Chest Pain - Adult


    Chest Pain (Adult Inpatient)

    Clinical Description

    • Care of the hospitalized patient experiencing chest discomfort or pain.

    Key Information

    • Myocardial ischemia should always be considered as the cause of chest pain until proven otherwise when risk or suspicion of heart disease is present. Severity of chest pain has little association with seriousness of the cause.
    • Life-threatening causes of chest pain must be initially evaluated, such as acute coronary syndrome, pulmonary embolism, acute myocardial infarction, tension pneumothorax or aortic dissection. When cardiac cause is identified, timely treatment must be initiated.
    • Women, patients with diabetes and older adults frequently have unique presentations of ischemic cardiac pain.
    • Other causes of chest pain may include muscle strain, stomach or esophageal source (e.g., gastroesophageal reflux disease), pericarditis, pneumonia, costochondritis, pancreatitis, herpes zoster infection and cocaine use.

    Clinical Goals

    By transition of care

    A. The patient will achieve the following goals:
    • Resolution of Chest Pain Symptoms

    B. Patient, family or significant other will teach back or demonstrate education topics and points:
    • Education: Overview
    • Education: Self Management
    • Education: When to Seek Medical Attention

    Correlate Health Status

    • Correlate health status to:

      • history, comorbidity
      • age, developmental level
      • sex, gender identity
      • baseline assessment data
      • physiologic status
      • response to medication and interventions
      • psychosocial status, social determinants of health
      • barriers to accessing care and services
      • health literacy
      • cultural and spiritual preferences
      • safety risks
      • family interaction
      • plan for transition of care

    Chest Pain


    • chest heaviness
    • complaint of chest pain, pressure
    • diaphoresis
    • discomfort in arm, neck or jaw
    • fatigue
    • indigestion
    • nausea and vomiting
    • pain frequency intermittent or constant
    • pain with radiation
    • palpitations
    • shortness of breath

    Vital Signs

    • heart rate increased or decreased
    • respiratory rate increased

    Problem Intervention

    Manage Acute Chest Pain

    • Note pain quality, characteristics, location, duration and associated signs and symptoms that may include diaphoresis, radiation, nausea and vomiting; assess aggravating and relieving factors.
    • Reassess pain frequently to determine effect of activity and interventions; use a consistent pain scale.
    • Prepare patient for diagnostic testing to determine pain source that may include an electrocardiogram, biochemical markers, computed tomography or chest x-ray.
    • Provide oxygen therapy judiciously if hypoxemia is present.
    • Anticipate aspirin administration, if not contraindicated.
    • Titrate medication in response to patient status; minimize the amount of medication needed to control symptoms.

    Associated Documentation

    • Chest Pain Intervention


    CPG-Specific Education Topics


    • risk factors

    • signs/symptoms

    Self Management

    • activity

    • provider follow-up

    When to Seek Medical Attention

    • unresolved/worsening symptoms

    General Education Topics

    General Education

    • admission, transition of care

    • orientation to care setting, routine

    • advance care planning

    • diagnostic tests/procedures

    • diet modification

    • opioid medication management

    • oral health

    • medication management

    • pain assessment process

    • safe medication disposal

    • tobacco use, smoke exposure

    • treatment plan

    Safety Education

    • call light use

    • equipment/home supplies

    • fall prevention

    • harm prevention

    • infection prevention

    • MDRO (multidrug-resistant organism) care

    • personal health information

    • resources for support


    • Allardet-Servent, J.; Sicard, G.; Metz, V.; Chiche, L. Benefits and risks of oxygen therapy during acute medical illness: Just a matter of dose! . 2019;40(10) doi:10.1016/j.revmed.2019.04.003 [Review Articles,Expert/Committee Opinion,Core Curriculum,Position Statements,Practice Bulletins]
    • Arslan, M.; Dedic, A.; Boersma, E.; Dubois, E. A. Serial high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T measurements to rule out acute myocardial infarction and a single high baseline measurement for swift rule-in: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care. 2019; doi:10.1177/2048872618819421 Source[Metasynthesis,Meta-analysis,Systematic Review]
    • Burgstaller, J. M.; Jenni, B. F.; Steurer, J.; Held, U.; Wertli, M. M. Treatment efficacy for non-cardiovascular chest pain:   A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2014;9(8), e104722. [Metasynthesis,Meta-analysis,Systematic Review]
    • Hammond, B. B.; Zimmermann, P. G. (2013). Sheehy's manual of emergency care. St. Louis: Mosby, Elsevier. [Review Articles,Expert/Committee Opinion,Core Curriculum,Position Statements,Practice Bulletins]
    • Marx, J. A.; Hockberger, R. S.; Walls, R. M. (2018). Rosen's emergency medicine. Philadelphia: Elsevier. [Review Articles,Expert/Committee Opinion,Core Curriculum,Position Statements,Practice Bulletins]
    • O'Driscoll, B. R.; Howard, L. S.; Earis, J.; Mak, V.; British Thoracic Society Emergency Oxygen Guideline Group. BTS guideline for oxygen use in adults in healthcare and emergency settings. Thorax. 2017, Jun;72(Suppl 1), ii1-ii90. [Quality Measures,Clinical Practice Guidelines]
    • Skinner, J. S.; Smeeth, L.; Kendall, J. M.; Adams, P. C.; Chest Pain Guideline Development Group. Chest pain of recent onset:  Assessment and diagnosis of recent onset chest pain or discomfort of suspected cardiac origin. Heart. 2010;96(12), 974-978. doi:10.1136/hrt.2009.190066 [Quality Measures,Clinical Practice Guidelines]
    • Urden, L. D.; Stacy, K. M.; Lough, M. E. (2018). Critical care nursing:  Diagnosis and management. St. Louis: Mosby, Elsevier. [Review Articles,Expert/Committee Opinion,Core Curriculum,Position Statements,Practice Bulletins]


    Clinical Practice Guidelines represent a consistent/standardized approach to the care of patients with specific diagnoses. Care should always be individualized by adding patient specific information to the Plan of Care.

    Small Elsevier Logo

    Cookies are used by this site. To decline or learn more, visit our cookie notice.

    Copyright © 2024 Elsevier, its licensors, and contributors. All rights are reserved, including those for text and data mining, AI training, and similar technologies.

    Small Elsevier Logo
    RELX Group