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First aid: Chest pain

Learn first aid for chest pain.
Knowing first aid for chest pain is a must.

Chest pain can scare a person, but there are several reasons for getting chest pain, and not all of them mean a heart attack. Sometimes it may have minor causes like indigestion or stress. But nowadays, a sedentary lifestyle and eating habits increase the risk factors of a heart attack. Another reason for emergency chest pain is pulmonary embolism. Do not waste precious time trying to self-diagnose it. If the pain doesn’t go away, it sure is a sign to worry, and it would be good advice to seek a doctor’s help. Knowing about first aid for chest pain is also helpful until medical help arrives.


It is best not to ignore any chest pain. It may appear benign, which people may overlook, but it can be life-threatening. They can manifest as:

  • Chronic
  • Recurrent
  • acute symptoms

Alarming Signs

It is best not to ignore any chest pain. It may appear benign, which people may overlook, but it can be life-threatening. They can manifest as:

  • Chronic
  • Recurrent
  • acute symptoms

Heart Attack

It is the most typical emergency causing chest pain. A heart attack happens because of the stoppage of blood supply to the heart muscle due to a blocked artery. As a result, chest pain may persist for a few minutes or longer. There may be no symptoms in an asymptomatic heart attack.

Some people may have warning signs hours to weeks in advance before they experience a heart attack. In the earliest form of heart attack, pain may occur only on exertion and disappear on rest(angina).

Along with the chest pain, you may also experience any or all of the following symptoms:

  • A Sensation of firm pressure, tightness, or squeezing in the center of your chest.
  • Pain may also travel  to the neck, arms,  back, shoulders, or jaw
  • Cold sweating, perspiration, nausea, and dizziness
  • Shortness of breath and or a sense of anxiety.

All these symptoms may or may not pose together and can vary from person to person. Some people may have just one or two symptoms or even all of them. It wouldn’t be justified to wait for all the signs to manifest before you go to the doctor. A medical practitioner assesses the situation and notifies the patient of the cause of the chest pain. The person need not jump to conclusions. As said before, all chest pains don’t mean you have a heart attack, though possibilities are there, and they can be ruled out.

First aid for Heart Attack

If you or anybody suffers from a Heart attack:

  • Call 911 or emergency medical help. Try to relax. It may decrease the heart’s oxygen demand. The priority should be to go to the hospital as soon as possible but drive yourself only if no other option is available.  
  • Nitroglycerin helps dilate blood vessels instantly. If you feel you have an attack and have already been prescribed this medication, you may take it.
  • Chew an aspirin tablet. It will help relieve the blockage, and aspirin also helps to reduce permanent damage from a heart attack. Do not have it if you are allergic to it or your doctors have said so.
  • CPR. It may be started on an unconscious person if you feel he has stopped breathing.
Call 911 or emergency medical help in case of heart attack.
Call 911 or emergency medical help.

Diagnosis of chest pain

You have to understand how the chest pain follows a pattern

  • When there is a specific body movement
  • Momentary or fleeting pain
  • Having a past pain similar to the one you are experiencing now (related to the heart)

Doctors may have to do some tests to interpret how chest pain would have occurred. Chest pain can be for

  • Indigestion
  • Stress
  • Acid reflux
  • Injury
  • Lung issues
  • Bad cough
  • Heartburn
  • Others

If it happens to be a heart attack, the person may get warning symptoms days, weeks, and hours in advance. Chest pain would be one of the earliest signs of warning, which may go away after resting. A heart attack may show as just chest pain or accompanied by other symptoms.

Treatment and medications

The common medications that are given for chest pain are categorized into

  • Artery relaxers
  • Aspirin
  • Thrombolytic drug
  • Blood thinners
  • Acid suppressing medications
  • Antidepressants

How do they work?

  • If the person has a heart attack, an artery relaxer such as nitroglycerin will help relax the heart’s arteries when the tablet is placed under the tongue. The medication helps the blood flow more quickly and widen the blood vessels.
  • Aspirin is a conventional medication used to relieve pain. Keeping it under the tongue of the patient can also help reduce the pain until the person can be taken to a medical practitioner for further investigation.
  • There are thrombolytic drugs, which are the first aid drugs that a doctor may give when you are experiencing a heart attack. They help the clot-busting medication and dissolve the clot, blocking the blood from reaching your heart muscle.
  • Blood thinners are another category of drugs that help during heart attacks. This medication prevents the blood from clotting further.
  • Acid reflux patients also have chest pain. It can happen when stomach acids reach your esophagus, and you need to take medication, such as antacids, to reduce the acids in your stomach.
  • Antidepressants can be helpful to those who experience panic attacks, which can, at times, cause chest pain, and the medication can bring relief to such patients.


  • You should have a regular health check and understand your medical history. If you happen to have a chronic health condition such as hypertension or diabetes, it is better to exercise precautions.
  • You must be aware of the medications that you intake daily, or you have recently taken for some ailment or any other reason because some of the drugs can trigger chest pain.
  • Having regular medical check-ups. An annual check-up would suffice for those below 30 and six monthly checks for those above 40. Those with prior medical conditions relating to heart and diabetes must have the prescribed number of check-ups in addition to regular ones.
  • Exercise and leading a stress-free life
  • Eating healthy and nutritious food. Make sure that you have a balanced diet.
  • If you are already on medication, you have to check if the doses need to be changed.
  • If you are taking dietary supplements, other drugs such as steroids, etc., you must be careful and contact your medical practitioner regularly.  
  • Limit your consumption of nicotine and alcohol.


You can prevent Chest pains that may not be as serious or those that cause a heart attack. You should pay attention to your body and not ignore the signs.

Q1. What is the ICD-10 code for chest pain Unspecified ?

In medical coding, R07.9 is billable/specific in the ICD-10-CM system and is a valid code used for reimbursement purposes when documenting a diagnosis. The 2024 edition of ICD-10-CM, including R07.9, took effect on October 1, 2023. It’s worth noting that while this code is used in the American version of ICD-10-CM, international versions of ICD-10 R07.9 may vary.


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