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Chest pain may be a sign of a life-threatening medical emergency, or it may be an uncomfortable symptom of a minor and temporary ailment. One might feel this symptom anywhere between the neck and the upper abdomen and may feel dull, aching, burning, stabbing, tight, or sharp. People often think chest pain indicates a heart problem, but this is not always the case.

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1. Angina

Angina, caused by reduced blood flow to the heart, is often mistaken for a heart attack. People who experience angina may feel a squeezing or tightness in the chest. The condition most commonly occurs among people with heart disease, and it is considered a warning sign for future cardiovascular events.

Stable angina is the most common type, and it usually occurs in concert with physical exertion or stress. It may be a recurring problem, and often people are aware of what triggers an event.

Unstable angina is a medical emergency; the decreased blood flow can last up to half an hour, even without a trigger. The main difference between angina and heart attack is that angina is a temporary reduction of blood flow to the heart muscles, while a heart attack is a permanent obstruction of blood flow to the heart.

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.