Chest Pain

Most chest pain is not a sign of anything serious but get medical advice just in case. Get immediate medical help if you think you're having a heart attack.

Call 999 if:

  • you get sudden pain or discomfort in your chest that does not go away – the pain can feel like squeezing or pressure inside your chest, burning or indigestion
  • you get pain that spreads to your left or right arm, or your neck, jaw, stomach or back
  • you have chest pain and you feel sweaty, sick, light headed or short of breath

You could be having a heart attack. Call 999 straight away as you need immediate treatment in hospital.

Common causes of chest pain

Chest pain has many different causes. In most cases, chest pain is not caused by a heart problem.

Your symptoms might give you an idea of the cause. Do not self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.

Chest pain and heart problems

The most common heart problems that cause chest pain include:

  • pericarditis – which usually causes a sudden, sharp, stabbing pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or lie down
  • angina or a heart attack – which have similar symptoms but a heart attack is life-threatening

You're more likely to have heart problems if you're older or are at risk of coronary heart disease.

For example, you may be at risk of coronary heart disease if you: