Chest pain is the No. 1 reason people head to the emergency room.

But does this mean that most of the diagnoses for these patients relate to a heart problem?

Believe it or not, most are not related to heart disease. Chest pain has common causes that are not related to the heart.

But to play safe, people with unexplained and persisting chest pain, or chest pain upon exertion, should get a prompt evaluation.

Unfortunately, many people who experience this unnerving symptom don’t bother visiting the ER, figuring that it’s a little indigestion and that “it will pass.”

And often, a heart related problem that causes chest pain will, indeed, pass, tricking the person into thinking it was nothing serious.

Chest pain, aching and soreness have quite a few causes; in fact, even cancer can cause chest pain!

This is why this troubling symptom should always be investigated to rule out serious causes.

“Various risk factors must also be considered when evaluating chest pain,” says Waqar Khan, MD, who’s been providing state-of-the-art cardiology services to the Houston area for over 20 years, and is author of “Be Heart Smart: Understand, Treat, and Prevent Coronary Heart Disease.”

“Risk factors that are associated with coronary heart disease include diabetes, high cholesterol, family history of heart disease, history of smoking and high blood pressure,” continues Dr. Khan.

“A patient with two or more than two of these risk factors would certainly need an EKG and further workup to diagnose coronary heart disease or heart attack.”

Additional Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease

  • Untreated sleep apnea
  • Obesity and even moderate overweight, especially an apple shaped body
  • Diet high in processed food, especially trans fats
  • Excess dietary sodium
  • Poor stress management
  • Sleeping more than nine hours/night
  • Sleeping fewer than six hours/night
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of exercise
  • Sitting too much

Waqar Khan, MD, has a private practice and serves as an affiliate faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX.
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.  


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