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What Are the Common Causes of Chest Pain?

Last updated 3 years ago

Each year, countless people visit the emergency room of their community hospital because of chest pain. It’s often thought that the primary cause of chest pain is a heart attack. While there are a wide range of causes of chest pain other than a heart attack, this symptom should never be taken lightly. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and go to the hospital promptly if you experience chest pain.

Heart Attack

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when the blood supply to the heart is obstructed. This causes the heart muscle to die within 20 to 40 minutes. The classic sign of a heart attack is chest pain; however, many other symptoms may occur, such as shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Women in particular may experience more subtle symptoms, rather than the classic crushing chest pain. At the hospital, doctors will work to restore blood flow to the heart.


Shingles is a skin rash caused when the varicella zoster virus, or the chickenpox virus, becomes reactivated. Shingles can cause flu-like symptoms without a fever, in addition to headache and sensitivity to light. The rash often extends from the back, around the side of the body, and then to the chest, and it can be quite painful.


The pericardial sac is the lining that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis occurs when this lining becomes inflamed, most likely because of a viral infection, an inflammatory disease, or a heart attack. It can also occur as a result of medications or radiation therapy. In addition to chest pain, patients may experience chills, sweats, fever, difficulty swallowing, and shortness of breath.

At Memorial Hospital of Tampa, we understand that medical emergencies can be stressful situations. The entire team at our hospital is committed to allaying your concerns by maintaining open communication, and providing extensive patient education and support. If you have an urgent concern that requires emergency transportation to our hospital in South Tampa, please call 911. Otherwise, contact us at (813) 873-6400.


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Disclaimer: The materials provided are intended for informational purposes only. You should contact your doctor for medical advice. Use of and access to this website or other materials do not create a physician-patient relationship. The opinions expressed through this website are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the hospital, medical staff, or any individual physician or other healthcare professional.
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