Chest pain: Fast-track assessment of urgency

M. B. Cishek, K. M. Moser, Ezra A Amsterdam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Life-threatening causes of chest pain include acute myocardial infarction (MI), unstable angina, pulmonary embolism (PE), aortic dissection, pneumothorax, and esophageal rupture. Patients with unstable angina typically present with pressure-type pain similar to that of MI but of shorter duration. Sudden onset of severe chest pain radiating to the back, with nausea, diaphoresis, and syncope, suggests aortic dissection. Tachypnea in the absence of other findings may indicate PE. Subcutaneous emphysema over the neck and chest is consistent with esophageal rupture. Key studies include the electrocardiogram (ECG), chest film, and lung scan. Diffuse ST segment elevation on the ECG may help distinguish pericarditis from MI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-524
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Respiratory Diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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