Stabbing Chest Pains: How Serious Are They?

In the majority of cases, these sharp pains are caused by tense muscles, as well as anxiety or excessive worry.  Breathe with the diaphragm to relax.

Sharp pains when breathing…  It feels like thousands of needles pricking your chest and temporarily restricts your breathing.  What causes it?  Is it a sign of something more serious?  First, calm down and watch the course of the pain and how it changes.  The majority of times, these alarming pains are caused by stress or anxiety.  We’ll tell you more in this article.

Sharp, stabbing pain!

Woman's heart

Many describe them as tiny stabbing pains, direct jabs to the heart that come on suddenly, restricting breathing. We should tell you that this is a relatively common phenomenon that we’ve all experienced at some point, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it should be ignored.  When experiencing one of these attacks, doctors recommend following these guidelines:

  • Sit comfortably and try your best to calm down.
  • Remember that it will pass within a few moments.
  • Relax and try to breathe calmly and slowly, exhaling through the mouth.
  • Take your pulse, if you can.  If you notice it’s high and accompanied with rapid breathing and pain that extends into the neck or arms, seek medical assistance immediately.  But, to reiterate, in almost 70% of cases the cause of these attacks can be attributed to anxiety or stress.

Cause 1: Anxiety or Stress

anxiety attack

Anxiety and stress are the number one causes and shouldn’t be ignored because stabbing chest pains can be a sign of something more serious.  Something curious that you may not know: symptoms of stress or anxiety do not always occur with the stressful situation; it’s possible to work in a stress and anxiety filled environment and still perform well throughout the day, but the symptoms of anxiety and stress will follow you home.

When you get home, you get a headache, feel dizzy… and what’s worse is the symptoms can reappear the next morning as you’re getting dressed for work.




Experts report that the highest number of heart attacks and other cardiac problems occur during the holidays and weekends, those times where we’re supposed to be relaxing, but the body is incapable of doing so.  The level of cortisol in the body is too high and symptoms like stabbing chest pains begin to appear.

They can happen when you’re sitting down to dinner, watching TV, or talking on the phone, and then all of a sudden, you feel like you can’t breathe.  Check out some of the most common causes of stabbing chest pain:

  • Tense muscles.  The tension rises so high that it becomes a problem and suddenly we’re unable to breathe properly.
  • Vegetative hyperactivity (dizziness, rapid heart beat, sweating, classic tachypnea, characterized by rapid, intense breathing that can lead to stabbing pains in the chest).

What can we do to alleviate the symptoms?

What you should do first is try to relax and begin breathing from the diaphragm.  This allows the lungs to completely fill with air.  How is it done?  Follow these steps:

  • Sit comfortably.
  • Place one hand on your abdomen, just above the navel.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nostrils.  Notice the movement of your hand and your belly rising.
  • Hold the breath for 2 seconds.
  • Purse your lips like you’re about to blow out a candle.
  • Exhale (slowly blowing) for four seconds.

Cause 2:  A Cardiac Problem

heart 2 There are several risk factors we should be aware of:

  • Usually the occurrence of cardiac problems rises between the ages of 50 and 55.
  • Previous symptoms: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history of cardiac ailments.

The first thing we need to do when we feel a jab in our chests is to sit down and follow these guidelines:

  • Calm down and follow the breathing pattern described above.
  • How is your pulse?  Is it fast?  Irregular, briefly beating fast, then slowly?
  • If the pains do not stop after 5 minutes and become more intense, seek medical attention.
  • Also seek medical attention immediately if the pain extends to your neck, jaw or arms.
  • If you notice pain accompanied with a strong tightness in the chest that restricts breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.

It’s essential to make sure the discomfort does not become too severe and above all lead to the symptoms described above.  Reassure yourself that anxiety is the most likely cause, but is still something to pay attention to.  Take care of yourself, you deserve it!