What are the causes of pain in the center of the chest?

Written by heather monroe
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What are the causes of pain in the center of the chest?
Chest pain strongly indicates internal problems (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Danny Williams)

The chest houses many vital organs. Pain in the centre of the chest can suggest something as minor as indigestion, or as serious as a heart attack. Chest pain is always an indication that something is wrong, and it warrants a trip to the emergency room.

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The heart, lungs, oesophagus and gallbladder are located in the upper chest. The largest artery in the body, the aorta, is also located in this region. Problems with these organs cause pain in the centre of the chest.

Heart Attack vs. Indigestion

Heart attack pain varies from patient to patient. Most heart attack and angina patients report a constant, aching pain. Other heart attack patients report a squeezing, bloated pain that also suggests indigestion. Only a doctor can tell you if the pain you are experiencing is caused by a heart attack or by simple indigestion.


Gallbladder pain is located in the upper-left portion of the chest. The pain may radiate toward your back. Gallbladder pain comes and goes, and usually occurs within hours of a heavy meal.


A tearing or ripping pain in the chest, especially accompanied by shortness of breath, may indicate an aortic aneurysm. This is potentially fatal and must be treated immediately.


Lung pain is a symptom of many diseases. Pneumonia and pleurisy cause pain in the centre chest, and make breathing difficult. This pain is usually accompanied by symptoms of cold and flu.

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