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What are the Most Common Causes of Chest Pain and Headache?

By Daphne Mallory
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Chest pain and headache can be caused by a variety of illnesses, disorders, and environmental factors. Some causes are unknown, such as in the case of primary hypertension, and other causes sometimes occur as a result of daily activities, such as exercising. While medical attention is a must in some instances, some individuals can rid themselves of these symptoms by relaxing and getting plenty of rest.

Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, is a serious illness that needs medical attention. It can cause a headache and chest pain, although many people don't experience any symptoms of the problem. The cause of hypertension is often unknown, but sometimes it is related to another illness, disorder, or condition. For example, some pregnant women develop hypertension during the course of a pregnancy, and diabetes and high cholesterol can also cause it.

Legionnaires' disease is the result of a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract, and it can cause shortness of breath and chest pain, as well as a headache, fever, and chills. The bacteria that causes this illness can grow in water that has collected and circulated in water reservoirs, such as air conditioner cooling units and lakes, and can spread to people when they breath in contaminated droplets. Cigarette smokers are often most at risk of Legionnaires’ disease, as well as individuals with chronic lung problems.

A broken or bruised rib is a common cause of chest pain, and patients may experience headache symptoms as well. Individuals complain of tenderness just above the area where they suffered the injury. One indication that the rib is broken is the movement of a fracture, which is often detected by feeling around the rib cage. Someone with a broken or bruised rib will also have trouble taking deep breaths because of pain. Medical providers often order a chest X-ray to ensure that the patient’s lungs are not collapsed or bruised due to a fracture, and they may also check the upper abdomen for injuries to the liver or spleen.

Over-exercising is often the cause of these symptoms. Many individuals don’t experience problems until finishing a vigorous workout, but then a severe headache often occurs followed by upper chest pain. Resting after workouts often relieves these symptoms. If it’s chronic, then the person may have another disorder, such as cardiac ischemia, when there is insufficient blood flow to the heart. Individuals who suspect they have cardiac ischemia should consult with a medical professional.

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Discussion Comments
By anon357513 — On Dec 04, 2013

My boyfriend has high blood pressure, but I've been checking it every day and it's been around normal recently, and he's been experiencing headaches and chest pains every day.

A few days ago I came home from work and found him passed out on the floor. We are going to see our family doctor as soon as we can get in, but I don't know what could be causing this. Any opinions?

By Oceana — On Aug 09, 2012

I used to get chest pain and low blood pressure after a workout. I had just started running, and I believe that I was overdoing it.

My body was not accustomed to running, so I would get out of breath quickly. This would result in chest pains, and I would have to slow down or stop in order to make them go away.

When I finished a run and sat down, I would feel very weak, almost to the point of passing out. I checked my blood pressure once, and it was way below normal for me.

After sitting down, I would get a headache. This generally went away while I was showering, though.

By seag47 — On Aug 08, 2012

I believe that chest pain and stress are related. I have been under a large amount of stress for years, and I have often felt as if something heavy were sitting on my chest, making it hard for me to take a deep breath.

When my stress is at its highest point, I get a headache. It's always centered in one spot, and it makes concentrating difficult.

The chest pain is more bothersome than the headache, though, because it is nearly constant. The only time I don't feel it is while I'm sleeping and when I first wake up.

By orangey03 — On Aug 08, 2012

@giddion – It's not contagious. You get it from breathing in the contaminant.

My aunt got Legionnaire's disease, and she thought that it was just regular pneumonia. She got a bad cough, and this caused her chest pain, headache and neck pain. She really just ached all over, and she had chills and fever.

The chest pain scared her, so she went to her doctor, who gave her antibiotics. She got over it within a week.

There is another type of Legionnaire's that doesn't cause a cough and chest pain. It's called “Pontiac Fever.” It just causes fever and muscle aches, along with headaches.

By giddion — On Aug 07, 2012

Legionnaire's disease sounds scary! It almost sounds like one of those horrible outbreaks that has a movie made about it in which hundreds of people die.

Is Legionnaire's contagious? Can you die from it?

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