Did you currently experience chest pain and suspect it stems from stress? In the fast-paced rhythm of our daily lives, stress has become a ubiquitous and prevalent presence for many, and its impact on our well-being can be profound. One of the tangible and often disconcerting manifestations of stress is chest pain. In this in-depth guide, CARE delves into the intricacies of how stress can induce chest pain. We will explore the connection between stress, anxiety and chest pain, effective strategies to find pain relief, and crucial differentiators between stress-induced chest pain and a heart attack.
Published in General Health · 10 min read · Jan 18, 2024
Published in General Health
10 min read · Jan 18, 2024
Before you read this article any further, we urge you to seek medical care straight away if your chest pain is accompanied by any of these symptoms: pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back, weakness, a feeling of lightheadedness, shortness of breath and cold sweat. Please call an ambulance and get to the emergency department or emergency room, as these are typical symptoms of a heart attack.
If you think your chest pain is caused by stress, we will now explore why and how this occurs. Most importantly of all, we will give you tips on how to get relief from your chest pain now and how you can avoid it in the future, hopefully altogether.
So, how and why does chest pain from stress even occur?
Non-cardiac chest pain that is caused by stress is a multifaceted phenomenon intricately linked to your body's physiological response to stressors.  When faced with stress, your body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, triggering a cascade of reactions designed to prepare for a fight-or-flight response. These physiological changes can lead to muscle tension, including in the chest area, as your body readies itself for potential physical exertion.
Additionally, stress-induced hyperventilation is a common occurrence for people who suffer from anxiety disorders, which are also stress-related. Hyperventilation leads to a decrease in carbon dioxide levels in your blood. This can also result in a sensation of chest tightness or discomfort, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath. 
The intricate interplay of all these factors contributes to the manifestation of chest pain during periods of stress and anxiety.
Yes, absolutely. Stress and anxiety are prominent culprits in the onset of chest pain. Anxiety, characterized by excessive worry and heightened arousal, forms of stress, can lead to a range of physical symptoms, including chest tightness, palpitations, and shortness of breath. 
Stress and anxiety contribute to the release of stress hormones, impacting the cardiovascular system and intensifying muscle tension, both of which can contribute to chest discomfort.  
Moreover, individuals with pre-existing conditions such as an anxiety disorder (panic attacks) may experience more pronounced chest pain during episodes of heightened stress or severe anxiety. Anxiety chest pain, including during anxiety attacks, often presents as a tight or sharp sensation, exacerbated during periods of heightened emotional stress. 
It's essential to recognize the interconnectedness of mental stress and physical health and acknowledge the potential for stress and anxiety to manifest as chest pain.
The symptoms of stress-induced chest pain often correlate with the symptoms of anxiety or those one experiences during an isolated panic attack.
Below, CARE has summarized some common symptoms that typically accompany chest pain caused by stress. 
🤕 Chest Discomfort: Dull, achy, or tight sensation in the chest.
🤔 Pressure or Squeezing Sensation: Feeling of pressure or squeezing in the chest.
❤️ Palpitations: Increased heart rate or palpitations.
🤢 Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Indigestion, heartburn, or nausea.
💪 Muscle Tension: Stress-related muscle tension contributing to chest discomfort.
🌧️ Sweating: Clamminess or sweating during episodes.
😴 Fatigue: Feelings of fatigue and physical exhaustion.
😟 Anxiety and Restlessness: Heightened anxiety or restlessness.
🛌 Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia or poor-quality sleep.
🤕 Headaches: Stress-induced headaches.
🤔 Difficulty Concentrating: Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
😠 Increased Irritability: Heightened irritability or mood swings.
If you ask yourself how to relieve chest pain from anxiety and stress, we have a few recommendations for you.
Managing and relieving chest pain from stress involves adopting a multifaceted approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of stress. These are effective strategies to relieve chest pain from stress: 
It is crucial that you are able to differentiate between stress-induced chest pain and a potential cardiac event.
Chest pain from a heart attack is typically sudden and intense. Heart attack symptoms may involve crushing sensations, while anxiety-related chest pain and chest pain from stress are often characterized by a dull, achy, or tight sensation associated with emotional stress or tension.
Heart attack pain tends to be more persistent and can be accompanied by additional symptoms.
If you are unsure if you experience a heart attack or a stress-induced chest pain, seek medical attention immediately.
For your convenience, CARE has summarized some of the main differences between chest pain from stress and chest pain from a heart attack below: 
The duration of stress-induced chest pain is short-term, and the pain should subside gradually.  Still, the duration can vary widely based on individual factors and your underlying causes of stress. In numerous instances, with the adoption of stress management techniques and lifestyle adjustments, your symptoms can be alleviated within minutes.
However, chronic stress may lead to more persistent chest discomfort. Moreover, please be aware that chest pain caused by stress can be an indicator of coronary diseases or indicate a higher risk for heart disease. 
Do you ask yourself how to reduce chest pain from anxiety or stress? Avoiding stress-induced chest pain involves adopting a holistic approach that addresses both your physical and mental well-being.
CARE has curated a comprehensive list of actions to mitigate stress and reduce the risk of stress-induced chest pain:
By incorporating some of these lifestyle changes and stress management strategies, you can create a foundation for your overall well-being and significantly reduce the risk of stress-induced chest pain.
While stress-induced chest pain is often benign and gradually subsides, certain scenarios warrant prompt medical attention as they indicate a cardiac event rather than anxiety or stress-induced chest pain:
If you would like to optimize your well-being and fitness to make sure that you age gracefully and stay fit and healthy, becoming a member of CARE can be the first step in your health journey. Through our comprehensive health assessments and in-depth blood analysis, we can take a look at different biomarkers in your blood that indicate potential health gaps or can even detect changes in your body to prevent potential diseases early on. Other than common healthcare providers, we ensure to take the time to explain your health check-up results to you in-detail and with personal attention to your individual health goals.
Are you ready to become the healthiest version of yourself? Then let’s get in touch.
Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!