Chest Pain Health (cont.)

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More Chest Pain Overview

Causes of chest pain that are not immediately life-threatening include the following:

  • Acute pericarditis: This is an inflammation of the pericardium, which is the sac that covers the heart.
  • Mitral valve prolapse: Mitral valve prolapse is an abnormality of one of the heart valves in which the "leaves" of the valve bulge into the upper heart chamber during contraction. When this occurs, a small amount of blood flows backward in the heart. This is believed by some to be a cause of chest pain in certain people, although this has not been proven with certainty.
  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia is an infection of the lung tissue. Chest pain occurs because of inflammation to the lining of the lungs.
  • Disorders of the esophagus: Chest pain from esophageal disorders can be an alarming symptom because it often mimics chest pain from a heart attack.
    • Acid reflux disease (gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD, heartburn) occurs when acidic digestive juices flow backward from the stomach into the esophagus. The resulting heartburn is sometimes experienced as chest pain.
    • Esophagitis is an inflammation of the esophagus.
    • Esophageal spasm is defined as excessive, intensified, or uncoordinated contractions of the smooth muscle of the esophagus.
  • Costochondritis: This is an inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs. Pain is typically located in the mid-chest, with intermittently dull and sharp pain that may be increased with deep breaths, movement, and deep touch.
  • Herpes zoster: Also known as shingles, this is a reactivation of the viral infection that causes chickenpox. With shingles, a rash occurs, usually only on one small part of the body. The pain, often very severe, is usually confined to the area of the rash. The pain may precede the rash by 4-7 days. Risk factors include any condition in which the immune system is compromised, such as advanced age, HIV, or cancer. Herpes zoster is highly contagious to people who have not had chickenpox or have not been vaccinated against chickenpox for the five days before and the five days after the appearance of the rash.

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