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Continuous Crushing/Squeezing Sensation Around Heart
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Continuous Crushing/Squeezing Sensation Around Heart

A sick dog bit me in 2004 and three days I later developed severe cardiac symptoms. It took several years for me to relate these two events and for my doctor to test me for bartonella, which was positive.  For three years, I had a continuous crushing/squeezing sensation around my visceral heart, like a steel hand was squeezing it, and I have had it less frequently for the past year since I began taking antibiotics.  I also tested positive for Lyme, and am treating for both infections -- but bartonella-specific antibiotics such as Cipro and Rifampin are the ones that have helped my heart.

I was bedridden for the 3 years. My neck veins bulged, I felt a global sense of not getting oxygen to my tissues, and I was found to have markedly low cardiac output on a test called the Impedance Cardiograph. The extreme crushing/squeezing sensation, around my visceral heart (not the chest wall or ribs or lungs), was severe all the time, and matched descriptions I have read of angina or heart attacks -- except it was constant and not episodic.  It got worse with any exertion or any attempt to be upright, even to elevate my head, and my heartrate was often fast.  Finally I began to recover with antibiotics, but my heart is still in bad shape.  My symptoms still worsen with slight exertion, but they are not as severe at rest.  I am in my 30s and a non-smoker.  

I had three abnormal or borderline abnormal EKGs and they all showed right bundle branch block among other things.  I understand this can be indicative of myocarditis.  When I finally recovered enough to go in for an echocardiogram, it showed only mild mitral and tricuspid regurgitation (this was after about 8 months of antibiotics though).  

Have you heard of a patient with heart symptoms like mine that were so debilitating and constant?  Does this seem like myocarditis or something else?  I live far from medical facilities and, due to my level of debilitation, have been unable to go in for further testing.
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After infections, specifically viral infections, myocarditis is a complication that can explain the symptoms.

This is normally diagnosed via an echocardiogram, so if the test you had was negative, repeating it can be considered.

I would consider a stress test at this time, to see if there is any blockages in the coronary arteries.  

If the symptoms continue, seeing a cardiologist at a major academic medical center can be considered.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin Pho, M.D.
KevinMD.com
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