Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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.
  • Aspirin. If doctors suspect that your chest pain is related to your heart, you'll likely be given aspirin.
  • 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.
  • Acid-suppressing medications. 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.
  • Antidepressants. If you are experiencing panic attacks, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants to help control your symptoms. Psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, also might be recommended.

Surgical and other procedures

Procedures to treat some of the most dangerous causes of chest pain include:

  • Balloons and stent placement. 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 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.
Nov. 26, 2014