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Common Chest Pains You Might Mistake for a Heart Attack

October 01, 2021
Common Chest Pains You Might Mistake for a Heart Attack

One of the telltale signs of a heart attack is chest pain. While a heart attack normally causes severe chest pain, there are many other potential causes of chest pain. However, if you experience significant chest pain, you should seek immediate medical attention. 

If you experience chest pain that is diagnosed as another condition but in reality was a heart attack, you might be entitled to recover compensation if the misdiagnosis was caused by your doctor’s negligence. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can go over your legal rights and options with you if you had a misdiagnosis of your heart attack.

Here are eight conditions that can also cause chest pains similar to those experienced during a heart attack:


Severe heartburn is often mistaken for a heart attack. While you should always call 911 or go to the emergency room if you believe you are suffering a heart attack, if you don’t have any risk factors for a heart attack and believe you are experiencing pain from acid in your throat, you can also try taking an antacid; if the pain goes away, you likely are suffering from heartburn. Limiting your intake of alcohol or spicy or acidic foods and beverages can help reduce the occurrence of heartburn. 


Shingles is also capable of causing significant chest pain. Shingles is a medical condition caused by a resurgence of the chickenpox virus. While the pain caused by shingles is usually accompanied by a rash, in some cases redness on the skin may be minimal. However, chest pain caused by shingles is usually focused on a rib, and occurs on only one side of the body.


Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, can cause abdominal pain that radiates into the chest. Diagnostic imaging and blood work can usually quickly diagnose a case of pancreatitis. 

Panic Attacks

While severe chest pain, tightening of the chest, heart palpitations, lightheadedness or dizziness, and sweaty palms are all symptoms of a heart attack, they are also symptoms of a panic attack, a psychological condition. If you have anxiety, PTSD, or another mental health issue, it can be useful to get your heart health checked to know if you are at risk for a heart attack. If you are at low risk, your doctor can help you with how to deal with a panic attack. Of course, if you are unsure whether you are suffering a heart attack or a panic attack, you should always seek emergency medical treatment.


Costochondritis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone. The condition can cause sharp, severe chest pain, especially when taking a deep breath. One test to determine whether chest pain is being caused by costochondritis or a heart attack is to raise the arms above the head. If that relieves the pain, then the cause is likely costochondritis, as a heart attack causes chest pain regardless of position or motion.

Muscle Aches

Muscle aches or chronic muscle pain caused by conditions such as fibromyalgia can cause chest pain similar to that of a heart attack, including sharp, stabbing, severe pain in the chest and ribcage. 


Respiratory infections and conditions such as pneumonia can also cause chest pain. With pneumonia specifically, the buildup of fluid in the lung tissues can cause pressure that triggers chest pain.

Stomach Ulcers

A stomach ulcer, like pancreatitis, can cause abdominal pain that radiates upward into the chest. A medical exam can diagnose if you are suffering from stomach ulcers, although if you have a history of ulcers, chest pain you experience may be likely related to them.

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Case in Pennsylvania

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh heart attack misdiagnosis attorneys at Berger & Lagnese, LLC  are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout Pennsylvania, including Butler, Cranberry Township, Erie, and Greensburg. Call us today at (412) 471-4300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 310 Grant St., #720, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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