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First Aid for Chest Pain

Last updated Feb. 19, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, Board Certified Cardiologist, explains when chest pains should be taken seriously.


While Chest Pain may represent a condition that is not life-threatening, such as a chest muscle sprain; it can be difficult at times to distinguish that from other potentially life-threatening and fatal conditions, such as a heart attack or pulmonary emboli.

For that reason, all Chest Pain should be evaluated by a trained medical professional, as soon as possible! DO NOT wait! Failure to obtain evaluation as soon as possible may result in serious injury or death. Call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately, if you are experiencing Chest Pain.

What is Chest Pain?

Chest Pain is a feeling of tightness, pain, or discomfort, in the chest or shoulder area. The pain could be due to various reasons, but the most important ones are heart attack and pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs).

What are the Causes of Chest Pain?

Chest Pain causal factors could include:

  • Heart attack
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Angina
  • Pneumonia with pleurisy
  • Chest wall pain (muscle- or bone-related pain)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Chest Pain?

The signs and symptoms of a Chest Pain are related to the cause factor and they may vary. These include:

Cause factor: Heart attack

  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, pressure, or tightness in the chest
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the arms, neck, or shoulders

Cause factor: Pulmonary embolism

  • Pain, while taking deep breaths
  • Coughing-up blood, cough
  • Racing heart (heart beats very fast)
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath

Cause factor: Pneumonia with pleurisy

  • Chest Pain while breathing, coughing
  • Brief pain-relief obtained by holding breath
  • Fever and chills
  • Bloody or yellow green sputum (phlegm) with coughing

Cause factor: Chest wall pain

  • Chest Pain with certain movements, coughing, sneezing, or during deep breathing

How is First Aid administered for Chest Pain?

First Aid tips for a Chest Pain:

In case a Heart Attack is suspected:

  • Call 911
  • Take nitroglycerin, if recommended and prescribed by a physician
  • Take aspirin to reduce blood clotting
  • If the individual is unconscious or is not breathing, start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  • If you are not trained in CPR, just push the affected individual’s chest, hard and fast

For all other conditions:

  • Call 911
  • Immediately seek medical assistance

Who should administer First Aid for Chest Pain?

Anyone in close proximity of the affected individual (or the individual himself/herself) can provide First Aid, but a medical professional maybe required for further treatment.

What is the Prognosis of Chest Pain?

The prognosis varies, depending on the underlying condition causing Chest Pain. It also depends on other factors, such as the individual’s age and general health condition.

How can Chest Pain be Prevented?

Treat underlying conditions early and maintain overall good health. These may help prevent a Chest Pain.

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

Always call 911 in case of a severe Chest Pain.

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 26, 2013
Last updated: Feb. 19, 2018