Chest pain is assessed based on its characteristics and the background risk of a person. Chest pain is broadly categorised into typical cardiac, atypical cardiac, and non-cardiac pain. Chest pain is also described as to whether it is occurring at rest or only with exertion. Background risk of a person is assessed based on age, gender, presence of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, history of smoking, and family history of premature coronary heart disease. A typical chest pain at rest in a person with high background risk is most likely due to an evolving heart attack or an impending warning for a heart attack. Probability continues to be high even if the pain is atypical for heart pain. Confirmation of a suspected heart attack is done with electrocardiogram (ECG) and/ or cardiac enzymes (troponins, CPK-MB). A second ECG is done within 30 minutes if first ECG is normal. Cardiac enzymes get elevated at least 3 hours after onset of chest pain. Hence, the test should be repeated if it is done in less than 3 hours after the onset.
I experience chest pain sometimes. Does it mean I can get a heart attack?
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