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WARNING! If you have chest pain like this, you need to see a doctor NOW!

Dr. Akin-Onitolo A.

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You may have noticed pain/heaviness in the centre of your chest that brings with it a feeling of doom. It really scares you and you often feel your heart beating double time or the room you are in starts to spin. And it is not once or twice you have felt this; you notice it when you do a lot of work, think worrisome thoughts, get overly excited, or eat heavy meals. And you remember Shuaibu Amodu and the other football stars you heard just slumped and died.

The pain may even spread to your neck, teeth or arms, rising steadily before it eventually frees you for some time. And you pant, sweat excessively or faint when it happens. To be honest, you are not alone. This type of pain is said to affect as much as 9% of people in some environments, sending many home from work and sadly, sometimes to the grave.

If your pain is anything similar to the type described, then it is probably coming from your heart. You very likely have the type of pain called angina; it can lead to a heart attack. You have probably wondered about the cause. Your friends do not seem to have it, so why you? It is mostly due to the collection of fatty deposits and others on the wall of a blood vessel in the heart which then increases in size until it is blocked. At other times, low blood level, some heart and blood vessel conditions may cause it.

When the pain appears to be worsening and coming up while you are resting, you need to see your doctor fast. You will very likely be asked to do an ECG; a test done to check the electrical activity of the heart. An ECG is also able to detect damage/injury to the heart warranting appropriate treatment.

If you smoke, you would have to quit. It is also encouraged that you take up exercise as much as you are able to, and lose some weight if obese. If already hypertensive or diabetic, it is important that you manage these well in order to reduce the risk of getting a heart attack.

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Dr. Akin-onitolo A. is a graduate of the University of Lagos whose mission is to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) using health promotion and improved health literacy. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who had her elective at King's College London. Hugely interested in travel, meeting people and generally being creative, reading and writing fiction are a few hobbies you could find her engaged in during her spare time. Catch up with her on Twitter @Akinonitolo and Instagram @t_onitolo