Chest pain on left side is often taken as a sign of heart attack. Angina is another crucial type of chest pain that is caused by excessive physical exertion or stress. It is particularly considered as a warning sign when it occurs during rest. Nonetheless, pain in left side of chest could also indicate minor issues like acidity and heartburn.
Heart Attack: Let us first discuss left sided chest pain as a sign of heart attack. It usually arises in the mid to left side of the chest and may extend to the left shoulder, the left arm, the jaw, the stomach, or the back.
The condition is often accompanied by other symptoms like breathlessness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, abdominal discomfort, excessive sweating etc. Cardiac pain generally involves the center of the chest or upper abdomen.
Angina: Angina is another serious form of left side chest pain that is considered as a primary symptom of Coronary Artery Disease. It is typically described as a choking pain or a feeling of constriction, pressure and tightness in the chest on the left side or behind the breastbone.
The pain tends to radiate to the lower jaw, neck, shoulder, back, arm, or hand but generally subsides within a few minutes. It is also accompanied by vague abdominal discomfort, increased heart rate and blood pressure and often a burning sensation in throat.
The best course of action to be taken during this condition is to take rest as it indicates that the heart needs more oxygen. Variant Angina, a type of Angina is a rare form of Angina pain that occurs during rest and increases the risk of heart attack. It is mostly caused because of Coronary Spasms and should not be ignored at all.
Ischemia related chest pain on left side induced by inadequate blood supply generally remains the same irrespective of body position. More often than not, chest pains on left side that have been constant for days or weeks are generally not associated with Heart Attack or Angina.
Besides, individuals often confuse sharp chest pain on left side above breast with Heart Attack related chest pain. However, in most of the cases, Heart Attacks are not characterized by localized chest pain. In addition, a condition called Premature Beats can also cause chest pain on left hand side during rest. The pain tends to reduce after physical activity.
Apart from these two scary conditions, left chest pain, in general can be caused due to problems associated chest wall, lungs, esophagus, muscles, ribs, tendons, or nerves. Some such conditions associated with chest pain, especially on the left side of the chest are:
Costochondritis: Costochondritis is often described as a sharp pain in left side of chest associated with Fibromyalgia. It is characterized by inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone. It causes severe chest pain on either side of the sternum (costochondral joints), near the third to fifth ribs.
The pain tends to increase on taking a deep breath or on coughing. At times, it may also cause dull pain in left side of chest. Tietze’s syndrome is another similar condition causing superficial rather deep chest pain on the left side.
Abdominal Problems: Issues like Gallbladder Disorders, Peptic Ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Pancreatitis and other such gastrointestinal problems. Acute Gallbladder Attack, for instance are associated with lower left chest pain.
Chronic Gallbladder Disorders can cause recurring lower chest pain or upper abdominal chest pain. In case of Pancreatitis, chest pain tends to ease to some extent by leaning forward.
Most of these abdominal causes of chest pain because of factors related to food ingestion or inflammation in any part of the gastrointestinal tract.
Esophagus Problems: Besides, certain conditions like Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Esophagitis, Esophageal Spasm etc caused by factors associated with the esophagus may also cause chest pain on the left hand side.
GERD, in particular, may cause chest cramps on left side of the chest. Such chest pains are often mistaken for cardiac ischemia.
Problems associated with lungs: Pneumonia, Pleuritis, Pulmonary Embolism, Pulmonary Hypertension, Collapsed Lung and other such problems usually lead to chest pain on left side or right side of the chest. The pain tends to become worse with breathing.
Other issues like Herniated Disc, Arthritis in the neck, thyroid diseases, Anemia, abnormal fluid retention, excessive alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, exercising immediately after having a meal or intake of certain medications can also give rise to general chest pain or specific chest pain on left side.