Using a structured clinical assessment to identify the cause of chest pain
Intended for healthcare professionals

Using a structured clinical assessment to identify the cause of chest pain

George Stephens Advanced clinical practitioner, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To recognise the various types of chest pain

  • To identify chest pain that requires urgent intervention

  • To familiarise yourself with the elements of a structured chest pain assessment

Chest pain is a common reason for patient presentation to emergency departments and visits to primary care settings. While most causes of chest pain are not life-threatening, a small proportion require urgent intervention, particularly cardiac conditions such as acute coronary syndrome. Therefore, it is essential for healthcare practitioners, including nurses, to identify the cause of chest pain in a safe, timely and effective manner. This article outlines the main causes of chest pain and describes the aspects of chest pain assessment, including patient history-taking, physical examination and clinical investigations. Assessing chest pain requires healthcare practitioners to have knowledge of its causes and pathophysiology, the use of structured assessment tools and the latest evidence-based guidelines.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2019.e11384

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Stephens G (2019) Using a structured clinical assessment to identify the cause of chest pain. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2019.e11384

Published online: 25 March 2019

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