Pulmonary troubles: Your chest pain might not be what you think it is!

Pulmonary troubles: Your chest pain might not be what you think it is!

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What’s your worst imagination of sickness? As cliched as it might sound, clutching your chest owing to chest pain, isn’t it?

Made popular by movies, chest pain is the symbol of illness. An emergency room at any given hospital sees a lot of visitors for various reasons, but chest pain is one of the most common reasons for them to visit this place.  Grounds for one to have chest pain depends on a lot of factors and the person. The appropriate treatment which could be provided though depends on the quality, intensity, duration and location of the chest pain in any given patient. At times one may feel a sharp pain, with a stabbing sensation or it can just be a dull ache of some sort. At times the pain just starts as a dull ache, progressing into something intense and utterly painful. Any chest pain could be a severe heart problem, which of course is life-threatening or simply due to many factors which aren’t.

Now, when one refers to chest pain, it’s not unnatural for us to imagine it to be a heart issues. Surprisingly, that might not always be true.

It’s common for people who do not have thorough medical knowledge on chest pain that they fear any sign to be one related to the heart. Well, that’s not always the case. There are several reasons like angina, heart attack, gastro-oesophageal reflux or pulmonary related pains.

Here we solely look into what are the causes of Pulmonary chest pains.

  1. Pleurisy or acute inflammation of pleural spaces.
  2. Acute pleuritic pain is found in parts with spontaneous pneumothorax, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia.
  3. Slow development of chest pain is a characteristic feature of primary or secondary malignancy.
  4. Inflammation of or trauma to joints, muscles, cartilages, and bones of thoracic cage are common causes of chest pain.
  5. Both acute and chronic causes of pulmonary hypertension may be associated with episodes of chest pain that resembles pain of myocardial ischemia.

Now we will discuss briefly about pulmonary arterial hypertension related chest pain.

Better known as Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, a rare form of high blood pressure, PAH occurs in the pulmonary arteries, which flows from the heart, all through the lungs. An overview of the reasons for pains in the chest area in this condition relates to the lack of adequate pumping of blood from the heart, which is prevented due to constricted and narrowed arteries.

Pulmonary Hypertension

Below we look at the causes that lead to the problem.


Pulmonary hypertension could be triggered by a pre-existing disease. In this case, the doctors refer to it as secondary pulmonary hypertension, as this condition, caused due to another problem and not due to the primary symptoms. For instance a lung or left heart disorder. Another way the problem is caused is due to scarring in the small arteries of the lung.

Symptoms of Pulmonary hypertension

In this condition, the symptoms come in two varieties, early and late. The first symptoms include

  • Shortness of breath at even the simplest activities
  • Tremendous fatigue
  • Apparent pain in the chest area
  • Racing heartbeat
  • The upper right side of the abdomen endures pain
  • Decrease in appetite

Late symptoms

  • A feeling of lightheadedness, generally or while doing physical activities.
  • Fainting
  • Ankles or legs experience swelling
  • Lips or skin may turn bluish

Here for simplifying this condition further, different types of pulmonary hypertension are segregated into groups.

Unknown causes 

This type of PH does not have a known cause attached to it. At times, it comes inherited or is caused by toxins or drugs. This group of PH is also caused by conditions related to connective tissue disease, active disease, congenital heart disease, HIV infection, schistosomiasis or sickle cell disease. Other reasons for this group could be through conditions that affect small blood vessels of the lungs or the veins.

Left heart disease

Pulmonary hypertension could be caused by left cardiovascular disease, such as mitral valve disease or to someone suffering from long-term high blood pressure. Left heart disease though remains the most common cause of pulmonary hypertension.

Lung problems

Pulmonary hypertension could be caused by conditions like the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or interstitial lung disease. It could be due to sleep apnea or through other sleep-related breathing disorders, which are all connected to lung problems.

Blood clots

Pulmonary hypertension could be caused due to the presence of blood clots in lungs or through any general clotting disorders.

Other disorders

Apart from the above causes, pulmonary hypertension could be caused by many other diseases. For instance, blood disorders like polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia could be the case. Other problems like systemic diseases such as sarcoidosis and vasculitis; metabolic disorders could also play a vital role here. Metabolic disorders like thyroid and the glycogen storage disease or conditions like kidney disease or tumours that tend to press the pulmonary artery could all affect and cause this condition of pulmonary hypertension.

The long-term effects of pulmonary hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension renders the arteries in the lungs narrower and overall makes them thicker. Thus, the pulmonary arteries of the lungs to experience a slow flow of blood. Thus the pressure in the arteries rises, making the heart to work even harder to help with the flow of blood. All these reasons may lead to heart failure, as the heart becomes weak eventually to pump enough blood to the lungs. Occurs when the heart becomes too weak to pump enough blood to the lungs.

About the Doctor:

Dr. M. Sandhya Swaroopa - Pulmonologist

Dr. M. Sandhya Swaroopa has 6 years of experience in pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine. As a Pulmonologist, her area of expertise include asthma, allergic diseases, COPD, ILD, lung cancer, pleural diseases, tuberculosis, pneumonias, sleep related diseases, ventilator management.

She also specialized in performing interventional procedures in pulmonology such as broncoscopies, tube thoracostomy, pleural biopsies, and thoracoscopy.

About the Hospital: 

Sri Sri Holistic Hospital is a leading 100 bedded Multi Specialty Hospital in Nizampet, Kukatpally, Hyderabad. Sri Sri Holistic Hospital provides high standards of healthcare with a combination of Advanced Technology and state of art clinical expertise. With more than 52 Internationally Experienced Doctorsand 400+ staff, we served at least 50,000 patients so far.