February 25, 2022

Chest pain happens to everyone from time to time, especially when it’s caused by indigestion or stress. However, chest pain may indicate you have a more serious problem if it’s waking you up in the middle of the night or if it happens every morning.

Here are seven reasons you may be waking up with heart pain, and how to know when it’s time to see a doctor for treatment.


7 Reasons You Are Waking Up With Chest Pain

Chest pain that you feel upon waking can be caused by any one of several reasons. Try to avoid self-diagnosing your chest pain at any time, as this symptom could indicate you need medical attention right away.

1. Heartburn

Heartburn can be described as a burning sensation in your chest right behind your breastbone. It usually occurs at night after eating a meal and becomes worse when you lie down. It occurs when stomach acid flows from your stomach back toward your throat.

Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Acid reflux can happen after you eat spicy foods or citrus fruits and after you drink alcohol. GERD is much more serious and requires medical treatment. If you do not treat GERD, it can damage your esophagus and increase the risk of esophageal cancer.


2. Heart Attack

Pressure, pain, or tightness in the chest is the most common sign of a heart attack. Heart attack can also cause heartburn, shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating. A heart attack occurs when an artery to your heart becomes blocked. A blocked artery is usually caused by plaque buildup.

Common causes of heart attacks include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and lack of exercise. It may also be caused by stress, diabetes, and illegal drug use. Heart failure and death can occur during or shortly after a heart attack.


3. Myocarditis

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. This heart condition can cause rapid or abnormal heartbeats, which are called arrhythmias. In addition to chest pain after waking up, myocarditis can cause fatigue and shortness of breath. It may also cause swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet.

Myocarditis can be caused by a wide range of factors, including viruses, bacteria, and medications. Over time, this heart condition can lead to heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and sudden death.


4. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. When your pancreas is inflamed, it can cause pain in the abdomen that radiates up to your chest. Other symptoms of pancreatitis include fever, nausea, and abdominal pain that gets worse after you eat.

Pancreatitis is often caused by obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and diabetes. It can also be caused by other medical conditions, including gallstones, infection, and cystic fibrosis. When left untreated, pancreatitis can lead to breathing problems, kidney failure, and pancreatic cancer.

5. Gallstones

Gallstones are small hardened stones that form in the gallbladder. These stones usually form due to eating too much cholesterol and fats and not enough fiber. Gallstones can cause abdominal pain that radiates up to your chest. This pain can become more severe if your gallbladder is also inflamed.

Gallstones can eventually lead to gallbladder cancer and the surgical removal of your gallbladder. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy, high-fiber diet can often reduce your risk of developing gallstones.


6. Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism (PE) is when a blood clot forms in an artery in the lungs to block blood flow. A PE can cause chest pain and tightness, making it feel like you’re having a heart attack. Other symptoms of PE include cough and shortness of breath.

You may get a PE if you have a history of blood clots or have cancer or heart disease. People with severe COVID-19 are also at high risk for PE. When not diagnosed or treated right away, PE can often lead to death.

7. Pulmonary Hypertension

Hypertension means high blood pressure. Pulmonary hypertension is when you have high blood pressure in the arteries that carry blood to your lungs. This medical condition can cause a rapid heart rate and tightness or pressure in the chest. It may also cause dizziness and shortness of breath.

Pulmonary hypertension may be caused by obesity, a history of blood clots, and the use of drugs and medications. Antidepressants, weight-loss drugs, and illegal drugs like cocaine can all increase your risk of getting this respiratory condition.


Other Causes Of Chest Pain After Waking Up

Chest pain after waking up may be caused by other factors and health conditions.

Possible heart-related causes of chest pain are angina and pericarditis. Angina occurs when blood flow to the heart is reduced due to a blocked artery. Pericarditis is inflammation in the sac around your heart.

A collapsed lung or lung cancer is a possible respiratory-related cause of chest pain after waking up. A panic attack can also cause chest pain upon waking, which is a major symptom of a type of anxiety disorder. An injury to a muscle or rib can cause chest pain when waking if you twist or move your upper body while sleeping.

At-Home Treatments For Waking Up With Chest Tightness

Heartburn and indigestion are usually common and mild health problems that can be treated on your own at home. Baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and yogurt are all anecdotal home remedies that can relieve heartburn. Speak with your doctor before trying these remedies to make sure they don’t interfere with special diets or medications.

Muscle pain or injury to the chest may be treated with a cold pack, which can reduce the need for pain relievers and medications. Your doctor may recommend other natural and at-home treatments for chest tightness based on the suspected cause of the problem.


When You Should See a Doctor

Any type of chest pain that feels unusual or that is accompanied by other symptoms should be treated as a medical emergency. Chest pain is the primary symptom of a heart attack. Don’t hesitate to seek help right away, as it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health and livelihood.

If you think you may have gallstones, pancreatitis, or another medical condition causing chest pain, make an appointment to see your doctor. Your healthcare provider can review your medical history and talk to you about your symptoms. Your doctor may also run tests to determine the true cause of your chest pain.

Healthcare Associates of Texas is home to a large team of board-certified medical professionals who can work with you to diagnose and treat chest pain that wakes you up. Visit our website to find the nearest location and request an appointment.


The information featured in this site is general in nature. The site provides health information designed to complement your personal health management. It does not provide medical advice or health services and is not meant to replace professional advice or imply coverage of specific clinical services or products. The inclusion of links to other web sites does not imply any endorsement of the material on such websites.

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