What causes chest pain?

Chest pain is a common symptom that can have a variety of causes. The MediFind Medical Team has summarized 10 potential causes of chest pain below in order from most likely to less likely based on our data. Learn more about how MediFind works here. You can also enter your symptoms into MediFind’s Symptom Checker to receive more customized results.


Angina is a type of chest pain that is a result of poor blood flow through the heart. Angina may also result in a feeling of tightness or squeezing in the chest, or pain that spreads through the upper body. Angina is treated by a cardiologist. Find a cardiologist near you here.


Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, the membrane that surrounds the heart. Pericarditis is typically thought to be caused by viral or bacterial infections, however it can also be seen commonly with conditions such as cancers, HIV infection, kidney failure, and tuberculosis. Pericarditis is treated by a cardiologist. Find a cardiologist near you here.

Heart Attack

In a heart attack, blood flow going to the heart is blocked. As a result, the heart can not get oxygen and cells in the heart are damaged. Symptoms of a heart attack may include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and pain or tightness in the chest. If you believe you are having a heart attack, seek medical help immediately.

Aortic Dissection

Aortic dissection refers to a tear in the aorta, the major blood vessel going out of the heart. Depending on the size of the tear, blood can flow between the layers of the blood vessel wall, possibly causing reduced blood flow to other organs. If you experience severe chest pain, seek medical help immediately. Depending on the severity of the condition, it is typically treated by a thoracic surgeon. Find a thoracic surgeon near you here.


Heartburn involves a burning or painful feeling in the chest, typically caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus and causing irritation. Most people experience heartburn at some point, but recurring cases of heartburn may indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn is usually treated by a gastroenterologist. Find a gastroenterologist near you here.


Gallstones are a type of hard deposit that can form in the gallbladder. Although many people with gallstones have no symptoms, if a gallstone is large enough to block the tube that drains the gallbladder, some people may experience pain in the abdomen and chest. Gallstones are usually treated by a gastroenterologist. Find a gastroenterologist near you here.


In cases of costochondritis, the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone becomes inflamed. Costochondritis may be a result of an infection, a chest injury, or possibly the effect of another condition like arthritis. The most common symptom of costochondritis is chest pain. Costochondritis is usually treated by a primary care doctor. Find a primary care doctor near you here.


Pleurisy is inflammation of the lungs. Pleurisy can be caused by an viral infection, or a condition such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. For individuals with pleurisy, deep breathing or coughing may result in chest pain. Pleurisy is usually treated by a pulmonologist. Find a pulmonologist near you here.

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that primary affects the lungs and the right side of the heart. There are a variety of causes for pulmonary hypertension, including genetic or autoimmune conditions, heart failure, lung disease, or certain medications. Pulmonary hypertension can causes increased chest pressure or pain. Pulmonary hypertension is usually treated by a cardiologist. Find a cardiologist near you here.

Pulmonary Embolism

In cases of pulmonary embolism, an artery in the lungs is blocked, usually by a blood clot. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism may include increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and a sharp or stabbing chest pain. Pulmonary embolism is usually treated by a cardiologist. Find a cardiologist near you here.

Understanding the Results

These results are based on the most likely conditions for a 45 year old woman who is not pregnant, and is living in the United States. Our data shows that 96% of the time, this symptom is related to one of the 10 most likely causes. Location and age can also contribute to different results. Use our Symptom Checker to add your information and get your custom results.

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Differences in Age Groups

Chest pain can occur at all ages, however it is more common in older individuals. Elderly individuals are particularly more likely to experience conditions that affect blood flow and heart or lung function, leading to chest pain.

Differences among Men and Women

The majority of conditions that would cause chest pain affect men and women relatively equally. However, a few heart conditions that commonly cause chest pain such as pericarditis or aortic dissection are more common in men than women.

Last Updated: December 08, 2022

Published By: MediFind Medical Staff