Chest pain

Chest pain
ICD-10 R07
ICD-9 786.5

Chest pain may be a symptom of a number of serious conditions and is generally considered a medical emergency. Even though it may be determined that the pain is non-cardiac in origin, this is often a diagnosis of exclusion made after ruling out more serious causes of the pain.

Contents

Differential diagnosis

Causes of chest pain range from non-serious to serious to life threatening.[1] DiagnosisPro lists more than 440 causes on its website.[2]

Cardiovascular

Pulmonary

GI

Chest wall

Psychological

Others

Diagnostic approach

In the emergency department the typical approach to chest pain involves ruling out the most dangerous causes: heart attack, pulmonary embolism, thoracic aortic dissection, esophageal rupture, tension pneumothorax and cardiac tamponade. By elimination or confirmation the most serious causes, a diagnosis of the origin of the pain may be made. Often, no definite cause will be found and reassurance is then provided.[1]

If acute coronary syndrome ("unstable angina") is suspected, many people are admitted briefly for observation, sequential ECGs, and determination of cardiac enzymes over time. On occasion, further tests on follow up may determine the cause. TIMI score performed at time of admission may help stratify risk.

As in all medicine, a careful medical history and physical examination is essential in separating dangerous from trivial causes of disease, and the management of chest pain may be done on specialised units (termed medical assessment units) to concentrate the investigations. A rapid diagnosis can be life-saving and often has to be made without the help of X-rays or blood tests (e.g. aortic dissection). Occasionally, invisible medical signs will direct the diagnosis towards particular causes, such as Levine's sign in cardiac ischemia. Generally, however, additional tests are required to establish the diagnosis.

A focus on recent health changes, family history (premature atherosclerosis, cholesterol disorders), tobacco smoking, diabetes and other risk factors is useful.

Features of the pain suggest of cardiac ischaemia are describing the pain as heaviness; radiation of the pain to neck, jaw or left arm; sweating; nausea; palpitations; the pain coming upon exertion; dizziness; shortness of breath and a "sense of impending doom."

On the basis of the above, a number of tests may be ordered:

Management

In people with chest pain supplemental oxygen is not needed unless the oxygen saturations are less than 94% or there are signs of respiratory distress.[5][6] Entonox is frequently used by EMS personnel in the prehospital environment.[7] There is however little evidence about its effectiveness.[8][9]

Epidemiology

Chest pain is the presenting symptom in about 12% of emergency department visits in the United States and has a one year mortality of about 5%.[10]

References

  1. ^ a b Woo KM, Schneider JI (November 2009). "High-risk chief complaints I: chest pain--the big three". Emerg. Med. Clin. North Am. 27 (4): 685–712, x. doi:10.1016/j.emc.2009.07.007. PMID 19932401. 
  2. ^ "Differential Diagnosis For Chest Pain: Poisoning (Specific Agent)". http://en.diagnosispro.com/differential_diagnosis-for/poisoning-specific-agent-chest-pain/24567-154-100.html. 
  3. ^ Mallinson, T (2010). "Myocardial Infarction". Focus on First Aid (15): 15. http://www.focusonfirstaid.co.uk/Magazine/issue15/index.aspx. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  4. ^ Hess EP, Perry JJ, Ladouceur P, Wells GA, Stiell IG (March 2010). "Derivation of a clinical decision rule for chest radiography in emergency department patients with chest pain and possible acute coronary syndrome". CJEM 12 (2): 128–34. PMID 20219160. 
  5. ^ "Highlights of the 2010 AHA Guidelines for CPR and ECC". American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@ecc/documents/downloadable/ucm_317350.pdf. 
  6. ^ O'Connor, RE; Brady, W, Brooks, SC, Diercks, D, Egan, J, Ghaemmaghami, C, Menon, V, O'Neil, BJ, Travers, AH, Yannopoulos, D (2010-11-02). "Part 10: acute coronary syndromes: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.". Circulation 122 (18 Suppl 3): S787–817. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.971028. PMID 20956226. 
  7. ^ Castle, N (2003 Feb). "Effective relief of acute coronary syndrome.". Emergency nurse : the journal of the RCN Accident and Emergency Nursing Association 10 (9): 15–9. PMID 12655961. 
  8. ^ "Entonox for the Treatment of Undiagnosed Chest Pain: Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines". Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. http://www.cadth.ca/media/pdf/K0089_Entonox_for_the_Treatment_of_Undiagnosed_Chest_Pain_final.pdf. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  9. ^ O'Connor, RE; Brady, W, Brooks, SC, Diercks, D, Egan, J, Ghaemmaghami, C, Menon, V, O'Neil, BJ, Travers, AH, Yannopoulos, D (2010-11-02). "Part 10: acute coronary syndromes: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.". Circulation 122 (18 Suppl 3): S787–817. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.971028. PMID 20956226. 
  10. ^ Stephen J. Dubner; Steven D. Levitt (2009). SuperFreakonomics: Tales of Altruism, Terrorism, and Poorly Paid Prostitutes. New York: William Morrow. p. 77. ISBN 0-06-088957-8. 

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