Right-sided chest pain can happen for a variety of reasons. But, most chest discomfort isn’t related to your heart. In fact, chest pain on your right side usually isn’t the result of a heart attack. Your chest is home to some other organs and tissues that may be inflamed or injured, which is causing you to feel pain. Any aches you feel are highly likely due to muscle strain, infection, stress or anxiety, or other conditions unrelated to your heart. Keep reading to learn what may be behind your symptoms and when you should see your healthcare practitioner.
Right-sided chest pain can be caused by a number of different conditions, illnesses, and injuries. Here are some potential causes.
1. Muscle strain
The chest wall is made up of so many different muscles. Naturally, it is very easy to strain these muscles by increased exercise or activity, or from stress or tension. This type of chest pain, though it can be uncomfortable, is easily resolved with rest and pain relievers.
2. Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
This reduction in blood flow through heart blood vessels causes the heart muscle cells to die. Heart attack is usually a severe, crushing pain usually in the center or left side of the chest and is not relieved by rest. Sweating, nausea, shortness of breath, or severe weakness may often accompany the pain.
3. Coronary artery disease
Atherosclerosis happens due to hardening or narrowing of the blood vessels of the heart and is primarily due to the build-up of cholesterol and plaque in the inner walls of these vessels. As this condition progresses, less and less oxygenated blood is able to reach the heart, leading to chest pain or even a heart attack. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States.
4. Anxiety chest pain
Whether you’ve dealt with anxiety most of your life or only have an occasional panic attack, periods of great stress and anxiety can often present in chest pain symptoms. Also, anxiety causes pain and discomfort in the chest as well as a general speeding of the heartbeat. In fact, nearly 25% of patients who report chest pain to their doctors are diagnosed with a panic disorder, which can cause pain in the middle of the chest area. But, this doesn’t mean any chest discomfort should be ignored, as patients with panic disorder and chest pain from stress have higher rates of cardiovascular disease. In fact, if you’ve suffered with panic attacks or an anxiety disorder for many years, your heart could have suffered some trauma or cumulative damage along the way.
When to seek emergency medical attention
Chest pain on the left side is typically associated with a heart attack. If you feel any pain on your right side, it’s most likely not related to your heart. But you should still seek immediate medical attention if you:
- have unexpected severe chest pain
- feel pressure, squeezing, or fullness in your chest
- have severe pain shooting through your arms, back, neck, or stomach
- break out into a cold sweat
- feel weak, dizzy, or nauseous
- have difficulty breathing
Should you worry about right side chest pain?
There are many causes that lead to the development of right sided chest pain. However, most cases are not directly related to your heart. If you feel chest pain on your right side, it is relatively safe to assume that it is not caused by your heart and that another cause is most likely the culprit over time. However, if you are experiencing extreme chest pain, regardless of the location, going to your local emergency room is highly recommended.
The outlook for someone having right-sided chest pain varies depending on the real cause of the discomfort. If pain persists despite treatment, it is extremely important to continue to follow up with the doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.