Chest Pain: If It Is Not the Heart, What Is It?

Nurs Clin North Am. 2018 Sep;53(3):421-431. doi: 10.1016/j.cnur.2018.04.009. Epub 2018 Jul 11.


Noncardiac chest pain is an angina-type discomfort without indication of ischemia. Diagnosis can be difficult because of its heterogeneous nature. Classification varies by specialty; gastroenterology uses the terminology gastroesophageal reflux disease related versus non-gastroesophageal reflux disease related. Other disciplines recognize noncardiac chest pain etiologies as having gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, psychiatric, or pulmonary/other as underlying etiologies. Diagnostics yield a specific cause for effective treatment, which is aimed at the underlying etiology, but it is not always possible. Some patients with noncardiac chest pain have comorbidities and ongoing pain that lead to decreased quality of life and continued health care use.

Keywords: Angina; Functional chest pain; Noncardiac chest pain; Unexplained chest pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chest Pain / diagnosis*
  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Chest Pain / nursing
  • Chest Pain / therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications
  • Humans
  • Panic Disorder / complications
  • Tietze's Syndrome / complications