Symptoms A-Z

Sharp Chest Pain Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand sharp chest pain symptoms, including 10 causes & common questions.

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10 Possible Sharp Chest Pain Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced sharp chest pain. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Acid reflux disease (gerd)

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) in infants refers to the passage of stomach contents into the throat causing troublesome symptoms, such as feeding intolerance, inadequate oral intake of calories and/or poor weight gain. Vomiting or visible regurgitation ...

Atypical chest pain

Atypical chest pain describes the situation when someone's chest pain is unlikely to be related to heart or lung disease. There are many other possible causes that could explain chest pain, like sore chest wall muscles or psychological factors like stress and anxiety.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: chest pain, shortness of breath

Symptoms that always occur with atypical chest pain: chest pain

Symptoms that never occur with atypical chest pain: fever

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Chest pain from reduced cardiac blood flow (angina pectoris)

Angina pectoris is chest pain that is felt when heart muscle needs more blood than it is currently getting. This may result from coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: chest pain, chest pain, tight, heavy, squeezing chest pain, moderate chest pain, deep chest pain, behind the breast bone

Symptoms that always occur with chest pain from reduced cardiac blood flow (angina pectoris): chest pain

Symptoms that never occur with chest pain from reduced cardiac blood flow (angina pectoris): productive cough

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Mitral valve prolapse

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) occurs when the valve between the heart's left upper chamber (left atrium) and the left lower chamber (left ventricle) doesn't close properly because the flaps of the valve are "floppy." Most people who have the condition are born with it.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fatigue, anxiety, rib pain, shortness of breath, racing heart beat

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Aortic dissection

An aortic dissection occurs when blood gets between the walls of the aorta. The splitting of the wall can spread and send create dangerous blood clots.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: being severely ill, chest pain, pain below the ribs, sharp chest pain, spontaneous upper back pain

Symptoms that always occur with aortic dissection: being severely ill

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Sharp Chest Pain Symptom Checker

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Chronic costochondritis (chest wall syndrome)

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone. Pain caused by costochondritis may mimic that of a heart attack or other heart conditions.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: rib pain, chest pain, chest pain that is worse when breathing, rib pain when moving, pain when pressing on the chest

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Myocarditis

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, also called the myocardium.

It is a rare complication of any viral, bacterial, parasitic, or fungal infection. Reaction to drugs, medications, chemicals, or even radiation can bring about myocarditis.

Anyone with a weakened immune system or pre-existing heart condition is susceptible.

Symptoms include fatigue, chest pain, and shortness of breath, especially following a viral upper respiratory illness. Swelling of the feet and legs from poor circulation may be seen.

If symptoms are severe, take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1. Myocarditis weakens the heart so that it cannot pump blood as it should. Blood clots, stroke, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia,) and sudden cardiac death can result without treatment.

Diagnosis is made by electrocardiogram (ECG,) chest x-ray, MRI, echocardiogram, and blood tests.

Short-term treatment is with rest and medication, depending on what kind of illness brought about the myocarditis. Sometimes, devices to support the heartbeat may be surgically implanted.

Long-term treatment may involve medicines such as ACE inhibitors, ARBs, beta blockers, and diuretics.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, muscle aches, chest pain

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Heart attack

Most heart attacks happen when a clot in the coronary artery blocks the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Often this leads to an irregular heartbeat - called an arrhythmia - that causes a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: chest pain, shortness of breath, tight, heavy, squeezing chest pain, being severely ill, nausea

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Pericarditis (inflammation surrounding the heart)

Pericarditis is a condition in which the membrane, or sac, around the heart is inflamed. This sac is called the pericardium.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, chest pain, being severely ill, fever, deep chest pain, behind the breast bone

Symptoms that always occur with pericarditis (inflammation surrounding the heart): being severely ill

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Stomach ulcer

A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of the stomach or the first part of your small intestine (the duodenum), which causes pain following meals or on an empty stomach.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, moderate abdominal pain, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps)

Symptoms that never occur with stomach ulcer: pain in the lower left abdomen

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Sharp Chest Pain

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Where is your chest pain exactly?
  • Do you notice your heart beating hard, rapidly, or irregularly (also called palpitations)?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Do your symptoms occur after an emotional time or recent stress?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your sharp chest pain

Sharp Chest Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced sharp chest pain have also experienced:

  • 33% Sharp Rib Pain
  • 6% Rib Pain On One Side
  • 5% Chest Pain

People who have experienced sharp chest pain were most often matched with:

  • 36% Atypical Chest Pain
  • 36% Chest Pain From Reduced Cardiac Blood Flow (Angina Pectoris)
  • 27% Acid Reflux Disease (Gerd)

People who have experienced sharp chest pain had symptoms persist for:

  • 49% Less than a day
  • 23% Less than a week
  • 13% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Sharp Chest Pain Symptom Checker

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Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.