My son is 17 years old and has complained about heart pains for a while now. He has normal blood pressure and our local doctor says he is fine. However, he says that he gets pains that last up to twenty seconds, that he can feel his heart pounding, and that it feels like part of his heart is being squeezed between his ribs. The pain just seems to come on on its own and varies in intesity. Any ideas what this is about?
Dear psycho60: Chest pain is a common complaint in children and adolescents. Interestingly, many report it as “heart pain” but it is uncommonly related to the heart. Most chest pain in young people is non-cardiac in origin, and is more likely to be musculoskeletal (a type of “growing pain”), gastrointestinal or pulmonary in nature. Brief pain (less than a minute, as in your son’s case) is unlikely to be cardiac pain. It is important to know if: 1) it occurs with exercise or at rest, 2) if the pain is changed (better or worse) with motion or breathing, 3) if he has a normal cardiac exam, 4) if there is a family history of heart disease in people under the age of 50 years. Sometimes the “pounding” of the heart rate is an increase in heart rate as a normal response to pain. It is good that your doctor has checked him out, and feels that things are well. You can ask your doctor about getting an electrocardiogram (EKG) if that has not been done.
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