What are the Most Common Causes of Upper Chest Pain?

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  • Written By: Luke Arthur
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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Upper chest pain can be caused by a number of different conditions, such as a heart attack, a hiatal hernia, or pericarditis. It could also be caused by conditions such as a panic attack or broken ribs, or even coronary artery disease. These conditions can be quite serious, so anyone suffering from this kind of pain should see a medical professional.

One of the most common causes of upper chest pain is a heart attack. Heart attacks are one of the most dangerous medical conditions an individual could experience. Generally, this feels like a heavy, painful weight in the upper left chest and left arm. Many individuals who have experienced a heart attack say it feels like an elephant is sitting on their chest. Individuals who believe they are having a heart attack should seek medical attention immediately.

A hiatal hernia can also cause pain in the chest. This is a condition that occurs when the stomach starts to push its way up into the chest. This can be a very painful experience and in order to fix it, the individual will need surgery.

Pericarditis, a condition that results in the swelling of the sac surrounding the heart, can cause chest pain as well. Many times, this can be caused by a virus, and it will go away on its own. Pain relievers or other medication could be prescribed for this condition.


Many individuals also suffer from panic attacks. When this happens, the person could have trouble breathing and experience a great deal of chest pain. Many people who experience panic attacks believe they are going to die or are having a heart attack. The treatment for this condition can vary from seeking counseling to taking prescription drugs.

Upper chest pain can also be caused when the ribs in this area are bruised or broken, usually after a person is hit in the chest by something or falls. When the ribs crack, they have to heal on their own, and this can take several weeks. During the healing process, the broken ribs can cause a great deal of pain.

Many people, especially males over the age of 50, suffer from coronary artery disease, which is caused by plaque buildup inside the arteries over the years. When this occurs, it can lead to chest pain and shortness of breath. This condition is usually treated with lifestyle changes and, in some cases, surgery.


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