A cardiologist explains the possible causes of chest pain when you lean forward and backward.

“Pain in the chest with leaning forward or backward is a symptom commonly associated with pericarditis,” says Chester M. Hedgepeth, III, MD, PhD, Executive Chief of Cardiology at Care New England.

“Pericarditis is an inflammation of the thin, protective membrane that surrounds the heart, and keeps it in its proper anatomic location. Inflammation of this membrane may cause chest pain.”

Dr. Hedgepeth says that “the inflammation in the lining around the heart could be related to a recent heart attack.

“Heart attacks can lead to an immune response that causes inflammation in the pericardial sac.

“You may hear your doctor refer to this type of post-heart attack pericarditis as Dressler’s syndrome.”

What if you haven’t had a heart attack yet are experiencing chest pain or discomfort (or a dull ache) when you lean forward and backward?

There are many possible non-cardiac causes.

“More commonly, this inflammation [periocarditis] is related to infection (virus, rheumatic fever or tuberculosis), cancers (lung, breast, renal cell cancer, Hodgkin’s disease and lymphoma), immune diseases such as lupus, recent radiation therapy to the chest area, or certain drugs.

“Recent chest wall trauma, musculoskeletal injury and herpes zoster should all be ruled out.”

Dr. Hedgepeth also serves as a physician in the cardiovascular division and arrhythmia service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, plus is an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  



Top image: Shutterstock/Chayatorn Laorattanavech

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