Menopause and Chest Pain - When to See Your Doctor | Stella
Heart health
5 mins

Chest pain in menopause

byDr. Lucy Wilkinson

Chest pain of any kind may make you feel alarmed, but it’s extremely common. It comes with a long list of possible causes ranging from the not-so-serious to an emergency. Read our guide to chest pain in menopause to find out if menopause makes chest pain more likely and when you should talk to a doctor.

What is chest pain

When we talk about chest pain, we mean any type of pain or discomfort in that area of your body. Calling it chest pain can be misleading, as people often describe their discomfort using other words, such as:

  • Pressure
  • Heaviness
  • Burning
  • Aching
  • Cramping
  • Tightness

Where you feel these sensations also varies from person to person. Your chest pain may appear in the front, sides or back of your ribcage and you might feel the pain travel to other parts of your body too.

What causes chest pain?

There are so many reasons why you might have chest pain. Your mind may jump to the worst-case scenario but some causes are less serious, such as muscular pain and even anxiety.

However, it’s important to see a doctor to ensure that there is nothing more sinister causing your chest pain, such as:

  • Heart attacks
  • Blood clots in the lungs (Pulmonary embolus or PE)
  • Aneurysms, which are bulging blood vessels

Can menopause cause chest pain?

Yes, it’s possible that your menopause symptoms are contributing to your chest pain, but you will also need to check with your doctor in case something more serious is going on.

Your oestrogen levels fall during menopause. You have an increased risk of serious causes of chest pain, such as heart attacks and other types of cardiovascular disease, as you lose the protective effect of oestrogen during menopause. This is why you should always see a doctor if you have chest pain.

Read more about menopause and oestrogen levels.

Aches and pains

Aches and pains anywhere on your body are common during menopause. You might have chest pain because of aching muscles in your chest, shoulders or back.

Breast pain and sensitivity

Fluctuating oestrogen levels can lead to breast pain, which can feel the same as other types of chest pain. See your doctor if you notice any changes to your breasts, such as lumps, rashes, dimpling or nipple changes. 

Read more about other warning signs to look out for during menopause.

Mental health

It’s common to feel anxious and stressed during menopause, which can occasionally cause chest pain. If your doctor has told you that your chest pain is due to anxiety, calming strategies can help. For example, simply taking a few deep breaths in and out of your nose can help relieve chest pain when you feel panicked. Tell your doctor if you are often struggling with chest pain when stressed, or if you have any other signs of serious illness (see below)

Read more about how mindfulness can ease anxiety.

When should you see a doctor?

When to call 999:

If you have any signs of a heart attack, including sudden or new chest pain with:

  • Pain that spreads to your jaw, arms, neck or back
  • Tightness, heaviness or pressure in your chest
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling shaky, sweaty, sick or otherwise unwell
  • Feeling dizzy or passing out
  • Palpitations for a duration of 10 minutes or more
  • Any other symptom that is worrying you

You should also call 999 if you have angina that is getting worse, happening at rest or not getting better when you take your usual medications. 

When to talk to your doctor

If you have any other new chest pain, including chest pain that comes and goes. It’s especially important to get checked out as soon as possible if you have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. These include:

  • Being a smoker or ex-smoker
  • Being overweight
  • Drinking more than the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week
  • High blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Heart problems, cancer, blood clotting problems, a previous pulmonary embolism (PE) or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or any other problems with your heart, lungs or circulation
  • A family history of heart or circulation problems, such as heart attacks, blood clots and/or stroke

Some types of HRT can increase your risk of blood clots, which can cause chest pain if they get stuck in your lung, known as a PE. Your doctor will ask if you are taking HRT or any other hormonal medications like the contraceptive pill.

Read more about the risks and benefits of HRT.

Final word

Chest pain often has a simple cause, but double-checking there’s not something more serious going on could ultimately save your life. Don’t ever feel like you are a bother to your doctor as they always want to hear about new symptoms as early as possible.

Find out more about menopause on our blog or in our symptoms library.