I am a 29 year old male. I have in the last six months begun to feel a slight dull pain, almost like a small cramp right on the far left side of my chest after I eat. Although I have read several places where that is a common sign of a potentially serious heart problem, my age and lifestyle don't match the typical patient with a heart problem. I exercise 3-5 times per week very strenuously and never feel any pain during or after exercise, even my most intense cardio routines. My exercise is 90% of the time either competitive volleyball, weight lifting, and cardio/circuit training. I've always exercised and remained active and my diet is relatively good. I don't smoke, and I drink 1-2 alcoholic drinks probably 3-4 times per week, usually red wine. I'm 6'2" 210lbs, probably 12% body fat. I do have an uncle who had heart problems, but he is 70 years old, and my father recently had a heart problem at 58 years old. The pain hasn't worsened over the last six months, but it hasn't improved either, and it is only after a meal (within 30 minutes typically), and always goes away within 15 minutes or so. Is this something I need to get checked out or is there something else I can do to pin down the problem? I feel too young and healthy to be really concerned, but I don't want to be that idiot who has something serious happen because he didn't go get it checked out.
Very unlikely it is your heart given your age, the fact that you take 1-2 medicinal drinks of alcohol which is beneficial to the heart and you exercise and dont smoke. You exercise and 12% bf means you dont have diabetes most likely.
Except for picking the wrong parents (family history), you dont have any risk factors.
If you walked into my laboratory with your profile, Id bet you a quarter that you dont have it, even eat my hat if you did.
But if you are stressed out, then a stress is mainly givng piece of mind and chest pain will get you there, thats the magic words to get you into a stress lab.
But, it would be very unlikely given your stats and symptoms that it is anything but your gizzard causing the problem.
If you can do all that exercise without any discomfort in the chest and no breathing problems, I doubt whether the oxygen demand for digestion would cause a problem for the heart. It takes a lot more energy to do the activities you mention than to digest your meal. It sounds like a stomach problem. maybe stubborn trapped wind.
I appreciate the comments. I tried to make some room in my mind for the possibility of a stomach problem (I see GERD thrown around a lot in chest pain forums) but it just seems weird that it is always in the same place and that place happens to be exactly where my heart is. I have two nurse friends who have both worked on cardiac floors at a good sized hospital, and they both told me that if I walked into the ER or a doctor's office the doctors most likely wouldn't pay me much attention because of my fitness level and age, which is why I thought I'd try here first. Another minor detail is that I was laid off last year and am working part time while going back to school, and cannot afford health insurance, so I don't need to go to the doctor unless I REALLY need to go. Again, I appreciate the comments. Anyone know how much a stress test costs? Does the doctor have to recommend it or can I request one? Thanks again.
I would seriously forget the stress test. If you can perform that level of exercise with no discomfort, that's all the stress test will confirm. It sounds very much like a muscular issue to me. When we exercise, our muscles get warm and pain lessens. I pulled a chest muscle at work once which involved lots of lifting. A couple of hours after work the pain was a continual dull ache and no matter what position I sat in, it wouldn't go away. As soon as I started work, the pain suddenly disappeared. The trouble is, you have to rest a muscle for it to heal quickly, I had that muscle problem for many months because as fast as it tried to heal, I was pulling the muscle fibres again. In the end, rather than showers, I laid in a hot bath for half an hour and then went to bed. This got rid of it in a couple of weeks. There are a lot of muscles in the chest area as you know and it can be very confusing and scary if you pull one of them.
One other thing to keep in mind, cardiac pain is not usually isolated to one area, it is more of a difusse pain felt over a broad area with no real point of origin. Also, pains that reocccor over weeks is normally not cardiac in nature either.
Below are the atypical chest pain guidleines from the NHI;
Atypical Chest Pain Not Suggestive of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
Appears also at rest
Exercise tolerance is good despite pain
Continues for hours or days
Is associated with breathing or chest wall movements
Is sharp in character
Is displaced laterally towards the apex
May be felt on palpation
Is experienced as palpitations or occasional ectopic beats
Is felt in the upper abdominal region or below the left costal arch
Is not relieved with glyceryl trinitrate within a few minutes
Again I really appreciate all of your comments. They are very helpful in helping me understand what's going on. Another small update, which will probably confirm more of what you all have said so far... - Yesterday after eating a good-sized meal (which is when the pain always seems to occur) I decided I would try to make it worse if I could by running WHILE my food was digesting and the pain was there. So 30 min after my meal, once the pain started, I hopped on my treadmill and ran roughly 1.5mi. at one minute intervals of (on a 2% incline) 6mph-7mph-6mph-8mph-6mph-9mph-6mph-7mph-8mph-8mph-6mph followed by a walk, and I felt no change whatsoever. The pain didn't increase at all, but I could still feel that tightness. I had no problems breathing and actually felt great afterwards. So I can say it definitely did not go away with exercise, and definitely did not get any worse. So I guess my next and probably last question would be...if it's not my heart, what is it? It's too high and too far to the left in my chest to be digestive I think, so my last thought is that if it's something that happens when my stomach is full, perhaps it has something to do with the pressure that my (full) stomach is exerting on whatever is above my stomach that is causing the pain? Again it is a very specific spot; within one inch every time, very deep and very near where my heart is. Any comments are greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
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