When Should I Visit a Doctor About My Chest Pains?

Posted by The Urgency Room on Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Updated on: Thursday, March 4, 2021
Keywords: chest pain

Chest pains can be a sign of a serious, life-threatening medical condition. If you or a loved one are experiencing severe chest pain, call 911 immediately for medical attention. 

While chest pains aren’t always life-threatening, they are never something you should dismiss. Chest pain can appear in many forms including tightness, dull aches, or a sharp stab. In some cases, pain can travel up the neck, into the jaw, and even back or down both or one arm. There are a variety of problems that cause chest pain, but most life-threatening causes involve the heart or the lungs. 

When to Seek Medical Attention for Your Chest Pains

When does chest pain become serious? This critical question is something many people face – chest pain can stem from a variety of conditions, including severe medical emergencies such as a heart attack. How do you know when to see your doctor or dial 911 for emergent care? 

Depending on what triggers the symptoms, the pain can show up as different sensations. For many people, the cause has nothing to do with your heart. However, without a proper medical evaluation, you can’t know for sure. Let’s take a look at some of the types of medical conditions that cause chest pain, the signs and symptoms of each, and when you should consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis.


Several heart conditions can cause chest pain.

  • Heart attack: results from acutely blocked artery that provides blood flow to your heart muscle.
  • Angina: slowly progressive poor blood flow to the heart. This tends to get worse with exertion.
  • Aortic dissection: a life-threatening condition caused by the aorta rupturing.
  • Pericarditis: inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart.

Signs and symptoms for each of these conditions may vary. However, here are the most common ones:

  • Pressure in your chest
  • Burning or tightness in your chest
  • Crushing or searing pain
  • Pain that lasts more than a few minutes or gets worse with activity
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Chest pain that radiates to the neck, arm or back

If you have any of these symptoms it is important to be seen by a medical professional and evaluated right away. Head to your nearest Urgency Room to be evaluated and treated quickly. If you are experiencing any severe symptoms, please dial 911 for emergency medical treatment.


Chest pain can also be caused by gastrointestinal-related issues and present itself in a variety of ways:

  • Heartburn: painful, burning sensation behind your breastbone or in the upper abdomen.
  • Disorders of the esophagus: difficult or painful swallowing.
  • Gallbladder or pancreas issues: gallstones or inflammation of your gallbladder or pancreas creating abdominal pain radiating to your chest.

Common symptoms of the above issues include:

  • A sour or acidic taste in your mouth
  • Pain that occurs most commonly after you swallow or eat
  • Pain that occurs with laying down, especially after a meal
  • Difficulty swallowing


There are a variety of lung-related conditions that may cause chest pain. The chest pain associated with lung-related conditions may present itself in a variety of ways. 

Common conditions for lung-related chest pain:

  • Pneumonia: an infection in one or both lungs.
  • Viral bronchitis: a viral infection causing lung inflammation, mucus and cough
  • Pulmonary embolism: a blood clot becomes lodged in a lung.
  • Pleurisy: the membrane covering the outer surface of your lungs becomes inflamed.
  • Collapsed lung: air leaks in the space between the lung and the ribs.

Common symptoms of the above issues include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain that worsens when you take a deep breath or cough
  • Sharp pain in the chest
  • Tightness or discomfort in the chest

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is vital to receive the proper diagnosis and begin treatment. 


There are a variety of other medical conditions that may produce chest pain in patients. These types of conditions include:

  • Sore muscles
  • Injured ribs
  • Shingles
  • Panic attacks

Diagnose Your Chest Pain at the Urgency Room

If you or a loved one has been experiencing chest pain, you should consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis. The board-certified emergency room physicians at the Urgency Room are equipped and ready to help evaluate your chest pain and provide you with the proper treatment and care. Our three locations in Eagan, Woodbury, and Vadnais Heights are open 365 days a year for your convenience. 

Don’t wait to diagnose your chest pain; head to The Urgency Room today. If you are experiencing severe chest pain, immediately dial 911 for medical assistance.

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