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What is causing my chest discomfort?
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What is causing my chest discomfort?

I am a 31 year old healthy female.  I am about 50 pounds overweight.  I do not smoke and have lost 20 pounds in the last 2 months be eating healthier and walking about 1 hr. everyday. I had my first child on Nov. 14, 2000 and my father died very unexpectedly on Dec. 22. I have had a fairly difficult time coming to terms with his death. After his death, I began having chest discomfort (some tightness, etc.) and then developed panic attacks.  I have been to 4 doctors and 1 cardiologist.  I had a regular stress test done and when the EKG showed a possible blockage-related abnormality, I did a Thallium stress test.  This test showed no blockages and I was cleared for heart related problems; the cardiologist said that there is a high false positive for abnormal EKG's for women my age.  Unfortunately, my chest discomfort has continued.  When my chest discomfort occurs, it lasts for hours upon hours.  Somedays, I don't have it at all.  Also, it is tender and somewhat sore to the touch when it occurs...when I press on the given area where my chest is hurting, it is tender and a bit sore. I have also noticed that when I press on my chest, my left arm tingles and has a funny sensation, somewhat painful.   At one point, my family physician thought gastric reflux could be causing the pain, but the Prevacid I am taking doesn't seem to be helping. I am also on Xanax for the panic attacks.  I have also noticed in the past few weeks that sometimes my heart will skip a beat and/or feel like it is jumping up in my throat.  I think these are called PVCs or PACs and can be brought on by stress, but are they dangerous? I've never had them before that I can remember.  Could my Dad's death and/or just having a child make these occur?  My main concern is the chest discomfort...could I have a pulled/strained/torn muscle or ligament in my chest wall that could be causing the chest discomfort?  One day when I took 600 mg of Ibuprofen for a headache, I noticed it helped the chest discomfort some.  Thank you for taking the time to read my question.  This chest discomfort has been a big nuisance and I am tired of having it and just want to find out what is truly causing it.

Kristy Cossich
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Kristy,

It is very interesting that the ibuprofen helped relieve the chest pain.  This would be consistent with a musculoskeletal source of the pain, particularly given the negative thallium and GI evaluation.  Panic attacks can cause chest pain and the death of your father could contribute towards this.  I would discuss with your doctor the possibility of taking a course of regular NSAIDS for musculoskeletal pain.  I would continue the prevacid during NSAID treatment as they may cause gastric irritation.  Xanax may help panic attacks in the short term but should probably be avoided over the long term.  A serotonin reuptake inhibitor such as Zoloft is a better chronic medication for panic in my opinion.
15 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Have you ruled out Esophageal spasms?  They can last for hours and radiate just like angine pain, to the jaw,neck and left arm too.  Look back a bit towards the last few days where some of us mention Costocondritis.  Its inflammation of the rib cartalidge and can be exacerbated by stress, lifting a baby repeatedly, and turning and sitting hunched forward....Leave an email address on here so I may mail you a link specifically on new mothers and costocondritis..Best of luck, btdt and know your pain!
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Hi Kristy,
    I can relate to your chest discomfort. After my Gynecologist
performed a laproscopy to determine my pelvic pain, the carbon
dioxide gas which the doctor uses to inflate the pelvic cavity
caused me to have alot of chest pain. After so many routine
heart tests like what you had, the doctors detemined my chest
discomfort was musculoskeletal even though I do have a
serious heart condition involving the aorta in my heart. When
I took 600 mg. of Ibuprofen or Codeine, I found my chest pain
to subside slightly but as soon as the medication wore off, my
chest discomfort would return. The chest pain was really
painful, like an ache in between the ribs of my chest and where
my ribs joined the sternum in my rib cage. I discovered that
the drug, Celebrex helped with my chest pain even though I do
not have arthritis and as a young woman in my early 40s, I
exercise regularly and eat healthy. The only thing that helped
me was a prescription from my medical doctor for Loratab, a
common pain reliever, and time. It's been several years now,
since my chest pain started and the pain isn't so severe in my
ribcage. Only when I do anything with strenuous exertion and
lifting, I will experience chest discomfort and I always keep
a prescription refill for the Loratab for such occasion. It took
me a long time and alot of costly doctor visits which only told
me my gastric reflux was normal, my heart is okay and I am not
bothered by anxiety. My only salvation was to learn to live with
the chest pain with the aid of pain medication and over time,
it has become less and less.
Sorry, to hear of the death of your father and although, that is
a great loss to bear, I don't believe it should cause you any
chest pain. Enjoy that new little life you just brought into
the world.
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Thank you for your replies!  I am so glad I found this forum.  It is comforting to know you are not alone and that others have had similar experiences.  VICTORIA:  My email is ***@**** and I would love to have the link to the info!  Thank you Zsa Zsa for sharing your experience also.  It mirrors my pain SO much!!  I will mention the Celebrex and the other medication to my doctor today when I go for my checkup.  Again, thank you all for your help!

Kristy
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi!  I don't have chest discomfort that is painful, but it is strange.  I take 1/2 of an Atenolol for anxiety-induced palpitations and high blood pressure (in the doctor's office) and Prevacid for heartburn.   Lately, I find that when I awake, I feel what I can only describe as a vibration in my chest.  It's not real strong, and it comes and goes.  When it stops, I feel as if my heart isn't beating.  Obviously it is, but it's a strange feeling.  Has anyone ever felt anything like this?  Once I am up and about, I no longer feel it.  I never have problems running up and down stairs, or being out of breath.  It's just puzzling.  Thanks for any input!
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I am a 27 year old male.  I have chest discomfort that starts almost like heartburn, but it becomes nearly unbearable at night.  I would relate this discomfort to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux); however, I can have this pain without any food. Also I wake up very tired and the pain that accompanies the chest pain often goes into my teeth.  I've heard the pain in the teeth can be symptomatic of a heart attack.  I think I have a combination of reflux and sleep apnea.  Last week I woke up gasping for breath and didn't have any chest pain, but I'm worried about the apnea causing further cardiac damage.  The chest pain is something I can't put a finger on... it's not totally reflux, it feels too much like cardiac pain for me to think it is totally GI related.  The chest pain does not occur during the day, and it does not occur during exercise.  I have anxiety problems (sleeping, etc) at night, and this chest pain seems to occur then.  

Any response to this (similar syptomatology, etc) would be appreciated.
thanks, dexter
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For so long I have thought I was crazy because the vibrations in my chest would wake me up. I could not take my pulse for fear I didn't have one. I would walk around and tell myself of course I was alive. Five years ago I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, but I have been taking verapamil. Until recently I had very few symptoms, but now even during the day my body feels tingly and I just don't feel right. My cardiologist says it has nothing to do with my heart, but I hate feeling this way all the time. Maybe it's old age as I am 50.
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Avatar_f_tn
Mary Linda -- your symptoms sound like mine, although I am taking the "whole enchilada" of my whopping 25mg atenolol a day but find that it helps with those stress-induced pvcs (although I get them for no apparent reason as well -- it makes me insane!)  But I wanted to post you because the vibrating, twitchy thing only really started for me once I began taking the beta-blocker and here is my wacky theory:  the beta-blocker is doing its job in cutting down on the number of receptor cells that are misfiring and causing the pvcs, but it can't obviously "cure" our problem (particularly at low doses which we are on), so what might have been a pvc (which can be a very forceful thing) emerges as a "quiver."  I have had some that have really freaked me out also, and I of course begin to think that my heart is going to keep on just "vibrating" and fail to beat.  But, as you say, moving around, coughing, etc. "snaps" it out.  Well, my 2 cents worth!  ***@**** if you want to chat further about this weirdness.
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Thanks Chris McG and J Marie for your posts.  It helps when others are going through similar experiences.  Makes you feel not so alone!  Thanks again!
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks so much to chris mcg and j.marie for their posts.  It helps so much when others share similar situations.  Makes you feel not so alone!  Good luck on your trials and tribs!
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Avatar_n_tn
I was wondering if anyone has this happen to them, it's like some type of heart palpitations.  I get ekg's done every so often and they never show anything.  I'm 36 and not overweight and pretty much healthy. This has been happening for years.
My symptoms are all of a sudden my heart will just start beating like crazy, very very fast and then I feel a pressure in my throat and then my throat tickles and I have to cough.
I also cannot move or talk or breathe while this happens and it only lasts a few seconds.  I am extremely light-headed after this happens.  Very often the left side of my chest hurts and/or feels tight, it's very uncomfortable- but not necessarily while the palpitations are happening, it's just usually there.  

My doctor told me there is a muscle by the heart that will spasm from too much caffeine and that I should cut my caffeine intake and see if that helps. I don't drink that much caffeine, just some coffee in the morning but I did it and I didn't notice a difference.  

Does anyone have any comments on this?

Thanks!!
Linda
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Avatar_n_tn
not chest discomfort but severe chest pain!!!!!! i have been putting up with this pain off and on for 7 years. the pain has increased from 1 to 3 days, to 3 days to 2 weeks. i have had a stress test and echo about 5 years ago. i just had another stress and echo done, also i had a heart catherization. everything is showing normal except for a mild lv. regurgitation. the pain is so severe i usually go to the er. and end up getting alot of demorol. it's the only thing that helps. pain pill after pain pill does nothing for the pain. i also have fibromyalgia. after blatently being called a drug addict for going to the er. for this by the er. doc. i have decided the humiliation, anger, resentment, and frustration of this accusation is not worth going. the pain is severe enough, that i can hardly deal with this abusive treatment from the doctor as well. the pain is real, it is severe, and it can come on at any time, with exerction, or rest. all i know is i can't live like this much longer. so many times all i can do is lay down and cry and pray. i just don't know whether to pray to die or live. the pain feels like it is my heart, it radiates through my back and all down my shoulder and arm, the pain is just as severe in my left elbow as it is in my chest. my circulation feels as though it is completly cut off. this year has been the worst since the pain now lasts many more days than usual. i have 3 children and a wonderful supporting loving boyfriend. i was divorced 2 yrs. ago. i now have more desire to live life to the fullest, but can now only do very little. i have a good paying job, but have been on temp. disability mostly since jan. i just found out that i have been denyed and dis. benefits through my job since the heart tests came back normal. i have not had hardly any money since i have not worked and will not recieve back pay for this reason. i applied for ssi. since i could not work 5 out of 10 years, can not apply for disability. i also only had about 300 dollars in the last 6 mos. for child support. i not only have a major pain in the chest and left arm, i also have a major pain in the ___ from my insurance co. if i did'nt have my kids and my boyfriend i would have nothing to live for. any advice would be greatly appreciated. thank you for your time. sincerely gin
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Avatar_n_tn
Could you please email me more information on Costocondritis. I think this may be my problem as well. I can actually hear something clicking. I had an injury years ago and every now and then seem to get it back again. I have it bad now, I had a cough for months and also have a 3 year old son. The discomfort, breathlessness etc. during pregnancy was really awful and none of the doctors could help. They just think you are nuts!!!

***@****
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear all

im a 39 year male, none smoker,6"2 89kg, over the pasted 4 months i have had chest pain. The pain is not very painful but worrying it comes and goes sometime in the day and night...I also feel very cold all the time, feet and hands I was wondering if I was over training. I have been to my doctors she said that my cold feet and hands is just me? has tested my heart and BP 140/83 at rest 125/61 I also had a ecg in January before the pain came...I have also notice when I move to the left the pain is very painful.......please help

Marc Tyner
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Avatar_n_tn
Have you had your thyroid checked? Its a simple blood test to see if your thyroid is working o.k. I went to the e.r. in 1998 after a day of my heart not slowing down, even though I  have had this since 1993, this one day it would not slow down, plus I have all the fluttering, anyway the first thing they did besides the cardiogram was a thyroid check. That as well can make you feel cold often. I know you didn't mention any arrythmias with your heart, which the thyroid could be a culprit, but it can make you feel cold as well.

Valerie.
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