Pediatric Heart Expert Forum
Possible Heart Problem
About This Forum:

Questions in this forum are answered by pediatric cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and anesthesiologists from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This forum is for questions and support about pediatric heart problems, symptoms and topics such as heart murmurs, palpitations, fainting, chest pain, congenital heart defects (including management and intervention), fetal cardiology, adult congenital cardiology, arrhythmias and pre-participation athletic screening.

Font Size:
A
A
A
Background:
Blank
Blank
Blank
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Blank Blank

Possible Heart Problem

Hello I am 16 years old and sometimes I feel a chest discomfort, sometimes I have chest pains, and sometimes it is a sqeezing pain in the chest, or even sometimes it is a tight feeling. Also I have had this pain since the summer of 2008, and it seems like it has got worse ever since, the first time that I ever experienced this pain it was in my left arm, and it hurt very badly for a couple of hours, and then got better for almost a month, and then finally it comes back again, but lately it has been happening more frequently  then it did last summer when I first started to experience this pain or discomfort. Now  the pain is in both arms and it is sometimes in my neck and even jaw. This pain in my arms is like a shooting pain at different places in my arm.This may sound like a heart problem to you but the tricky part is that I have been tested, I have had a EKG, and at least two blood test, and everything has always came back to be normral on any test that I have had done in my entire life. Do you think that this is a heart problem that the test is not picking up, or do you think that this is nothing to worry about? I am over weight I weigh about 240 pounds, and do not exercise frequently, but have been trying to do more exercise over the last Month or so, to try to lose some weight.  What do you think that I need to do, do I need to go see more doctors, or should I not worry about the pain that I have been having over the past 1 year. Also do you think that this is a Heart Attack that is about to happen, and is it possible for someone my age to experience a Heart Attack. Also do you think that it could be Arteries that are my problem, can plaque build up in Arteries over 16 years, I have very bad eatting habbits, the main place that I have eatten at my entire life has been somewhere like McDonald's or Wendy's, or Krystal, pretty much all of the fast food places, please respond to me as quickly as possible, I NEED AN ANSWER!!!
Related Discussions
773637_tn?1327450515
Dear WXMAN,

The symptoms that you are describing really do sound like they are coming from your heart, despite the negative testing.  One possible reason for this is coronary artery vasospasm, also called Prinzmetal’s angina.  The coronary arteries (the arteries that feed the heart) spasm down and decrease blood flow to the heart for a short time, then open up again.  In the meantime, the heart starves for oxygen and nutrients and can have damage to, or even death of, its muscle cells.  Intake of fatty foods, like you report, can make the coronary arteries more likely to do this; based on what you are reporting, between your intake, your weight, and your lack of exercise, your cholesterol is likely elevated.  I would imagine that your blood pressure is likely elevated, as well.  These are just a couple of the major risk factors for the development of coronary artery disease.  And, yes, although an actual heart attack (myocardial infarction) in adolescence is rare, coronary artery changes can and do occur at the age of 16.  This was proven in autopsy studies from back in the Vietnam War.

So, what do you need to do?  First, you need to see a pediatric cardiologist and have an evaluation to see if this truly is a cardiac problem.  If your heart is cleared by the cardiologist AND you are allowed to exercise, you need to make a real decision.  Do you want to keep going the way you are and have a significantly elevated risk for dying young, or do you want to turn this around?  The good news about this is that, especially at your age, it is totally reversible.  However, it is a permanent lifestyle change.  Diets do not work, as most people do them for a while, fully or partially achieve some target weight, and then go back to their old ways.  You need to make lifelong modifications to your diet and exercise.  Dietary changes include elimination of fast food, fried food, fatty food, and sodas; eating more fruits and vegetables; decreasing dairy fat content to skim or fat-free; using baking, broiling, or steaming for cooking (not frying); and, above all, smaller portion sizes.  A portion size is the size of the palm of your hand, and you only get firsts (no seconds/thirds).  Exercise interventions include doing aerobic exercise (walking, running, swimming, bicycling, basketball, etc.) for 60 minutes on a daily basis.  Based on your physical condition, I would recommend not starting out exercising for 60 minutes at a time, but working up to it over time.  I would also suggest that you make exercise something enjoyable, such as doing activities that you like, or doing it with a friend; you don’t want it to be “just a chore,” because you won’t be likely to keep doing it.

Your statement, I NEED AN ANSWER, as well as your propensity to eat fast foods, suggests to me that you are somewhat impatient and want things quickly.  You need to know that your weight loss and body changes WILL NOT occur quickly.  Think about how long it took you to get to your present weight—it will likely take that long for you to get to a more appropriate weight and stay there.  I will say, though, that your ability to recognize the fact that your weight, lack of exercise, and fast food intake as being unhealthy is definitely in your favor.

Finally, it is certainly possible that this chest pain is not due to your heart.  Most chest pain in children and teenagers is chest wall pain and not cardiac in nature.  However, the risk factors that you mention in combination with the description of your symptoms are quite worrisome, and need both short- and long-term attention.
Blank
Continue discussion Blank
This Forum's Experts
773637_tn?1327450515
Jeffrey R Boris, M.D.Blank
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA
Blank
Request an Appointment
MedHelp Health Answers
Blank
Weight Tracker
Weight Tracker
Start Tracking Now
RSS Expert Activity
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Control Emotional Eating with this ...
Sep 04 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Emotional Eating Control: How to St...
Aug 28 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
233488_tn?1310696703
Blank
New Cannabis Article from NORTH Mag...
Jul 20 by John C Hagan III, MD, FACS, FAAOBlank