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Chest/back/arm pains, trouble breathing..pls help
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Chest/back/arm pains, trouble breathing..pls help

I didnt realize how long my original post was until I actually went to reread it. I'm going to try to sum it up as short as possible because I really would like some insight if anyone has any. I'm 23, overweight (I'm working on it..have lost 30lbs so far), eat very healthy almost always, don't smoke or drink and have a family history of heart disease. Both of my grandfathers died of heart attacks in their 50s and my dad had a heart attack when he was 37 and another at 42 which killed him.  Since I was 19 or 20 I have experienced pains that I was concerned might be heart related. I had a very sharp strong pain in my left shoulder and arm. It lasted for days and hurt when I breathed (particularly exhaled) It hurt to lay on that arm and to lift it but it definitely didnt feel like a muscle spasm. It was on the outside part of my arm/shoulder. Sometimes physical exertion gives me similar chest/arm pain especially if I walk a lot in the cold or am outside shoveling snow. A few times in the last year or so I have felt a very very uncomfortable extreme pressure or fullness in my chest that seemed to travel up my esophogus and to the back of my head. That always passed within a matter of minutes and went away if I lied down.

Recently about 3 weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night with bad heart palpatations. I felt dizzy and short of breath too. It took about 45 minutes to pass. A few days later I woke up with a pain in the upper left side of my back. It hurt or felt like a tightness or pressure when I breathed in deep.ALmost 4 weeks later I still feel it and also feel it when I stretch a certain way. I dont feel any pain or tenderness if I actually touch my back. A couple of days after I felt the back pain I was short of breath. I wasnt able to get a deep satisfying breaths and was extremely dizzy and lightheaded and felt weak. It went on for 3 days constantly so I ended up going to the ER. They did bloodwork, an EKG, and chest xrays and everything came back clear. The doctor was concerned about a clot in my lungs and I had a full body catscan which also came back clear. He had no idea what was wrong with me. Assumed it was anxiety and sent me home. 2 days later I still couldnt breathe right and was just as dizzy and tired so I went back to the ER in a heart hospital. They did the same tests as hospital #1 minus the catscan. They also said it was probably stress and sent me home.  My breathing eventually went back to normal for the most part but my back still hurts (the pain changes) and i frequently will feel twinges of pain particularly on my collar bone, in either armpit and my shoulders.

I believe I am not currently having a heart attack but I'm scared that what I've been feeling is a precursor to one. I am going to see a GP hopefully this coming week and I just wanted to know if there are certain tests I should ask for. Both doctors in both hospitals said the only possible way something could be wrong is i had a blockage but at my age, they didnt feel that was really even an option. My dad had problems with his arteries so I want to make sure thats not whats going on with me. I would like a stress test and possibly and echocardiogram. My friends uncle who is a doctor told me to ask about blood gas? But I dont know what that is. Does anyone think what I've been feeling is cardiac related? For the last few weeks I've been online constantly looking up heart forums and websites reading about symptoms and treatments. I cant sleep at night and must have a phone near me at all times because I keep waiting for something bad to happen. Im tired of living like this because I'm driving myself crazy. I hope this post is a little shorter than my original. Thank you to anyone who is willing to read this.
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I just sent you a large post and it was totally lost; so here i go again; but this time i'll make it short and sweet; if i can!  I just had to respond to your post.
It has been almost 3 weeks since i had my heart attack and an emergency cath. I had a 95% blockage in one artery and another 75% blockage in another.  I'm a woman and had all the symptoms of Gerd (Gastric esophageal reflux disease) Had the thing put down my throat and a biopsy done; Nothing! Had a Nuclear stress test; and after almost 4 hrs. of that; Nothing as well. So after many blood test, Xrays, CT, and two days at the hospital,  i was sent home with medications and pain killers; still with uncontrolable Gerd!   For 5 days i didn't sleep, cause every time i laid down for a half hr. i would wake up with pain for two hrs. Lay down position was the worse. Thats the way it went. Took the meds and they would help temporarily. The pain pill was the only thing that would get me through the day Then six days after release from hospital; i had a second attack. Couldn't understand why this Gerd was what it was; especially since i didn't have the nausea, the vomiting,, not even the acid come up and i couldn't understand why my esophageal was on fire all the time; at least thats what it felt like. Then in the back of my mind i kept remembering that annoying pressure in my back; why was it there? It felt like someone was making a fist and trying to push it through my spine(that went on for about a week or so). I took those pain killers; and nothing happened; i called my son to come and by the time i hung up i was brought to my knees and knew i was in serious trouble; so i called 911 again. I remembered what they said to do if i ever thought i was having a heart attack (mind you i thought this was my Gerd again!) i took 4 chewable baby aspirins, with no water; remember chewable; not coated 81 mg. They may have saved the day!  Those pain killers weren't working; immediately i realized this had to be a heart attack.  The pain was in my esophgeal, radiating to the left, over my chest area; up through my neck; then the left jaw. Once it hit the jaw; i knew, this was it. My teeth felt like they were going to pop out of my mouth one by one. What i'm trying to say is this. Women do not get the same symptoms as men; they are not your classic pain in the chest and left arm; and they do get those symptoms early on; up to a month or so before; let no one tell you differently.   Don't be afraid to speak up; and don't wait any longer. I was the oldest female in my cardiac unit; there were two girls who also had heart attacks between 25 -33 years old. You know your body; no one can tell you nothings wrong; if you feel there is. Go with your intuition, your gut! Same for men; if you think it is; it usually is!  As for being afraid of the angioplasty; forget it!  You don't know what afraid is; until your alone having a heart attack and not knowing help is coming, will they make it;  or if you can't even open the door for them. Thats afraid! Be more afraid of crossing the street!
Back to you Starrynight; if they find nothing; i suggest you have a mammogram; since this too can cause backache and problems in your armpits. Hope i've helped someone. I wanted to get this message across; especially to women. We don't get the same symptoms for a heart problem; and i plan on spreading that word; please do the same.

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Avatar_f_tn
That is unbelievably frightening to me knowing that you were having all of those symptoms and they ran almost every test available and they all came back clear even though you had those two blockages. How can that happen? That's exactly what worries me and why I'm scared that they missed something. I am curious about the 25 y/o who had a heart attack. I wonder what caused hers (if it was a blockage or something else)  I made sure I told the doctors I was aware of the symptoms in women and how its different for men usually. I had a female doctor (this was the doctor at the heart hospital) and she said she knew what I was saying, but it so rarely happens in people my age. Which I also know is true, but just because its rare, doesnt mean it doesnt happen.

I was telling my friend about everything thats been going on and she told me that her aunt just had open heart surgery. She said her aunt was short of breath and had back pain for about a week. She did a stress test and they saw abnormalities and she got an angiogram and they ended up finding 3 blockages. My friend was reassuring me that her aunt is in her 50s and was a heavy smoker but I'm still uncomfortable having the same symptoms. When my dad had his 1st heart attack at 37 I'm not sure if he ever felt any symptoms in the days weeks months or even years prior. I wish he were around so I could ask him. But the night before he was complaining to my mom about bad heartburn. When he woke up my mom said he was sweaty and grey and said he felt like someone punched him in the chest. He called his doctor who told him to come in right away. Gave him an ekg and a stress test and told him he was having a heart attack. He had angioplasty and was ok for a while. A few years later (a month almost exactly to the date before his 43rd birthday) he went for a jog in the cold because his treadmill broke (for a 2nd time) and he was trying to stay active until he got it fixed. He collapsed and died shortly after he came in. He changed all of his bad habits and tried so hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle in every aspect after his first heart attack. Breaks my heart thinking about it.

Anyway big issue right now is that I just got the hospital bill. I went there with no insurance (i told them that up front) and the bill ended up being $11,000 :-( I nearly fainted.  About 6K was from the CT scan alone. The day after I got home from the ER I called something called Just Benefits. I called 2 weeks ago on a Monday and my card and information should have arrived by now so I really hope it gets here soon because as soon as it arrives, I'm making an appointment with a GP. I can't see anyone before I get this insurance information in the mail because I don't have the money. Theres no way I can even pay all of the 11K. I'm making a few calls on Monday and hopefully will find SOME kind of coverage. My head is a mess right now. This whole thing is just a mess.  When I do go back to the doctor, I will at least ask for an echocardiogram and a nuclear stress test. I think thats a good start for now. Depending on how much this policy covers, maybe I will go in for an angiogram.  I just have a question about angiograms actually. I have heard the most common way to insert the cath is through the groin, but I have also heard about it being inserted in the arm. Is one way more effective than the other? Is having it done through the arm less risky than the groin?

Thank you for resending your message and sharing your story! I appreciate your honesty and concern. You are absolutely right about pushing this more. I feel like everyone around me thinks I'm a hypochondriac, but I know I'm not. Even if nothing is wrong with my heart (I'm praying its fine) I still know *something* is wrong and it is most definitely not stress or anxiety. It's just not. These are not symptoms that should be overlooked or dismissed in any way. My aunt (dads sister) is very knowledgable about doctors and heart issues because she actually is a hypochondriac and goes to doctors all the time for various reasons. Once I get this insurance in order, I'm going to ask her for the names of a good cardiologist who will not brush me off because of my age. I hope you are doing well and I hope your recovery is going good. Thanks again for getting back to me :-)
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97628_tn?1204465633
My dad also had his first heart attack at 37. He had a fatal MI in his early 40's. I am fine as far as CAD  is concerned though I have extremely mild congenital structural issues likely inherited from my mothet's side.

Due to that inconsequential valve issue I do see a cardiologist on occasion and he looked at my family history, was "alarmed" and had me undergo CT screening for calicum deposits in my heart. I didn't want to because insurance didn't cover that test ( don't quite blame them either) and I knew my heart was fine LOL, but because he thought it necessary, I forked out the 400 bucks and came back with a calcium score of ZERO.

Complete waste of money.  Still mad.  

My father had ergegious habits. He ate high fat foods, he smoked, he drank quite a bit when younger and he took a toll on his heart.

I have noticed that it is very common for people to fixate on things like family history and develop a focus on an aspect of health that they are not themselves threatened by and never let it go.  There are a lot of possible reasons for your having symptoms, hopefully a harmless one will be uncovered  by your testing.

If something hurts when you move sounds more like something muscle related? Anxiety is clearly a possible factor , and in the scheme of things, might be the most influential one.

Thoroughly read  your insurance plan info because if your history/ exam does not indicate a need for a particular test many insurers will not cover it.

Good luck with your testing.
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I posted to you the other day but it went to poofland :)

I am sorry to hear of your symptoms and stress caused by them. It is most true that women do not have the same symptoms of a heart attack as men, but I don't think your pains are cardiac related. That is very hard for me to tell someone on this forum, but I am going by the **&&^ statistics :) , which I personally hate.

I think that you are fixated on heart disease as your extreme family history is frightful, but not uncommon. Mine is really bad also. I am one in a long line to prove it.

There are many things that can cause your symptoms, such as damage to a spinal nerve, as far as the shoulder pain, collar bone and armpit. Lymph system infections and/or drainage problems can cause these pains. I agree with Nancy that you should have a mammogram.

My best friend died of lung cancer and his first symptom was that his left shoulder hurt him. The tumor was in his left lung.

You said you were overweight. How much overweight are you? This is important for me (us) to know in order to help you. Obesity can interfere with your breathing. Add a good bit of anxiety and presto, you have SOB. Being out of shape and obese can in and of itself cause SOB.

You also know that this is bad for your heart. I am overweight also by about 20 lbs. I am going to try to lose it. As a matter of fact, I am getting into some kind of shape for bypass surgery around 9/21. I have an evaluation on 9/18 and 9/19, and my 10th cardiac catheterization on the 20th. I hope to have the minimally invasive kind of bypass surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.

I think you should see your family doc and let him refer you to the right specialist. Seems that is all my family doc does nowadays :)

Hope you get some answers soon,

Jack
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Avatar_n_tn
Your post is so informative.   I have chest discomfort and classic "women" signs of heart disease for at least a year and a half.  I have seen four cardiologists with my last workup being done at the Mayo Clinic in February.  Nothing of significance can be found.  What really caught me about your post was the fist through the spine.  I can't tell you how many times I have said that exact same thing.  I have had numerous EKG's, 2 stress tests, 4 echo's, 4 chest xrays, 3 chest CT's, a CT-Angiogram and a stress-MRI (where they injected me with adenosine--not fun).  While I am truly glad there has been nothing significant found, I am very concerned about my symptoms.  I really have no other symptoms.  One of the doctors on here suggest that the pure chronic nature of this discomfort (which is chest, armpit, left arm, neck and jaw and back discomfort.  oh yeah, and horrible heartburn not relieved by ANYTHING) would lead them to believe it is not cardiac in nature.  That makes sense given my test results but yet, nothing else is found.  I've seen many other docs.  The only thing found in blood work is a high WBC, high CRP (I know, another heart flag!) and a low mean platelet volume.  Everything else is fine.

It is a nagging concern when these symptoms occur (regularly-yesterday and today bad) that I need to see a doc.  Then I am reminded by my mounting mountain of medical bills that I HAVE seen a doctor, many, many of them.  I would like to believe that this is something else but haven't figured that out yet.

Anyway, thanks for posting and I'm glad you are well.  I will definitely print this out and take it with me if I get up the courage to see cardio #5.
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Thanks for writing back Jack! I am very overweight. I am 5'4 and pretty well over 200lbs. I know that is not contributing anything positive to my health and I have been trying for a long time to get it in order but I keep falling off the wagon. I seem to have successfully learned how to maintain my weight which is actually an accomplishment for me because for as long as I can remember, I have just constantly gained. I do eat healthy and I eat very modest sized portions but I know I do not exercise nearly enough. I also think I eat too many carbs. Granted they're all healthy carbs like multigran whole wheat pasta and breads and heart healthy cereals and oatmeal but I think I have too much of that in a day. I think if I cut the portions back a little more (and cut back on carbs) and start getting into a more rigorous exercise routine, I'll continue to lose. I've lost 30lbs so far and will continue for sure. Although being overweight may contribute to me getting winded faster than if I were in a normal weight range, I don't think it would have made me feel short of breath just lying in my bed or sitting in a chair doing absolutely nothing.  It was just a totally abnormal feeling for me. The breathing has gone back to normal for the most part, but sometimes I feel like I have to make myself take a deep breath and sometimes it feels like the breath just gets lost somewhere in my throat rather than filling my lungs. I have also been feeling like I have to yawn frequently, but my body won't allow me to. I'll try and what ends up happening is I feel the yawn get stuck in my throat and won't go any further than that. Its' very odd.

I am very sorry to hear about your friend. My grandma died of lung cancer too when she was in her 50's. She was a smoker (not a very heavy one though) and was around smokers her entire life. I've been trying to think of other possible explanations other than my heart and have recently become concerned with something of that nature, but I had chest xrays done in 2 hospitals and had a full body catscan and the doctors didnt see anything.

A few years ago when I was shoveling some very heavy wet snow, I hurt my lower back pretty badly. Every once in a while if I am doing a lot of lifting or am very tired, I'll feel a twinge in my back, but it's a different kind of pain than the kind I've been feeling in the upper left side of my back. I do crack my own neck and back every day (multiple times a day) so I have been starting to wonder if maybe that may have something to do with the twinges I feel in my arms and collar bone.  I'm still very uneasy with the pain in my back when I breathe in and how I felt for that whole week. It wasnt just the shortness of breath, it was a combination of everything I felt like the immense fatigue and extreme dizziness and lightheadedness. I could barely function. I really hope nothing is seriously wrong with me, but whatever has been causing these symptoms that seem to come and go, I really hope they can find out what it is and arent missing anything. Hopefully the GP will be able to figure it out or at least send me to the right specialist. Thanks again for getting back to me and good luck with your upcoming surgery! I hope everything goes smoothly for you.
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Hi there....Have you ever thought about having a sleep study done.  It is possible that you could have sleep apnea, I know from personal experience that bad sleep affects you terribly.  I recently had a study done and will be going back to get fitted with a machine that forces oxygen down your nose (CPAP).  My father has had one of these sleeping machines for 20 years and it made a huge difference in his life and I am hoping it will help me too.  Don't stress too much over your dad's problems, they were his problems and it doesn't mean that you will have the same ones.  The fact that you are eating healthy foods and a nonsmoker is a great thing.  One test you could have is a 64 slice heart CT, this test usually shows a lot of information.  I think it costs around 500 bucks and is totally noninvasive.  I am so sorry to hear about the hospital bills, that must be very stressful.  I recently added up my medical bills and so far I am up to $124,000 and still counting, I am so thankful that I have insurance.  It is not fair that a person with no insurance has to pay the full amount while insurance companies pay a fraction of the total and try to deny you at every turn.  I could rage forever about American healthcare system, will save you all from it.  LOL  

Anyway...good luck to you!
Jill
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I was feeling much better for a while but the last day or so I started feeling weird again. Today I'm lightheaded and I'm struggling to breathe in deep. I also keep trying to yawn but it won't go anywhere. It just gets caught in my throat and won't fill my lungs. I've been feeling for a few days like I've been struggling to get satisfying breaths. If I try too hard to breathe deep, I feel a strain or a tightness and a slight pain near my collar bone or under my breast, like at the top of my ribs on the left side. Throughout the day today I've been getting random sharp pains that dont last long, but are frequent. I've been feeling twinges on the left side of my collar bone and both arms. I'm not stressed or anxious about anything so I doubt that's whats going on.  This is going out on a limb here but could it be possible that me getting/having my period could have anything to do with this? I don't see why it would but I started feeling this way exactly this time last month and got my period a few days later. I felt almost completely back to normal (minus the back pain which I still have) a day or so after my period. Now it's starting up again and I'm getting my period again soon. It could just be a coincidence but I'm just trying to make sense of whats been going on with me since no one else seems to think anything is wrong.
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You said " I also keep trying to yawn but it won't go anywhere." This is so strange because for the last month or so, I go into a long lasting yawn. I cannot explain it other than my ears hear much more of what I am saying and I can bearly hear others!!!! Here come the guys in white.....

Have you ever had or thought about pleurisy? It is very painful when you try to take a deep breath. You probably need a chest x-ray for sure. I hope you get much better and hope that you do not go into a permanent yawn :)

Jack
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I know how you feel. I had a panic attack 3 months ago which lead me to this forum. My grandfather died at 49 from a bad heart and my uncle on the same side of the family had a heart attack at 48 but he is alive. My dad is 47 and so far nothing so i have been freaking out about my heart since the attack. I have been to the ER/Cardio had a stress test done been to few other doctors and they all said i am fine expect my cholesterol which is high. I also get chest pains and people tell me its just heart burn but it isnt. My pains are around the breastbone and off to my left side around my nipple. they pain feels like somoene is pushing into my bone and it comes and goes. I am now seeing a shrink because after all these tests they cant find anything wrong with me and they also said its in my head soooo i have nothing to loose by seeing somoene. And i dont feel lilke i am stressed or anxious either but i was told that your subconscience can make you have pain and the pain is real but your mind is causing it. BUT I feel like you i am freaked out that something is wrong but i cant believe i would be having a heart attack for 3 months and still be walking around with chest pain but not short of breath. Also i dont know if this helps but if you think your heart is giving you problems when you feel the pain try and do some jumping jacks i dont think you would be able to do many of them if you were having a heart attack. Also i am 24 years old. Hope some of this info helps...
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