sudden onset of chest tightness and trouble taking deep breath
I am a 24 year old male. I stay in good shape and do physical work. About a week ago I felt a tightness in my chest right over my sternum. When I try to take a deep breath, it feels like it just stops. I can only draw a deep breath once in a while or if I suddenly gasp for air towards the end. There has also been a mild pain/burning feeling. When I lie down I can breath a lot better, but not regularly. I have tried the Primatine Mist inhaler as I used to get mild bronchitis when I was younger. It seemed to help the first time or two, then nothing. I can still go about my daily schedule, just with lots of discomfort. I worry a lot about this though, as there is a history of haert attacks on my fathers side of my family. Plus I believe I suffer from anxiety and stress. i am not sure what to do next. I would prefer not to go to a doctor if I don't need to. Also, sometimes there's a burning feeling or a sharp pain.
At age 24 and in "good shape" and performing "physical work", heart disease is very unlikely to be the cause of your pain, even given your family history of heart attacks. In addition, the character of the pain, as described by you is not typical of heart disease, including coronary artery disease. Nevertheless, a sharp, persistent pain over the sternum, seemingly related to deep breaths, should not be ignored.
There are many potential causes of such pain, including muscular strain, upper gastrointestinal disorders such as esophageal reflux disease (GERD), inflammation of the lining that surrounds the heart, called the pericardium, partial lung collapse and pleurisy to name but a few. The potentially most serious cause of such unfamiliar pain would be an abnormality of one of the so-called "great blood vessels", or pulmonary hypertension.
While it is very unlikely that you would have such a serious problem, such happenings are not unheard of and, for that reason, you should see your doctor and have a chest x-ray to be interpreted by a radiologist.
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