Where is your heart located and how does a heart pain and chest pain differ?

Where is your heart located and how does a heart pain and chest pain differ?

Chest pain which feels near to heart always horrifies people for the possible chances of heart pain. Many people aren’t sure about the accurate position of the heart. It leads to confusion which becomes problematic regarding if the chest pain is heart pain or not.

The basic biology explains the position and structure of the heart. But many of us are not sure about the accurate dimensions. Regardless of the reason, when a chest pain hits you, the first thing to strike your mind is nothing but a heart attack.

Surprisingly, the reasons to feel pain in the chest can be so many. From muscle pull to anxiety, the reason can be physical, psychological or both. Almost more than half of these ideas are not life-threatening, but confusion can cause mental distress.

The exact location of your heart

The human heart is accurately situated on the left side of your chest. Its size is approximately the size of your fist when closed. The position of the heart is between the left and right lungs. It is behind the breastbone and slightly towards left inclination.

If you place your right palm in the central part of your chest, moving only a little bit to the left is the exact position where your heart lives. Remember that the spine is behind it and the lungs are on the sides of the heart. This information suggests a heart to be protected inside many organs which are the protection cover for the heart naturally.

Is chest pain a heart pain?

A sudden pressure or pain at the exact position of the heart is called the heart pain. The other areas which hurt on the chest are not all heart pains. Sometimes even the pain on the position of the heart also doesn’t mean that it’s a heart attack.

On the other side, the pain of heart attack may not necessarily be in the position of the heart. So location is not the best standard to estimate the heart attack.

Different types of chest pains explained

The information above shows that any pain cannot be determined by location only. Now that a reader knows this, the next question which may arise in his mind is so what types of pain can hit on the chest. Here is the answer to it.

  1. Heart attack

The first and most dangerous pain of chest is a heart attack. The heart attack feels like a tightness and squeezing pain which compresses the heart. It can last for a few seconds to minutes. The basic symptoms to observe are as follows.

  • A sharp stomach pain.
  • An intense feeling of heartburn.
  • Pain which spreads to the other parts i.e. arms, shoulders, neck, etc.
  • Feeling a shortness of breath
  • A feeling of light headiness
  • Intense nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Stress and anxiety

In the case of a heart attack, the patient needs medical care as soon as possible. In case you experience such a pain, rush to your nearest hospital.

  1. Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease is a dysfunction of the particular blood artery of the body. It is called coronary artery which supplies oxygen and blood to the heart. When this artery is damaged due to any factor, the result is a disease named coronary artery disease.

It may take years for developing it. It may go unnoticed unless a major health concern like heart attack hits you. The visible signs and symptoms of it include the following.

  • Angina-like pain
  • Heart attack as a result
  • Feeling shortness of breath
  • Radiating pain

There are many reasons to cause coronary artery disease. For example, high cholesterol is one of the major factors to contribute. Other things which may influence it are smoking, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol, and diabetes.

  1. Pain of Angina

Another reason for heart pain is angina. It is caused by low blood flow which tightens the core muscles. Angina pain can be an early symptom of a chronic coronary artery disease. It feels same like a heart attack but less intense.

In the case of an angina attack, go to your nearest doctor. The visible signs of angina are as follows.

  • A distressful feeling
  • Pain in chest
  • Radiating pain to arms, shoulders, and face.
  • Feeling extreme nausea
  • Having a dizzy head
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive sweating

Angina pain is not ignorable. One should seek medical help immediately once this type of pain hits him.

  1. Myocarditis pain

Myocarditis is a particular kind of pain which is the swelling of the myocardium. The myocardium is the outer muscle of the heart. It is mainly due to viral infection. This virus when attacks the body, the body produces disease-fighting cells which make the immune system.

If the viral cells make it to the heart muscles, the chances are more likely to get an infection. It is usually asymptomatic, but they may show up at later stages. Some of the most common symptoms are written below.

  • A sharp shooting pain which feels like stabbing.
  • Spreading pain which radiates to shoulders and back of the head.
  • The feeling of mild to moderate fever
  • A headache
  • A sense of a sore throat
  • An upset stomach which usually results in diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation of joints
  • Inflammation of veins
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Faint

  1. Pericarditis

Pericarditis means the infection of the pericardium. The pericardium is the layer which surrounds the heart. It is not a disease itself but an outcome of an initial infection.

These conditions include heart attack, radiating pains, tumor, cancer, trauma, autoimmune disease, and heart surgery, etc. The disease symptoms are as follows.

  • A radiating chest pain
  • Mild to moderate pain
  • An irregular heart rate
  1. Mitral prolapsed

Mitral is the name given to heart valve which controls the blood flow from left atrium to left ventricle. It is muscular, and with each heartbeat, it compresses. An irregular functioning of this valve may result in chest pain. The symptoms include following.

  • Increase in heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Faint
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Inflammation of hands and feet
  • Swelling in legs
  • Tingling sensations in hands, legs, and feet.
  1. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

This is a particular condition in which muscles of the heart thickens. It results in irregular function of the heart which is mainly caused by stiffening of the heart walls. It causes a hindrance in blood flow and pressure.

The hypertonic term defines the movement of blood. The visible symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are as following.

  • A sharp pain in the chest
  • Feeling shortness of the breath
  • Stress
  • Fatigue and anxiety
  • Palpitations
  • Faint

Chest pains that are not related to heart problems

Some types of pain are not linked to the heart. They may confuse a person for their origin and cause, but in reality, they are dying to other irregularities in health. The difference between cardiac and noncardiac chest pains are as following.

Chest pain with relevance to heart

Some common things which can help to determine the chest pain is caused by dysfunction of the heart are as below.

  • Cardiac pains usually start in the morning.
  • They feel like squeezed pains.
  • Sometimes there is burning, deep pain.
  • It feels like a pressure or compression at the place of the heart.
  • This type of pain may radiate to arms, neck or jaw.
  • It may increase with a movement of upper body parts like shoulders and arms.
  • It may increase after a heavy meal.
  • In such condition, seek medical help as soon as possible.

Chest pain which is irrelevant to heart

The particular types of chest pain which are not related to the heart are as follows.

  • Such pains start in evening or night and rarely hit in the morning.
  • It feels like sharp pain which can be easily located for the place.
  • It is not radiating.
  • It may start from heartburn.
  • It feels more after eating a full meal.
  • It may come and go in minutes.
  • There is less likely to constantly feel it for days.
  • A physical exertion may alleviate it.

Reasons for noncardiac pains

The chest pains which are due to not heart problems can be for various other reasons. Some of which are;

  1. Infection of lungs; Pleurisy, Asthma, Pneumonia, Cough, Pulmonary hypertension, Pneumothorax, Pulmonary embolism, and others.
  2. Gastrointestinal diseases; Gastroesophageal reflux disease, Pancreatitis, Hiatal hernia,  Peptic ulcers, Gallbladder problems, Esophageal rupture or perforation, and others.
  3. Nerve or Muscular problems; Muscle Strain
  4. Viral infections; Shingles
  5. Accidental injuries

Don’t take chances with pain

Pain may look like a minor problem which can help anyone in routine. In reality, pain is an indication which our body uses to tell that there is something wrong. In the case of the chest, it can be riskier since all vital organs reside inside the chest.

Most of the chest pains are not related to the heart. There is only a less number of chest pains which are actually due to the heart. Constant pain in the chest can be an indication of a serious problem which cannot go unnoticed.

If you are in the middle or old age, the chest pain is of more serious nature, and you should never ignore it. Get a consultation with your physician if any chest pain hits you more than twice.

Also, keep a record of your medical history and tell the details to the doctor for the accurate diagnosis. If the underlying problem is related to the heart, an early diagnosis saves the health.




The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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