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    What's Causing My Chest Pain?

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    Chest Pain Causes: Heart Problems continued...

    Pericarditis. This is an inflammation or infection of the sac around the heart. It can cause pain similar to that caused by angina. However, it often causes a sharp, steady pain along the upper neck and shoulder muscle. Sometimes it gets worse when you breathe, swallow food, or lie on your back.

    Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This genetic disease causes the heart muscle to grow abnormally thick. Sometimes this leads to problems with blood flow out of the heart. Chest pain and shortness of breath often occur with exercise. Over time, heart failure may occur when the heart muscle becomes very thickened. This makes the heart work harder to pump blood. Along with chest pain, this type of cardiomyopathy may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, and other symptoms.

    Mitral valve prolapse. Mitral valve prolapse is a condition in which a valve in the heart fails to close properly. A variety of symptoms have been associated with mitral valve prolapse, including chest pain, palpitations, and dizziness, although it can also have no symptoms, especially if the prolapse is mild.

    Coronary artery dissection. A variety of factors can cause this rare but deadly condition, which results when a tear develops in the coronary artery. It may cause a sudden severe pain with a tearing or ripping sensation that goes up into the neck, back, or abdomen.

    Chest Pain Causes: Lung Problems

    Problems with the lungs can cause a variety of types of chest pain. These are common causes of chest pain:

    Pleuritis. Also known as pleurisy, this condition is an inflammation or irritation of the lining of the lungs and chest. You likely feel a sharp pain when you breathe, cough, or sneeze. The most common causes of pleuritic chest pain are bacterial or viral infections, pulmonary embolism, and pneumothorax. Other less common causes include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and cancer.

    Pneumonia or lung abscess. These lung infections can cause pleuritic and other types of chest pain, such as a deep chest ache. Pneumonia often comes on suddenly, causing fever, chills, cough, and pus coughed up from the respiratory tract.

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