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Are Stress and Chest Pain Related?

Man experiencing stress chest pain"Chest Pain" Image License: XS courtesy igor

Of all the stress anxiety and depression symptoms, you would likely agree that a chest pain can be the most frightening experience. But, it is heartening to know that such a pain may not always be heart related - and is infact more common occurrence than heart defects or a heart attack.

A recent Swedish research links stress and chest pain; in fact it relates chest pain to sedentary lifestyle, stress, depression and anxiety. A chest pain can be one of the many symptoms of stress.

Stress chest pain usually involves tightening of the chest; and the sensation, unfortunately, is similar to the one typically described for a heart attack. Little wonder that it freaks us out, if we ever had to experience such a thing!

And to make it worse, the thought that it might be heart attack unnerves us even more, stresses us further, increasing the chest pain even more!

why does stress chest pain occur?

Why are stress and chest pain related?

We know that stress is caused when our brain perceives a threat, and releases stress hormones into our blood, in preparation for us to "fight or flee". One of the body's automatic reactions in line with this preparation is tightening of muscles.

And to state it simply - the muscles of our chest are no exception to this occurrence. And the part of the brain that receives pain signals from heart and chest are close to each other, causing us to mistake one for another.

It is somewhat akin to the other common, but much more fatal misunderstanding - of believing a real heart attack to be nothing more than an arm or neck pain.

how to distinguish stress chest pain from heart attack?

There are some indicators.

If you have no obvious risk factors for heart disease - like family history, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol or smoking habits - and you lead a relatively active lifestyle, chances are higher that such a pain is not heart related.

And another thing to remember is, heart related chest pain almost always aggravates with any type of physical activity - sometimes even walking or climbing stairs - whereas the stress chest pain does not.

Of course, these tips come with the caveat that it is always advisable to get any chest pain examined by a professional - especially if it occurs for the first time - and have your doctor rule out heart as the cause of it.

how to treat stress chest pain

Once your doctor doesn't believe your pain has anything to do with heart, he may prescribe antacids and/or anti-inflammatory drugs, and suggest stress relief.

As the Swedish research points out, the relationship between stress and chest pain is usually more prevalent in middle-aged people leading sedentary lifestyle.

So if you lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle, it is a good idea to take a breather from what you are doing every so often, and get out there and get a wee bit of fresh air, or at least a little walk back and forth. This will help prevent the occurrence of such a stress chest pain in the future.

Additionally, you may also try self hypnosis sessions specifically designed to relieve stress and tension in your mind and body, and that can help you avoid such chest pain stress in future. If you are unduly worried or anxious about your health, you can also get control over unnecessary fear and anxiety.

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