Chest Tightness Or Pressure

What Causes Chest Tightness?

Chest tightness can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose chest tightness, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "chest tightness" as a symptom.  Here are five possibilities:
  • Angina
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Asthma
  • Electrical Hypersensitivity
  • Anxiety

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
being lean or underweight
having asthma
radiating chest pain
frequent rapid, shallow breathing
pain/burning behind breastbone
high air pollution exposure
wheezing after exercise only
blue/bluish fingernails
unsound sleep
difficulty falling asleep
history of angina
minor chest pain
... and more than 40 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of chest tightness:
Cause Probability Status
Electrical Hypersensitivity 97% Confirm
Angina 29% Unlikely
Asthma 4% Ruled out
Anxiety 2% Ruled out
Pulmonary Fibrosis 2% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having chest discomfort, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you experience tightness or pressure in your chest? Do not mention pain here.
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No
→ Rarely
→ Frequently
→ Most of the time
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate absence of chest tightness, occasional chest tightness, regular chest tightness or chest tightness, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Asthma

As the airways become inflamed and filled with mucus, and the smooth muscles in the airways constrict, chest tightness may be experienced as the feeling of not being able to move air in and out of the lungs.  This feeling may in turn increase anxiety, which worsens the feeling of tightness.  These may occur after exposure to a trigger, or a specific irritant, or after exercise.

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