Dull aches and sharp chest pains could be more than just minor discomfortsThey could be the first, and possibly only warnings you have that heart attack or something equally serious is wrong.  

Chest pains send millions of patients to emergency departments each year. National Center for Health Statistics  part of the famed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – reported there were 6.5 million visits for chest pains and related causes from late December 2016 to late December 2017 – and that only surveyed hospitals. Many patients seek care in freestanding emergency care centers and urgent care centers.  

Always contact a physician about any kind of chest discomfort. But seek emergency help right away for new and unexplained chest pains, as it could be a heart attack. The CDC reports every year about 805,000 people have heart attacks – about 605,000 for the first time. There’s no time to wait; a heart attack results from blocked blood flow, often a blood clot, to the heart muscle.

Also consider heart problems such as: 

  • Aortic dissection – Aortic dissection is a life-threatening condition. When the inner layers of the aorta – the main artery leading from the heart – separate and blood is forced between the layers, the aorta can rupture. 
  • Angina – The discomfort or chest pain is caused by a lack of oxygen-rich blood. Squeezing or pressure happens in the chest, as well as the jaw, neck, arms, shoulders or back. Pain often comes when performing strenuous activities. It may appear to be indigestion, but angina is often a symptom of coronary heart disease, according to the American Heart Association 
  • Pericarditis – Pericarditis is inflammation of the two layers of sac-like tissue around the heart. Pericarditis often shows as sharp pain and worsens when a patient lies down or breathes in. Swelling in the stomach and legs, as well as low blood pressure, are all signs of severe cases. 

There also are lung- and breathing-related causes, including: 

  • Pleurisy, aka pleuritis – Inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest. It causes sharp pains when patients breathe, sneeze or cough. The inflammation is caused by viral or bacterial or infections or a pulmonary embolism. Rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and lupus cause pleurisy. 
  • Pulmonary embolism – This is a blood clot in one of the lungs. The chest pains come on suddenly with patients having difficulty breathing. SecondsCount.org, the informational website hosted by the nonprofit Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventionsreports those at highest risk are people who recently had surgery, blood-clotting disorders, cancer, or who take oral contraceptives. 
  • Pancreas and gallbladder problems – Inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreas or gallstones cause abdominal pain that moves to the chest.  
  • Pneumonia –Pneumonia’s symptoms include cough with phlegm and difficulty breathing.  

A heart attack occurs every 40 seconds in America, according to the CDC. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Do not drive yourself to the medical center. 

Please visit the CDC’s website for more information about the causes and treatment options for chest pains.  

If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of a heart condition it is important to seek medical advice immediately. If you feel your condition is a true emergency, call 911. For all others, PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No appointment is necessary.   

Unlike most ERs or urgent care centers in the area, PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care in Albuquerque, patients are only billed for the level of services they need. The ER and urgent care are open 24 hours a day, every day. No appointment is required for in-person visits.

PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care has four convenient locations:

  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Paseo/San Pedro is located at 6400 Paseo Del Norte Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, and may be reached at 505-596-2100.
  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Coors/Western Trail is located at 4515 Coors Blvd. NW Albuquerque, NM 87120, and may be reached at 505-596-2200.
  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Isleta/Rio Bravo is located at 3436 Isleta Blvd SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105, and may be reached at 505-596-2300.
  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Menaul/Pennsylvania is located at 7400 Menaul Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110, and may be reached at 505-596-2400.