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Heart Health

Chest pain and vomiting can have a variety of causes, which are different in adults and children. Reasons can include digestive and abdominal issues, such as acid reflux or an ulcer. Sometimes, a heart problem causes the symptoms in adults.

This article will explore the potential causes of chest pain and vomiting. Some of the causes are harmless, while others can be more serious.

Causes

Woman with chest pain who may vomit
GERD is a common cause of chest pain and vomiting.

Common causes of chest pain and vomiting include:

GERD is a disorder of the digestive system that causes symptoms including acid indigestion, heartburn, chest pain, and vomiting. People can usually manage GERD with medication and dietary changes.

Peptic ulcers develop on the lining of the stomach. They can be very painful, and symptoms include vomiting and a burning-type pain in the chest. Treatment includes medication, but sometimes surgery is necessary.

Panic attacks can be frightening, and symptoms can include feelings of tightness and pain in the chest. Stress and anxiety are leading contributors to panic attacks, so finding ways to reduce stress can help alleviate the symptoms.

Making some lifestyle changes can help address anxiety and panic attacks. People should also speak to a doctor about treatment.

Reducing stimulants, such as coffee, as well as introducing meditation and mindfulness may also help alleviate stress.

Anyone who is experiencing chest pain and vomiting should visit a doctor for a diagnosis.

Could it be a heart attack?

businessman with chest pain
Chest pain and shortness of breath are common symptoms of a heart attack.

Sometimes chest pain and nausea can be symptoms of a heart attack.

It is important to know that women and men can present with different symptoms.

Common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • mild chest pain and discomfort that builds up slowly
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • upper body discomfort
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea or vomiting
  • sudden dizziness
  • breaking out into a cold sweat
  • unusual tiredness

According to the American Heart Association, women are more likely than men to experience the following:

  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • pain in the back, shoulders, and jaw

Heart attacks require immediate medical assistance. If someone suspects they are having a heart attack, or are with a person who is experiencing one, they should call the emergency services immediately.

Heart attack diagnosis

A heart attack is when a person experiences a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries. This blockage prevents oxygenated blood and nutrients getting to heart tissue and muscle, which can cause them to die.

A doctor can diagnose a heart attack with an electrocardiogram (EKG test) or coronary angiography. If the tests detect an irregular rhythm, it might indicate a heart problem.

Sometimes, doctors will do a blood test to diagnose a heart attack.

Heart attack treatment

Anyone experiencing these symptoms and suspects a heart attack should call 911 or the local emergency services.

While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the emergency operator may recommend giving crushed aspirin, which can reduce the effect of a heart attack.

Other early treatments might include:

  • aspirin
  • nitroglycerin
  • clot-busting medicines

However, some people might require surgery.

Surgery can include:

  • Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Also known as coronary angioplasty, PCI involves inserting a stent (small metal or plastic tube) into the artery to improve blood flow.
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting. This is when a surgeon removes an artery or vein from another part of the body and uses it to bypass the blocked section of the coronary artery.

Long-term treatment involves adopting healthful lifestyle changes, managing stress, and quitting smoking.

Could it be angina?

painful neck which may be polymyalgia or fibromyalgia
If a person has angina, they may have neck and shoulder pain.

Angina occurs due to plaque buildup in arteries. It is a symptom of underlying heart disease, not a disease on its own.

Angina may feel like a squeezing in the chest or like indigestion. Some people may also experience pain in the following areas:

  • neck
  • shoulders
  • arm
  • jaw
  • back

Angina diagnosis

A doctor will perform a physical exam and take a full medical history. The doctor will ask about:

  • symptoms
  • family history
  • smoking status
  • diet history
  • other risk factors

If the doctor suspects angina, they will recommend tests, such as an EKG, stress testing, a chest X-ray, and blood tests.

Angina treatment

There is a variety of treatment options available. If symptoms are mild, treatment can include making some lifestyle changes and taking medication.

Lifestyle factors include:

  • stopping smoking
  • eating a healthful diet
  • avoiding large meals with rich foods
  • taking regular breaks from exercise if it brings on angina
  • being physically active
  • limiting stressful situations and managing anxiety
  • maintaining a healthful weight
  • taking all medicines the doctors prescribe

If these treatment options do not work, some people may require medical procedures, such as an angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting.

What are the causes in children?

Chest pain and nausea are some of the more common reasons children end up in the hospital.

Unlike adults, however, most cases of chest pain in children are benign.

Causes include:

  • GERD: An over-production of digestive fluids, such as acid and bile, in the stomach causes the fluids to enter the food pipe, which irritates the lining. Treatment includes monitoring of the diet and over-the-counter medications.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders: Pain and tenderness related to the chest wall, muscles, and skeleton should clear up over time. Always attend follow up appointments with the doctor to monitor improvements.
  • Other causes: Children with asthma or who experience anxiety and stress may also develop sudden chest pain and vomiting.

When to see a doctor

Any adult who thinks they may be experiencing a heart attack should go straight to a hospital or call an ambulance.

It is essential not dismiss any symptoms as timing is key to a better outcome.

For children, evidence strongly shows that chest pain and vomiting is unlikely to be a cardiac issue. However, timely treatment is essential.

This information is designed for educational purposes only and should not be used in any other manner. This information is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider. A consultation with your health care professional is the proper method to address your health concerns. You are encouraged to consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Rapid advances in medicine may cause information contained here to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

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