Why does my chest feel tight? 

Tightness in the chest can be linked to many causes and not all of them are sinister. That said, if you are worried it is always worth checking with a healthcare professional. If your chest feels tight you might be worried that it is linked to  a heart condition of heart attack. It may however be linked to gastrointestinal, psychological or pulmonary issues.

When should I see a doctor when it comes to a tight chest?

Firstly, if you are worried – always see a doctor. Otherwise we would recommend seeking medical advice if you experience any of the following in conjunction:

  • Pressure, burning or tightness in the chest
  • Crushing or searing pain – this can spread to the back, neck, shoulders and down the arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain that varies with intensity and comes and goes, lasting more than a few minutes each time

What other conditions can cause tightness in the chest?

There are several condition which can give rise to chest pain but are unrelated to the heart. These can include:

  • Covid-19 – sometimes the cough associated with Covid and the breathing issues can lead to a tightness in the chest. It is worth seeking medical advice if this is troubling you.
  • Anxiety – anxiety is extremely common and chest tightness or a feeling of something crushing your chest is just one of the many symptoms associated with anxiety.
  • Acid reflux – this can be associated with burning in the chest, the feeling of a lump in the throat and difficulty swallowing.
  • Muscle strain – straining of the intercostal or breathing muscles are a common cause of chest tightness.
  • Asthma – when the airways and lungs become inflamed and constricted it gives the feeling of a tight chest along with coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
  • Stomach ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems

Whilst there are many non-heart related causes there are also heart related causes including:

It is not always clear immediately what the cause of chest tightness is so it is always a good idea to have it investigated to put your mind at ease.

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.