Chest pressure, tightness or discomfort in the chest can be caused by many conditions, and not always associated with a heart condition. However, if pressure in the chest is accompanied by other symptoms like sudden crushing pain, dizziness and shortness of breath, it is indicative of a serious condition, and if persistent should be taken seriously.
Pressure in the chest, even without pain might be a signal of a heart attack, caused by blocking of the blood vessels of the heart. Often people experiencing tightness in the chest often complain of pain in other areas, like the arm, shoulder, back or jaw bone. If you have a family history of angina, this should be reported to the doctor immediate, and seeking medical help immediately could save your life.
Asthma is another condition that causes chest pressure accompanied by difficulty in breathing, coughing and wheezing. This is due to inflammation of the respiratory tract and this condition might be aggravated by strenuous exercise or external triggers like certain allergens and irritants.
Another lung condition called sarciodosis also results in pressure in the chest. This is a rare autoimmune disease which first targets the lungs and lymph nodes and then might spread to other areas. In this case tightening of the chest might be accompanied by symptoms like weakness, dizziness and blood in sputum. There are other lung conditions that might cause tightening in the chest including COPD, bronchitis, pulmonary hypertension etc.
Panic attacks or anxiety disorders are mental conditions that could also lead to a feeling of tightness of the chest. Other symptoms include sweating, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. This could be confused with symptoms of a heart attack but the symptoms related with this condition are low in severity and short in duration. If panic attacks become recurrent they are called panic disorders. This is a severe condition and a reason to seek medical attention.
There might be several other causes for chest pressure or discomfort. One possibility is related to digestive problems like heartburn, indigestion, gastroesophageal reflux, stomach ulcer, gallstones and gallbladder disease. Another possibility maybe a side effect of some medications you take. Even muscular conditions or discomfort related to ribs, tendons, or nerves in that region might manifest as a feeling of pressure in the chest.
Some of the diagnostic test for correct diagnosis include ECG, Exercise ECG, X-ray of the chest, lung scan, cardiac catheterization and some vital blood tests like measuring, CPK, CPK isoenzymes, LDH, LDH isozymes, blood differential and others.