Tightness in chest and chest discomfort is not uncommon among the elderly.

Chest Pains When Breathing

You should consult a medical professional if you are experiencing persistent chest pains.

Question: My 65-year-old dad was warded for pneumonia recently. He was discharged after three days but still has chest pains when he coughs and sometimes even when he breathes. Does it mean that he has not fully recovered from the illness?

Answer: It can take up to three weeks or even longer to completely recover from pneumonia, a condition that can be associated with cough, phlegm, fever and shortness of breath. When someone has a prolonged cough or even a cough for a short period of time, he or she can develop chest pain or aches. This is due to the vigorous movements of the muscles and the ribs caused by coughing. Such pain is not life-threatening and is self-limiting and will go away when coughing stops. However, if the pain persists despite the complete resolution of pneumonia or cough, medical attention should be sought.

Dr Akash Verma
Senior Consultant
Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Chest Pains When Feeling Angry

Not all chest pains signify a serious medical condition.

Question: When I get agitated, my chest ‘tightens’. This usually lasts for about a minute and hurts sometimes. The tightness in my chest and chest pain go away after I stop what I’m doing and take a rest by sitting down. Does anger cause chest pain, and is it a sign of a more serious health problem? I’m a 56-year-old man with no history of heart disease.

Our thoughts and feelings are connected through the heart. As our body is a complex bio-feedback system, anger, fear and panic are classic causes for chest pain. Hence, the body will react in adverse physical ways when there is intense anger, and chest pain will go away naturally if you are rested.

It is important to note that for people who are not at high risk for heart disease (due to smoking or high blood pressure), the overall risk of heart attack and other heart conditions associated with angry outbursts is relatively small. However, if you have not had any health check recently, you are advised to consult a doctor who will be able to assess your overall cardiovascular risk and advise you appropriately.

Dr Gowri Doraisamy
Family Physician & Senior Consultant
National Healthcare Group Polyclinics

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