13% of all patients who visit an emergency room for chest pain end up being diagnosed with a serious heart-related condition. However, you should not ignore chest pain or hope it goes away, especially if you have risk factors such as heart disease, you’re a smoker, you’ve overweight, you have diabetes, or have high blood pressure.

Your doctor may treat your chest pain with noninvasive therapies, such as medication. If your chest pain is heart-related, you may require surgery. Common surgical procedures for heart-related conditions include cardiac catheterization to open blocked arteries, or coronary bypass, which is a surgical repair of the arteries. Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor may recommend additional treatments to manage your condition, such as holistic therapies.

Chest pain may be caused by:

  • Heart attack: a blockage of blood flow to the heart
  • Angina: Blockage of the blood vessels leading to the heart
  • Pericarditis: Heart sac inflammation
  • Myocarditis: Heart muscle inflammation
  • Cardiomyopathy: Heart muscle disease
  • Aortic dissection: aortic tear
  • Acid reflux: heartburn
  • Gallstones: deposits of digestive fluid in the gallbladder
  • Pneumonia: a respiratory illness
  • Bruising or fractures: broken ribs may cause chest pain
  • Anxiety attack: sudden, excruciating psychological distress
  • And more

Abdominal Pain: When Is it an Emergency?

Abdominal pain is common, so you may wonder if a true emergency. Many people worry their abdominal pain is a sign of appendicitis, a condition when the appendix is about to burst.

Abdominal pain should be treated promptly if the following are true:

  • You are pregnant
  • You’ve had abdominal surgery
  • You have breathing difficulties
  • You feel faint, dizzy, or disoriented
  • You have bloody diarrhea or vomiting
  • Your abdomen is bloated
  • You are unable to have a bowel movement
  • You have pain or pressure in your chest at the same time
  • Your pain increases when you move

Contact Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care for further information about emergency care for chest or abdominal pain. We are in-network with most major health insurance plans, including Medicare.