Heavy Chest Feeling: Causes And Treatment for Tightness in Chest

Tightness in Chest

Chest pain is perceived by many characteristic feelings such as tightness, squeezing, discomfort, or pressure in the chest.

Tight chest feeling by an individual is one of the most common signs that panic the patient and people around. Though there can be many reasons of heavy chest feeling, most people relate chest pain to heart attack.

Heavy chest feeling in itself is not a disease, but a signal from the body with causes ranging from trivial to catastrophic. Heavy feeling in chest should be considered a warning sign from the body, and medical opinion by a physician becomes necessary to rule out any serious disease.

Causes of heavy chest feeling can be acute or chronic

Acute causes of heavy chest feeling are

  • Gastritis or esophagitis: Chest pain involving the lower chest and upper abdomen, and increases on swallowing or after eating food.
  • Myocardial infarction or heart attack: sudden excruciating chest pain with squeezing and heavy feeling in the chest. Pain may radiate to shoulder and jaw. Sweating or breathing difficulty can accompany with it.
  • Fracture of ribs: there is history of trauma in individuals who have heavy chest feeling and pain in the chest.
  • Pneumonia and bronchitis: cough, fever, shortness of breath with greenish mucus is sign of respiratory tract infection.
  • Asthma: heavy chest with difficulty in breathing, wheezing (audible breathing) and cough are presenting symptoms of asthma.

Chronic causes of heaviness in chest:

  • Intercostals myalgia: pain on the edge of breast bone, which increases on deep breathing or coughing.
  • Ulcer in stomach
  • Tuberculosis of lungs.

Treatment for tightness in chest will depend on the cause, but on a cautious note it is advisable to consult a physician on slightest doubt of heaviness in chest. As he will be able to understand better with the aid of modern medical investigations like X-ray of chest and electrocardiogram.


  1. P S said:

    I am having chronic HTN. The doctor has advised me to take medicines for BP, Gastric Problems and for keeping the cholesterol in order. Despite taking the medicine regularly, I feel a bloating feeling with occasional tightness and light pain in the upper left chest. What can be the cause for such types of complaints?

    January 2, 2011
  2. Temi said:

    I have been having pains in my rib cage on both sides under my breasts. I also have pain in my chest and in the upper back and in my armpit. Some times I feel pain in my jaw, neck and hands. I have done ECG and Echo in late last year and both are all normal. I am confused and will really appreciate any suggestion and remedy.

    April 11, 2012
  3. MM said:

    I had chest tightness and heavy breathing. It was so bad that an ambulance was called and I was rushed to hospital, where I waited for four hours in the A+E. I was finally seen and I had to ask for ECG and X-Ray to be done. They found nothing and at three in the morning I was told to go home. To cut a long story short, it happened again the next day and this time I decided to take my chances in my bed rather than going to the hospital. What does that tell you….It means there is no cure?

    June 8, 2013
    • PUP said:

      Even if the first ECG is found to be normal, and if there is persistent difficulty in breathing and chest discomfort, you should consult your physician for an ECG after 24 hours to find changes in it if any. You may also need to do certain blood tests for cholesterol, triglyceride, etc as advised by the physician.

      June 9, 2013
  4. BH said:

    I smoke up 20 cigarettes in a day. My problem is, I have a feeling of tightness and heaviness in my chest. It often pains. Is there anything which can relieve my sufferings?

    February 1, 2014
    • PUP said:

      The only cure for suffering is you have to stop smoking. Aside from the discomfort you are having, the long term consequence of smoking are devastating and life threatening. To name few, lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke etc. People who smoke have significant higher risk of suffering from such diseases than people who do not smoke. So the first thing you have to do is to sop smoke.

      February 2, 2014

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