What Does Chest Pain on the Left Side Above a Female Breast Mean?

Reviewed on 3/8/2021

What is chest pain?

Chest pain on the left side above a female breast may be due to heartburn, a panic attack, gallbladder disease, gallstones, peptic ulcer and pneumonia.
Chest pain on the left side above a female breast may be due to heartburn, a panic attack, gallbladder disease, gallstones, peptic ulcer and pneumonia.

There are numerous vital organs on the left side of the body. Under the left breastbone are the heart, spleen, stomach, pancreas, and large intestine. When you have chest pain on the left side above your breast, it can be caused by a variety of things. It is important to pay attention to other symptoms in addition to the pain to determine if you should seek medical attention. 

In some cases, pain in the chest may be angina which is a warning sign for heart disease. Angina happens because your heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood. The pain feels like pressure or squeezing in your chest. The pain can spread from your left chest to your shoulders, neck, jaw, or back. This is similar to a heart attack

If you are experiencing prolonged chest pain on the left side, you should first rule out a heart attack before moving forward with treatment. Signs of a heart attack include: 

Signs and symptoms of chest pain on the left side above a female breast

It can be difficult determining exactly where your pain is coming from. Especially chest pain, because the nerves in your chest do not always indicate the specific cause of the pain. It is important to determine if your chest pain is related to your heart. If it is not, there are other causes to consider. Chest pain on the left side can also be connected to other symptoms that might help you locate the cause. 

Related symptoms of chest pain on the left side above a female breast include: 

Pressure in the chest

Pressure in your chest on the left side can be an indicator of heart attack. It may feel like someone is sitting on your chest. However, this feeling can also be a symptom of angina which can indicate heart disease.

Radiating pain

Your pain can spread from your chest to your jaw, neck, shoulders, or back. It’s important to track where your pain started and where it spread. 

Dizziness

Feeling lightheaded can accompany chest pain on the left side. If you feel out of breath or dizzy, you should consult your doctor and tell them your symptoms. 

Chest pain on the left side can present in classic ways with normal symptoms, but when it’s accompanied by other symptoms it becomes worrisome. 

Causes of chest pain on the left side above a female breast

Chest pain on the left side can have a variety of causes. After ruling out angina and heart attack, there are other causes you should look for. Those include: 

Heartburn

This is a frequent cause of chest pain. It’s related to indigestion and can feel like your heart is on fire. However, your heart is not affected by heartburn. It is actually your esophagus that burns from stomach acid coming up into your throat

Panic attack

A panic attack can have symptoms that mimic angina, and can cause your heart rate to increase, trembling, shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest pain. This is a psychiatric condition that needs to be treated by a mental health specialist.

Gallbladder disease

Gallstones and other gallbladder issues can cause pressure and extreme muscle spasms in your upper right stomach that can radiate to your chest, making you feel pain in your left chest. 

Peptic ulcer

These are sores that develop in your stomach due to acid from your digestive tract eating away your stomach, esophagus, or small interesting lining. Most often you will feel the pain in your stomach, but it can radiate to the middle or left of your chest. These sores are very painful and will require medication.

Pneumonia

Because your lungs are located in your chest underneath your breasts, symptoms of pneumonia can cause pain in your left chest above your breast. 

When to see the doctor for chest pain on the left side above a female breast

If you experience additional symptoms to your chest pain on the left side and are uncertain about the source of the pain, you should immediately seek medical attention. This includes chest pain that gets increasingly worse and is not relieved by treatments at home, including rest and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Diagnosing chest pain on the left side above a female breast

To diagnose the cause of your chest pain on the left side your doctor will discuss your symptoms and may run blood tests. They also may take X-rays or order an electrocardiogram (EKG) and exercise stress test. They will want to rule out a heart attack or other heart problems.

The doctor may also evaluate you for microvascular angina—this can occur when your heart’s arteries are not supplying enough oxygen-rich blood due to spasm or cellular dysfunction. Once heart problems have been ruled out, they will look for other signs of trauma to your chest and breast and may run further tests to determine if it is related to another illness. 

Treatments for chest pain on the left side above a female breast

Since there are many causes for chest pain on the left side, there may be different treatments that your doctor will prescribe based on your diagnosis. If it is determined that you have microvascular angina the doctor will prescribe medication including:

The underlying cause of your chest pain will determine the urgency and extent of the treatment. If your chest pain is not related to your heart, the doctor may recommend the following treatments: 

  • Antacids or acid reducers to prevent reflux and heartburn
  • Anxiety medication
  • Surgery on one of the organs under your left side if they are the cause

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References
SOURCES:

American Heart Association: "Heart Attack Symptoms in Women."

Harvard Health Publishing: "Other conditions may be causes of chest pain."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Microvascular Angina: Why Women Shouldn’t Ignore Chest Pain and Fatigue."

Medical News Today: "Chest pain in women: what causes it, and how do doctors diagnose it?"

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Angina."

UNC Health Talk: "Is Your Chest Pain a Sign of a Heart Attack, or Something Else?"

The University of Alabama at Birmingham: "Chest pain: It’s not always a matter of the heart."

Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine: "Women and Chest Pain: Recognizing the Different Faces of Angina in the Emergency Department."

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