May cause chest pain

Chest pain - not always from the heart

According to the gastro-league, chest pain - alongside stomach pain - is one of the most common reasons why people see a doctor in an emergency. Frieling, who heads the Medical Clinic II at the Helios Clinic in Krefeld, explains: “Non-cardiac chest pain occurs at all levels of care, for example in hospital emergency rooms or in so-called chest pain units. 20 to 60 percent of the patients who come to these facilities suffer from it. "


If the doctor can rule out a heart attack or other heart disease, many other triggers can be considered. These can be diseases of the lungs or the musculoskeletal system as well as psychosomatic causes. Dysfunctions of the upper digestive tract also often play an important role. Since the gullet (esophagus) in the chest is in close proximity to the heart, diseases of this organ can cause chest pain. Some of the possible causes of noncardiac chest pain include:


  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is an increased flow of stomach acid back into the esophagus,
  • Movement disorders or increased sensitivity of the esophagus,
  • Inflammation of the gullet (esophagitis) caused by infection, tablets (tablet ulcer) sticking to it, or immune reactions such as eosinophilic esophagitis,
  • Irritable stomach (functional dyspepsia)
  • or cancer of the esophagus (esophageal carcinoma).


Common: reflux disease

According to the Gastro-Liga, around 24 percent of adults in Germany suffer from chronic heartburn or acid regurgitation. "A doctor should definitely clarify such complaints further if the patient does not respond or does not respond adequately to acid-inhibiting therapy," stresses Frieling. Even if the patient continues to buy acid blockers or if they have alarm symptoms such as swallowing difficulties or weight loss, the pharmacy team should definitely refer them to a doctor.


The symptoms are often based on reflux disease, in which acidic stomach contents or juice flow back into the esophagus and cause damage or discomfort there. If GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is suspected, the doctor can use a 24-hour pH measurement to determine whether and how much gastric juice flows back into the esophagus within a day. With an endoscopy, he can not only see how badly the esophagus has already been attacked, but can also remove tissue for examination if necessary.