Treatment will vary, depending on the underlying cause of your chest pain.
Drugs used to treat some of the most common causes of chest pain include:
- Artery relaxers. Nitroglycerin — usually taken as a tablet under the tongue — relaxes heart arteries, so blood can flow more easily through the narrowed spaces. Some blood pressure medicines also relax and widen blood vessels.
- Clot-busting drugs. If you are having a heart attack, you may receive drugs that work to dissolve the clot that is blocking blood from reaching your heart muscle.
- Blood thinners. If you have a clot in an artery feeding your heart or lungs, you'll be given drugs that inhibit blood clotting — to help prevent more clots from forming.
- Antacids. If your chest pain is caused by stomach acid splashing up your esophagus, the doctor may suggest medications that reduce the amount of acid in your stomach.
- Anti-anxiety drugs. If you are experiencing panic attacks, your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs to help control your symptoms.
Surgical and other procedures
Procedures used to treat some of the most dangerous causes of chest pain include:
Dec. 01, 2011
- Balloons and stents. If your chest pain is caused by a blockage in an artery feeding your heart, doctors insert narrow tubing into a large blood vessel in your groin and then thread it up to the blockage. They then deploy a balloon to reopen the artery. In many cases, a small wire mesh tube (stent) is inserted to keep the artery open.
- Bypass surgery. During this procedure, surgeons take a blood vessel from another part of your body and use it to create an alternative route for blood to go around the blocked artery.
- Dissection repair. You may need emergency surgery to repair an aortic dissection — a life-threatening condition that can result in the rupture of the artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body.
- Lung reinflation. If you have a collapsed lung, doctors may insert a tube in your chest, which allows the lung to reinflate.
- Goldman L. Approach to the patient with possible cardiovascular disease. In: Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed Oct. 3, 2011.
- Brown JE, et al. Chest pain. In: Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..X0001-1--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05472-0&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Oct. 3, 2011.
- Meisei JL. Diagnostic approach to chest pain in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Oct. 4, 2011.
- Sabatine MS, et al. Approach to the patient with chest pain. In: Bonow RO, et al. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0398-6..C2009-0-59734-6--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0398-6&about=true&uniqId=236798031-10. Accessed Oct. 4, 2011.
- Meisei JL. Differential diagnostic of chest pain in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Oct. 4, 2011.
- Lee-Chiong L, et al. Evaluation and treatment of chest pain. In: Mason RJ, et al. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/192068760-2/0/1288/0.html. Accessed Oct. 5, 2011.
- Yelland M, et al. An algorithm for the diagnosis and management of chest pain in primary care. Medical Clinics of North America. 2010;94:349.
- What is coronary artery bypass grafting? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cabg. Accessed Oct. 5, 2011.
- Ankel F. Aortic dissection: Management. In: Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..X0001-1--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05472-0&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Oct. 5, 2011.
- Grogan M (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 17, 2011.
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