Chest pain is a frightening symptom because it is so closely associated with heart attack; however most chest pain people experience is not from a heart attack, but due to other causes such as injury to the ribs, tendons, or muscles in the chest wall, or from the esophagus or stomach, often caused by acid indigestion.
Warning signs that chest pain may be more than just indigestion include: pain lasting more than a few minutes; pain associated with shortness of breath or dizziness; pain that comes on with exertion and is relieved by rest; pain or pressure that radiates to the neck, shoulder, or back; or chest pain occurring in someone who has a history of heart disease, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease. Chest pain with these features or any chest pain that does not resolve on its own in several minutes should be checked out by a health professional.
Although chest pain is not more common among people who have recently quit smoking, it is true that among current or former smokers most chest pain should be taken seriously since people who smoke are at greater risk of heart disease, heart attack, and sudden death due to a cardiac event. Stopping smoking can rapidly reduce the risk for heart attack, with the risk going down by one-half in the first year, and down to no increased risk level after 3 years of stopping smoking.
Making a plan to stop smoking and sticking with it is the best way to a healthier heart. Use BecomeAnEX.org Cardiovascular Disease information and other resources to support you.