5 Reasons Why You Should Not Ignore Your Chest Pains

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Dr Teck Kee Ang

September 15th, 2020· 5 min read

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Chest pains can come in a variety of forms, be it sharp, dull, burning, aching, stabbing, or tightness in your chest. As diverse as the types of chest pains present, the many causes of chest pains can indicate one of the various different issues. [1]

Though you might often associate chest pains with heart attacks, there are other causes that may have led to your chest pains such as lung disorders, muscle and bone injuries, or a digestive system condition.

However minor you think your chest pains are, with certain accompanying symptoms, it may warrant a visit to your doctor. Especially so if your chest pains are lasting beyond 5 minutes. This can indicate a possibility of life-threatening issues pertaining to some of your body’s most important organs: your heart or lungs.

Also Read: The Ultimate Guide to Lung Cancer Treatment in Singapore (2020)

The heart is the most important part of your body alongside your brain. Out of all the causes of chest pains, those originating from heart-related issues are potentially the most dangerous.

Heart-related causes can indicate underlying heart problems such as coronary heart disease. If immediate care is not administered, the condition can be fatal.

One of the more common heart-related conditions that cause chest pains is a heart attack.

Heart attack

A heart attack occurs when there is an obstruction of blood flow to the heart which damages our heart muscles. Plaque, which contains fat, cholesterol, and other substances, can accumulate to a point where it causes a vessel to burst. [2] A blood clot then forms around the plaque, blocking blood flow to the heart, and stopping the heart from functioning.

If you are having a heart attack, you may notice symptoms such as [2]:

  • Tightness or pressure in the chest
  • Pain in the arms back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Sweating, nausea, or dizziness

2. Your chest pains may be caused by a lung disorder

Your lungs are a key player in your respiratory system and are responsible for your breathing. Similar to heart-related chest pains, most chest pains caused by lung problems require urgent care or your body may enter a life-threatening state.

Pulmonary Embolism

One of the most severe lung-related causes for chest pain is pulmonary embolism.

Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot occurs in the pulmonary artery- an important blood vessel for your body’s blood circulation.

The blood clot blocks or reduces blood flow in a similar fashion to a heart attack, despite occurring at different locations.

On top of chest pain, you may experience breathing difficulties and an increased heart rate. This may further lead to fever and shock. [1]


Another serious lung-related cause is the collapse of the lung or pneumothorax.

In this case, there is an unintended entry of air into the space between the lungs and ribs.

Chest pains can worsen as you breathe and your blood pressure may drop. [1]

3. Your chest pains may indicate muscle or bone injuries

Just like anywhere else in the body, there are bones and muscles in the chest area. Chest pains arising from muscle or bone issues are usually not as life-threatening as heart-related or lung-related conditions.

However, such chest pains still indicate an internal injury or a chronic condition which you should consult a doctor for.

Damaged ribs

Damaged ribs can cause chest pains. Either a bruised or fractured rib can cause pain that intensifies as you breathe in deeply or when you bend or turn your body. [3]


Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that can cause pain in many body parts. You may experience sharp, intense pain that is localised in the chest area. With movement and deep breaths, the pain intensifies and worsens. [4]

Women in pain

4. Your chest pains may be due to digestive causes

Your digestive tract stretches across your whole body. Digestive issues can likewise lead to chest pains. Most of the time, they are not likely to pose an immediate risk to your life.

However, some underlying conditions may be present and it requires a visit to your physician nonetheless.

Acid reflux

Chest pains that are accompanied by symptoms of burning sensations in the chest or throat and a sour taste in the mouth are signs of acid reflux. [1] This is one of the most common causes of chest pains excluding heart-related conditions.

Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach flows back into your esophagus or the pipe that connects your throat to your stomach.

Gallbladder problems

If your chest pains are concentrated at the lower part of the right chest area near your abdomen, you may have gallbladder problems [5]

The gallbladder is an important part of your digestive system. It stores bile which is needed to digest fat and for the absorption of some vitamins and nutrients.

5. Your chest pains may point to other concerns

Chest pains can come from other sources that may not directly involve your essential organs. They are still a cause for concern and should not be ignored!


For instance, shingles is a viral infection that leads to a painful rash and sometimes sharp chest pains. It is not a life-threatening condition but can cause a great deal of discomfort if left untreated.

Panic attacks

Panic attacks can also cause chest pains. It usually manifests as intermittent bursts of pain due to irregular muscle contractions [6] Frequent panic attacks may indicate the presence of a more serious psychological issue and it should not be taken lightly.

Chest pains are not a laughing matter

As you can see, a specific symptom can be an indication of so many different conditions. Some of which are potentially fatal. Similarly, each condition may have overlapping symptoms with other conditions which makes it hard to narrow it down to one absolute cause. Hence, finding a trusted doctor as soon as possible is crucial to your own health and safety.

To read up more extensively on chest pains, head over to The Ultimate Guide to Chest Pain In Singapore by cardiologist Dr. Ang Teck Kee.

If you have any more questions, do not hesitate to pose them! Get a free answer from our medical specialists at Human!

I hope that you've found this guide useful, and perhaps gained more insight into the application process. Most of the admissions-related information (admin and logistics wise) can be found on the official NUS Faculty of Dentistry website.

To help yourself out, you should take note of what people look for when they look for a dentist.

This article was written by Dr Teck Kee Ang and published on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. Human medically reviewed the article on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. The last update was made on Friday, 18 September 2020.

Disclaimer: Opinions belong to the author and not to the platform.

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