The second most common symptom of heart disease is chest pain and may be due to angina, a heart attack, dissection of the aorta, or pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart).
Angina is caused by myocardial ischaemia (an inadequate supply of blood to the heart, usually due to blocked or narrowed arteries). It occurs during anxiety or exertion and is caused by the stimulation of pain fibres in the muscle.
Chest pain may also originate from a variety of other structures within the chest cavity (including the stomach, oesophagus, pleura, pulmonary arteries, and the aorta) or when organs below the chest cavity become irritated or diseased (such as an inflamed pancreas, gallbladder disease, oesophagitis, or peptic ulcers).
Other superficial causes of chest pain may be musculo-skeletal in source, including strained cartilage, irritated joints, pinched muscle in the chest wall, or trapped nerves in the thoracic spine.