Chest pain

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Medical Emergency - Chest pain is a common presentation in A&E. Whilst not always serious, there are several causes that need prompt management.


Pain, in the chestal region. Pleuritic chest pain is, very specifically a sharp, inspiratory pain. If it's no sharp, it ain't pleuritic. If it's not inspiratory, it ain't pleuritic. So there.


Common.jpg Pretty common, since half the country has heart disease.


The commonest cause of chest pain is probably reflux, or ischaemic heart disease. The cause of the pain in these situations is very different. In the former, irritation of the bottom of the oesophagus causes pain, in the latter, ischaemia of muscles causes a deep sensation of pain.

Clinical and Associated Features


Worrying symptoms

Less worrying symptoms

  • Mild pain
  • Sore throat
  • Relieved by antacids
  • Pain originally brought on by an abnormal muscle movement, or made worse on physical movement.

Differential Diagnosis


The following 6 causes can be fatal, so you should probably know how to diagnose them!

Urgent but not emergency

Not even urgent

Investigations and Management

If it is obviously something non serious, you obviously deal with the underlying problem.

However, if you have been admitted to A&E, the first thing they will do is ABC. If you are seriously short of breath, they will put you on high flow oxygen, setting up vitals statistics for blood pressure and heart rate.

Then the next step is an ECG, a Chest Xray and some blood tests in the realm of an FBC, U+Es, TFTs, Cardiac markers and an ABG.

That should give you enough to narrow it down to one of acute coronary syndrome, pulmonary embolism, tension pneumothorax, pericarditis or aortic dissection. Go to those pages for management of those.