Why Does My Heart Hurt? Common Reasons For Heart or Chest Pain

Feeling like your heart hurts can cause you a lot of worry and stress. The reasons for chest or heart pain are many, and not all causes of pain in your heart area are a sign that you have cardiac pain. For example, your heart can hurt because of indigestion, stress, chest muscle strain, or lung problems. Of course, pain in the heart area could be related to problems with your heart or arteries. Therefore, you should always get squeezing or unexplained chest pains checked out.

 
Many times when your heart hurts, you will have other accompanying symptoms that can help diagnose why your heart feels sore. For example, serious chest aches usually radiate to your left arm, shoulder, or jaw. However, signs of heartburn may also cause an aching heart along with a burning sensation in your upper abdomen. A heart that hurts with jabbing pains when you cough or breathe deeply could mean that you have a lung condition.

In this article, I will help to answer the question why your heart hurts. Even though your heart only hurts sometimes, identifying why your heart is sore can help you seek the best course of treatment. You will also find the answer to the question if it is possible to die from a “broken heart.”

Common Symptoms of Heart Ache

Your heart is located just behind your breastbone and on the left side of your upper chest. So, many aches related to your heart will be felt in your upper left chest. However, heart pain can be caused by organs, muscles, or ribs in your chest.

Dr. Charles Patrick Davis on MedicineNet explains about some types of chest aches and pains that can cause discomfort. These can be:1

  • Squeezing pain in the middle of your chest that radiates to the left arm

  • Jabbing pains in your chest

  • Discomfort around your heart caused by a rapid heartbeat

  • Aching sensation

  • Constant dull pains in your upper chest

  • Random heart aches that come and go

Reasons Why Your Heart Hurts

It’s important to remember that you should never ignore feelings like your heart is aching. Even if the reason why your chest hurts is not serious, you may avoid complications of misdiagnosing serious heart conditions.

Heart Problems and Heart Ache

Of course, your heart will hurt if you have problems with this important organ in your body. Here are some of the most common heart issues that causes chest pain near the heart.

Coronary artery disease (CAD)

Coronary artery disease (or, sometimes called coronary heart disease) restricts blood flow to your heart causing aching pain in the center of your chest. This happens as plaque builds up in your arteries and affects your blood circulation.

According to information published on PubMed Health, the most common symptom of coronary heart disease is chest pain in the heart area. This type of heart pain can feel like squeezing pains in the chest that spread to your arm. Your heart may start to hurt after physical exertion or it may come on suddenly.

Angina is the most common symptom of coronary artery disease. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that other related symptoms of coronary artery disease include:3

  • Burning sensation in your chest that feels like heartburn

  • Heart pain that feels worse after physical activity or stress

  • Shortness of breath

  • Heart attack (in cases of unstable angina)

Angina is a serious cause of chest pain and you should see your doctor if your heart hurts after exercising. It’s also important to take care of your heart’s health by making simple lifestyle changes.

Heart attack

If your aching heart feels like an enormous weight is pressing on the center of your chest, it could be a sign of a heart attack. Heart attack pain can last for a couple of minutes or it could happen randomly over a few days.

According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler, a heart attack feels like squeezing chest pain or a sense of fullness in the heart area. The heart pain can be constant for a few minutes or it can come and go. Very often the pressing chest aches spread to the left arm, back, neck, or jaw.4

Other heart attack symptoms can include:

  • Gasping for breath or difficulty breathing

  • Nausea and feelings of indigestion

  • Discomfort in the upper abdomen

  • Breaking out in cold sweats

If your heart hurts with any of the above symptoms, it’s important to call the emergency services immediately.

Making a few lifestyle changes can greatly reduce your risk of a heart attack. Regular exercise, enjoying a healthy diet, cutting down on saturated fats, and stopping smoking can boost the health of your heart.

Other heart problems that cause aching heart

Other reasons why your heart could be hurting could be due to myocarditis, pericarditis, or aortic dissection.

Myocarditis. The European Heart Journal says that heart pain can be caused by myocarditis. This is inflammation of the heart muscle often caused by a viral infection. Symptoms of myocarditis include sharp jabbing pains in the heart, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and signs of an infection.5

Pericarditis. Doctors say that pericarditis is an inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart. This can cause sharp chest pains that gradually get worse. Sometimes, pericarditis heart pain can become chronic and persistent.6

Aortic dissection. Severe pain in your chest that feels like something is tearing through your chest could be a symptom of aortic dissection. The journal BMC Research Notes, says that a ruptured aortic artery in the chest can be accompanied by pain in the upper back. An aortic dissection can be life-threatening and requires prompt medical treatment.7

Stress-Related Heart Aches

Thankfully, the majority of reasons why your heart hurts are not due to serious emergency conditions. Very often, heart aches can be related to stress.

Stress

Acute or prolonged emotional or psychological stress can have negative impact on your health and cause heart pains.

According to Dr. Varnada Karriem-Norwood on WebMD, stress can affect people in many different ways. However, very often stress causes your heart rate to increase, tightens heart muscles, and raises blood pressure. This can cause aching pains in your heart and tightness in the chest.8

Other ways that stress can affect you physically may include any of the following:

  • Digestive upset, including diarrhea or nausea

  • Frequent headaches

  • Difficulty getting to sleep or disrupted sleep patterns

  • Frequently getting infections like colds

  • Dry mouth

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