Chest pain of cardiac origin, or angina, is usually a heavy, constricting pain, felt in the centre of the chest. It can extend, or 'radiate', to the arms (more frequently the left), neck and jaw. Less frequently, it can be felt in the lower chest, stomach or back. It is typically precipitated by physical exertion and relieved by rest. Chest pain can also be due to problems with the muscles and bones in the chest, or to lung and stomach conditions. The safest approach is to assume that any chest pain is cardiac in origin unless proven otherwise.
If chest pain occurs at rest, you should consider a heart attack (myocardial infarction, MI). Typically, the pain of a heart attack is severe and it may be associated with sweating, clamminess, vomiting, a racing heart and lightheadedness . You should seek emergency help. Remember every minute counts.
If chest pain only occurs on exertion, you should consider angina.
Typical cardiac chest pain