Chest Heaviness

by Sam Malone


Heaviness in chest can be a sign of a serious condition. Some people may have heavy feeling in the chest due to gas and indigestion, and others may have it because they are having a heart attack. Therefore, it is impossible to say whether chest heaviness is a symptom of an impending serious health problem or just a passing phenomenon, without considering some of the other symptoms associated with it.

The most serious condition associated with chest heaviness is heart attack. There are many other causes of this heavy feeling. Here are some of them.

  • Panic Attack: This is one of the most common causes of chest heaviness. When a person is experiencing a panic attack or an anxiety attack, they usually have trouble breathing. They feel constriction in their chest, heart palpitations, sweating, and sudden onset of dizziness and stress. The symptoms of a panic attack are very much similar to those of a heart attack, and therefore, these conditions may often be confused with one another. Regulating your breathing with the help of deep breaths can help subside the chest heaviness and help you get back to your normal state of health.
  • Angina: This is a chest pain associated with cardiovascular problems. Angina manifests itself as pain or tightness in the chest. Angina may lead to a heart attack, but it is not always necessary that a heart attack will follow this kind of chest pain and heaviness. Angina itself may be due to high blood pressure, spasms of the esophagus, arterial plaque and inflammation in the chest wall.
  • Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease: Another common cause of pain and tightness in chest, this is a condition that is characterized by gassiness and acidity. It is commonly also referred to as acid reflux. When the valve at the end of the esophagus becomes weak or loose, food and gastric juices from the stomach may flow into the esophagus and into the mouth. However, in GERD most people usually experience acidity along with tightness and heaviness. GERD may be a result of eating too fast or other gastric conditions.
  • Aortic Aneurism: This is a condition in which part of the aortic wall dilates and begins to bulge. This is a weak spot that begins to hurt when blood passes through it. Since this is a primary artery in charge of carrying blood from the heart to the body, the pain and discomfort becomes constant. Often, the pain radiates to the chest and causes a feeling of heaviness. In some cases, the aorta may rupture and cause life threatening bleeding.
  • Asthma: This respiratory condition may cause difficulty in breathing, especially when an allergy is triggered. Due to the allergy, the respiratory system constricts and prevents air from entering the lungs. This can cause chest heaviness and tightness in addition to inability to breathe. If not addressed immediately, this can be a life threatening condition. Allergies, prolonged physical activity, and severe anemia may trigger an asthma attack.
  • Injury: A physical injury to the rib cage can cause chest tightness and soreness in the muscles. Pulled or trapped muscles may also have similar symptoms.
  • Heart Attack: Tightness and constriction are the primary symptoms of a heart attack. In addition to these, there is pain in the center of the chest that may radiate to the arms. You may feel tingling in several parts of your body and may also experience shortness of breath, vomiting, nausea, and an inability to swallow. Some patients may also have a mild heart attack in which they do not know that they have suffered a heart attack, and this fact is only known after a laboratory test.

People may often experience tightness in chest due to depression and other mental disorders as well. The treatment of chest tightness depends on the cause of the condition. Therefore, a diagnosis has to be made before treatment can begin.

References:

  1. http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15650/1/Chest-Heaviness.html
  2. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Heart_attack_explained

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