Te mamae uma Chest pain

Chest pain is common. If you or a member of your whānau has chest pain, it will likely be caused by something minor. But, chest pain can also be caused by a serious problem like a heart attack. It is important to find out the cause.

Symptoms of chest pain

Chest pain can feel different depending on the cause. It is important to visit a healthcare provider to find out what is causing the pain.

Heart disease such as angina or a heart attack can cause chest pain. This can feel like:

  • heaviness, tightness, pressure, or discomfort in the chest
  • pain in the back, neck, jaw, shoulders, or arms
  • pain that lasts more than a few minutes, goes away and comes back
  • pain that gets worse with activity
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • dizziness or weakness
  • fast heartbeat
  • nausea or vomiting.

If you think you or someone near you is having a heart attack do not wait. Call 111 immediately. 

Heart attack (internal link)

Other types of chest pain

If you have these other symptoms your chest pain is likely not caused from a heart issue:

  • an acidic taste in your mouth
  • food coming back up
  • trouble swallowing
  • pain that gets better or worse when you change body position
  • pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough
  • tenderness when you push on your chest pain for many hours.

When to get help

If you have new or unexplained chest pain or think you are having a heart attack, call 111.

If you cannot get an ambulance or emergency vehicle to come to you, have a neighbour or a friend drive you to the nearest hospital. Drive yourself only if you have no other option.

Causes of chest pain

Chest pain has many possible causes, all of which need medical care.

Chest pain can be caused by:

  • heart issues
  • digestion issues
  • sore or injured muscles or bones around the chest
  • lung issues
  • panic attacks or anxiety
  • shingles.

All of these issues need medical help.

Find out what is causing your chest pain

See your healthcare provider ito find out what is causing your chest pain.

If you are not sure what to do call Healthline for free advice on 0800 611 116.

Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your chest pain to find out the cause. They may ask you:

  • the type of the pain
  • the location of the pain
  • if anything makes it worse or better
  • how the pain started
  • your medical history.

They will check your blood pressure and pulse, and listen to your heart and lungs.

They may order some tests, including:

  • blood tests
  • a chest x-ray
  • heart tests or scans such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check the electrical activity of your heart
  • a gastroscopy — a thin flexible tube with a camera is inserted through your gut or tummy to examine your stomach lining.

Treating chest pain

The treatment for your chest pain depends on the cause.

Find out more about different heart, lung and digestion conditions and how they are diagnosed and treated.