The word cardiac, of course, refers to the heart. When people experience sudden chest pain, their first response is that it could be related to the heart. That is not always the case.
After appropriate testing, only one in four persons with acute chest pain is found to have a cardiac problem. There are a number of other cases for non-cardiac chest pain.
One of the most common causes is Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). It is caused by a weakening in the circular valve muscle at the end of the esophagus (food tube) where it enters the stomach. This allows the stomach’s acid juices to flow up to reflux into the esophagus, creating heartburn a burning sensation felt behind the breastbone, and sometimes in the throat as well.
However, instead of typical heartburn, the symptom may be a recurring aching or pain in the chest. GERD is often triggered by chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods, tight belts or clothing, bending over after eating, or eating just before retiring bed.
A physician usually treats GERD by giving medication to reduce stomach acid. This may also be a good diagnostic test because if the pain goes away, it was likely due to acid reflux.
Upper endoscopies using an instrument called an endoscope are often performed. During this test the physician can examine the lining of the esophagus and look for inflammation and damage to the lining, and for other factors that could be contributing to the symptoms. Only one in four cases of chest pain are related to the heart.
The other causes can include GERD, gallbladder disease, lung conditions, muscle or bone pain, or panic attacks. Each of these can be investigated and treated. Working closely with the physician usually results in a good outcome.