A heart surgeon addresses the likely cause of chest and neck pain occurring at the same time.

Sudden chest pain, or gradually worsening and reaching severe proportions, is frightening enough.

But add neck pain to this symptom, and you have a pairing that can potentially mean a heart attack.

It’s one thing if your neck pain, ache or soreness is obviously occurring independent of a sudden onset of chest pain.

That’s entirely possible. Your neck could be sore from a kind you developed overnight.

Nevertheless, sudden severe chest pain still means you need to get checked out right away.

The expert source for this article about the causes of chest pain that is accompanied by neck pain is John A. Elefteriades, MD, William W.L. Glenn Professor of Surgery, and Director, Aortic Institute at Yale-New Haven, New Haven, CT.

Sudden Pain in the Neck and Chest: Heart Trouble Possible

Dr. Elefteriades explains, “Chest and neck pain often accompanies a heart attack or an angina episode.”

Angina is a medical condition in which the heart is shorted of oxygen flow due to narrowed or constricted coronary arteries.

The obstruction in the arteries is caused by plaque buildup, which shrinks the diameter of these blood vessels or may cause a very narrowed section.

Angina may occur only upon physical exertion (and it doesn’t have to be a lot of exertion—may be only minor) and mental stress.

Or, it may occur spontaneously without any of these triggers, in which case it’s termed unstable angina, which can mean a near-future heart attack.

Dr. Elefteriades continues, “Every patient feels the (heart) attack differently. Chest pain is nearly ubiquitous, but only a minority of patients have what we call ‘radiation’ to the neck.”

Chest and neck pain concurrently can also be caused by an esophageal spasm, which is a non-cardiac issue.

Formerly the chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Yale University and Yale New-Haven Hospital, Dr. Elefteriades is working on identifying the genetic mutations responsible for thoracic aortic aneurysms. He is the author of over 400 scientific publications on a wide range of cardiac and thoracic topics.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.