Are chest pain and palpitations related?

chest pain and palpitations


Chest pain and palpitations are much related to one - another. Although they can be perceived in various non-threatening diseases and conditions, as follows:

 a. Palpitations - in increased intake of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, during pregnancy, when stressed and anxious, vigorous physical activity etc.

b. Chest pain - esophageal causes (gastro- esophageal reflux), gallbladder and pancreas problems that cause pain which irradiates in the chest, in lung - related problems (such as pleurisy), during panic attacks, chest - muscle aches, costochondritis etc.

But, when experienced simultaneously, chest pain and palpitations are, most probably, symptoms of life-threatening diseases like the following:

Heart problems like:


a.      Coronary heart disease - also called angina. It is caused by the blockage of the flow in the blood vessels providing the heart with blood. This is due to the buildup of the thick plaques in their inner walls.

b.      Myocardial infarction - also called a heart attack. The severe block in the heart blood vessels by the plaques or spasms causes the death of the heart muscle cells, causing the heart attack.

c.       Myocarditis - it is the inflammation of the heart tissue, caused mostly by viruses

d.      Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - due to a genetic disorder, the heart muscle grows abnormally thick and thus seriously compromising both heart contractions and outflow.

e.       Mitral valve prolapsed - it is a condition in which the mitral valve fails to close completely, due to abnormal changes taking place in its ring, muscle, and papers.


ii.      Lung problems

a.      Pneumonia - the inflammation of the lung tissue.

b.      Pulmonary embolism - is the blockage of lung blood vessels from traveling blood clots.


With what mechanism palpitations are causing chest pain?

Heart palpitations and chest pain are of the most common symptoms of heart and lung problems.

The mechanism that relates both these symptoms varies from the disease causing them.

a.                 In the Coronary heart disease and heart attack, they are due to the lack of blood supply to heart tissue.

The build-up of the plaques in the inner walls of the coronary arteries narrows their inner space, causing a thus decrease of heart blood flow.

The lack of blood and oxygen interferes with cell metabolism by increasing thus the amount of lactic acid. This causes chest pain.

Also, the lack of oxygen triggers the heart to beat faster and harder in an attempt to overcome these situations. This is perceived as palpitations.

b.      In myocarditis chest pain and palpitations are due to the inflammation of the heart tissue. The inflammation affects heart conduction system leading thus to occasional arrhythmias, which are perceived as palpitations.

c.       In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, chest pain and heart palpitations are due to the abnormal growth of the heart muscles.

The heart outflow may be significantly decreased, and the coronary artery does not get enough blood to properly supply the heart tissue.

The lack of blood and oxygen causes chest pain and palpitations the same way as if they were blocked by plaques.

d.      Mitral valve prolapse causes atrial fibrillation and decrease of the heart outflow. Atrial fibrillation is perceived by the patient as palpitations and the decrease of the blood outflow causes decrease of the heart blood supply, leading to chest pain.

e.       Pneumonia - Is the inflammation of the lung tissue. The inflammation causes chest pain while palpitations are as a result of   increased heart outflow due to whether increased body temperature or as a compensatory mechanism to overcame the lack of oxygenation from the affected lung tissue.

f.       Pulmonary embolism - both chest pain and palpitations are as a result of the sudden overload of the right heart chamber due to the spasm of lung blood vessels.

What about the treatment?

The treatment of chest pain or heart palpitations is treating the underlying disease causing them.

If having this both symptoms, seeing a doctor is necessary, because they can be caused by a life-threatening disease.

Resting, stress-reducing therapies (yoga, aromatherapy etc), treating other conditions that might trigger chest pain and heart attack( flu, fever, anemia etc), a physical activity as your doctor suggests you (based on your state) are an additional therapy to the drug treatment your doctor might prescribe you.

There are specific guidelines to treat every disease described above. Your doctor will decide which the best treatment is even taking into consideration your general health.


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