Chest pain is one of the most common reasons people visit the emergency room. It may vary depending on the intensity and duration. Chest pain also varies depending on the person since the pain can be caused by a range of complications.
Some people might experience dizziness, lightheadedness, stabbing or burning sensations, squeezing sensation, tightness, fatigue, a sharp, or a dull ache in the chest, arms or neck as symptoms.
Daniel Gahungu, a general practitioner at Polyclinique de I’Etoile in Kigali, says most often, people associate chest pain to a heart disease.
This, he says, in most cases is found untrue after diagnosis. Gahungu adds that a big percentage of such patients who come to hospital are diagnosed with ulcers instead.
“When one is suffering from ulcers, there is a lot of acid that is created in the stomach, hence causing a pain that is often experienced at the left hand side of the chest. But as one feels that pain in their chest, the heart is also forced to beat at a faster rate, making most people to think they have a heart problem,” he explains.
The medic says ulcers are the most common cause of chest pain although there are other causes such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and lung diseases.
He adds that in cases of fractures of the ribs or damage of nerves between the ribs which could be as a result of HIV/AIDs or diabetes, one may experience a chest pain.
Gahungu explains that with excess fluid seeped out of the blood vessels in the lung instead of air, also known as pulmonary edema, one may experience chest pain since this condition is resulting from breathing difficulty and poor oxygenation of blood.
“Peripheral neuropathy or damage to the nerves to your heart may also lead to chest pains with angina being one of the signs in this case,” he says.
Although chest pain is related often to being a sign of a serious cardiovascular disease, it may also occur due to other cases like being overweight or obese, according to Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Centre in Remera, Kigali.
Kamanzi says as one’s muscles increase weight on the bones and the ribs, the pressure exerted on these bones causes one to have difficulty in breathing.
This, he says, will in the long run lead to dis-arrangement of bones, which results to one suffering from chest pain.
“Signs and symptoms of chest pain may differ in people depending on the cause as there are a number of causes such as gastrointestinal and lung-related problems,” he adds.
Kamanzi also adds that other minor cases like improper seating and sleeping posture and anxiety may lead to chest pain.
According to medics, chest pain can also be a symptom of a life-threatening condition. Gahungu recommends that once you experience a chest pain, it is advisable to seek immediate medical attention since this could save your life.
He also says that the only way to treat chest pain is through diagnosis to establish the cause so that the patient is given medication for the specific cause.
Kamanzi notes that to avoid suffering from chest pains, one should be keen to what they eat or their nutrition. Giving an example of cardiovascular diseases as a cause, he advises that people should stay away from saturated fatty acids.
This, he says, means staying away from animal fats such as butter, red meat as well as refined fats or oils.
“Minding one’s nutrition will help prevent heart-related diseases. Limiting alcohol consumption and tobacco use will also save you from chest pains,” he notes.
Kamanzi says fast foods, sugars and other less-dense nutrient foods which include chapatti, chips, chocolates, white bread and biscuits should be avoided. He says these foods are the leading causes of obesity which is one of the causes of chest pain.