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Chest Heaviness

Posted by Mark on June 30, 1999 at 09:34:36

I am a 41 year old male, 6'2", 210lbs-no family history of CAD.  I execise regularly and do not drink or smoke.  I experienced some heaviness/fullness in the direct center of my chest twice over the last week.  The events lasted up to 6 hours and occurred while at rest(I wasn't exercising).  I went to the ER and was admitted for chest pain observation. Tests: normal enymes, resting EKG, stress EKG- I ran through level 4 with heart beat to 180 without discomfort.  Attending physician said the test was normal and I was released.  Should I see a cardiologist and if so, which testing should I have to continue to rule out problems?

Posted by CCF CARDIO MD - CRC on June 30, 1999 at 14:37:24
Dear  Mark,
There are many causes of chest pain.  The one that doctors worry about the most is cardiac because it has the potential to be life-threatening.  Once this is ruled out the work-up can proceed at a more leisurely pace.
Amongst the cardiac causes of chest pain are: ischemia (due to blockages - including both stable and unstable angina and acute heart attack and coronary artery spasm), pericarditis (inflammation of the sack around the heart), myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), cardiomyopathy (heart failure) and rarer causes such as coronary artery dissection, acute rupture of the heart and valves and infections of the pericardium.
Gastrointestinal causes of chest pain include reflux (acid from the stomach washing back into the esophagus), gallstones, esophageal spasm, esophageal rupture, varicose veins of the esophagus, strictures of the esophagus, tumors of the esophagus and other less common GI problems.
Pulmonary (lung) causes include pneumonia, pulmonary embolus, pneumothorax, pleuritis and bleb rupture.
Other potential causes are aortic dissection, back and spine problems and musculoskeletal (muscle strain, rib fracture, etc.).
Psychological causes of chest pain are common and include panic attacks, anxiety, stress and mental duress.
As you can see the list of potential causes in long and may take a little bit of time to determine the precise cause.  A good Internal Medicine doctor should be able to work through the potential causes of your symptoms and refer you to a cardiologist if needed.
I hope you find this information useful.  Information provided in the heart forum is for general purposes only.  Only your physician can provide specific diagnoses and therapies.  Please feel free to write back with additional questions.
If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at www.ccf.org/heartcenter.  The Heart Center website contains a directory of the cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your cardiac problem.

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