Heart Disease Community
20.2k Members
Avatar universal

Chest pain/anxiety/GERD

I'm a 23 year old Male.  I'm not sure what to do at this point, perhaps considering my following story I can get some advice.  About three years ago I started having anxiety/panic attacks.  At first I didn't know what they were and got really scared.  Then a saw a few doctors and also found out that my mother suffered with the same thing when she was in her 20s.  My anxiety and panic attacked manifested themselves in a lot of physical symptoms, one that bothered me the most was chest pain/right/left/middle/pressure/tingling/left arm, you name it.  I went a cardiologist and ER in the past 2 years.  EKG, 24 hour heart monitor, blood test, xrays all came back normal, doctor told me I had a heart of an athlete, (maybe because I was lifting weights for 3 years or maybe she was only joking).  I finally made my way to a doctor and went on some antidepressants to help me manage my anxiety.  I feel much better and the anxiety pretty much gone.  The only thing I still have  is chest pain (but i don't feel anxious and not afraid of it anymore), (for example today I had a small cup of coffee and got a really bad pain/pressure in the middle of my chest - heart attack symptoms, even thought about going to the ER, but then decided that i was just fed up with it and no one can help me anyway).  Sometimes I get shortness of breath and chest pain after sex or exercise, sometimes I don't.  Docs tell me that there is nothing wrong with my heart.  My girlfriend is frustrated with me, my mother claims that its all nerves and that I'm making stuff up.  I'm in a lot of pain and discomfort, please advice on who should I see, what can i take, what can i possible have?

PS.  I also have GERD/stomach problems, i dont know if chest pressure can last for hours from a cup of coffee because of GERD??  Tums and baking soda don't seem to help.  Acupuncture maybe? Chiropractor?  I'm really lost.

Also, I have a horrible White Coat syndrome and my BP in the docs office is 160/100, when my mom takes it at home its 125/85,, no family history of heart problems.  
8 Responses
Avatar universal
Wow! This sounds EXACTLY like me.

I've had anxiety since July and although I am MUCH better now I still get it from time to time. I also have acid reflux which almost exactly relates to anxiety and is considered very similar. I just recently starting taking zantac everyday because I kept having a stomach ache everytime I woke up, and anytime I'd eat I'd feeling like vomitting. It was awful,but the pills have been great so far.

Anyways, about your chest pain.Oddly enough recently I've had the same problem! Breathing is fine and everything but in the mid upper part of my chest it's been hurting, mostly when I move a certain way, and especially when I touch it. It feels really sore too so I don't know if is possibly because I walked/jogged an hour a day before it happened or what not? I too also thought it may be from GERD, but im not too sure.

With you being cleared by the doctors as having a good healthy heart, and given a clean bill of health..that's great!

You say that after you drank coffee you had the chest pain? Gerd can definitely cause that. It's things like Coffee, Oily foods, Sweets, etc.. that always causes pain in the chest and stomache for those that have Acid Reflux. It presses up against the diaphragam making it feel painful.

Thing is does it go away after that or is it constant? If it's constant, with breathing problems *another symptom of GERD* than maybe just go to your Doc to make sure. It very well sounds like it's all going back to the reflux since you said it's after you had some coffee.

Anyways..If it's still going on check up with the Doc in case.

Also, anxiety/panic does cause chest pain as well. Even if you aren't scared when it happens. If it happens your entire body tenses up causing you pain everywhere.

Hope that helps and that you feel better.
Avatar universal
thanks for your reply.  I honestly don't know what is going one with me.  Seems like mix of anxiety and GERD.  At least I hope it is, because these two are not serious conditions.  I might try to go to a different doctor a get a second opinion, but honestly I'm fed up with doctors, they don't seem to know much more than I do.  It's a relief to know that I'm not alone and from searching the forum it looks like a lot of people are going thought a very similar thing.  I guess where my problem lies is I'm still not 100% convinced that there is nothing wrong with me, but i guess its a typical symptom of an anxiety disorder.  Also, I was thinking about a Holistic Clinic or an Acupuncturist, I'm a big supporter of all that stuff, but they don't take insurance :(.
Avatar universal
I too have been diagnosed with GERD and Anxiety/Panic Attacks.  I had an upper endoscopy, and it was fine.  However, I continue to have stomach problems.  The doctor gave me Prilosec and Pepcid, but they did not help.  I also tested positive for H. Pylori and was treated twice.  
When I have an episode, my heart races, and I burps a lot then I will hyperventilate and get numbness/tingling, etc.  For the past month or so, I started to drink apple cider vinegar, one table spoon in the morning before my breakfast, and one table spoon in the evening before my dinner.  It helps my GERD greatly, and I don't take any Prilosec or Pepcid.  Oddly enough, my PVCs/heart palpitations frequency reduces too.  I also take CoQ-10 (50 mg), magnesium (250mg) supplements, and digestive enzyme.  I don't know which one helps, but I'm willing to try it all.  If you want to try the apple cider vinegar mixture, here is how I mix it: one part vinegar (with mother - you can get the apple cider with mother in health food store, brand name is BRAGG), one part honey, and one part water.  Refrigerate the mixture.  When you drink, do it quick so it won't harm your teeth enamel.  
I hope you feel better.
Avatar universal
Wow that apple cider/vinegar really works eh? I've heard so many people talk about that being great.

I too have the same thing with my heart racing, and then constantly burping and even sometimes shortness of breath.

Since we are talking about GERD/Anxiety. I want to ask. Can GERD really cause your heart to race? I mean there are times about 10 minutes after I eat where my heart starts racing really fast, and then I have to calm myself down and about 20 minutes later im fine. It seriously makes me not want to eat. Recently it's gotten much better, but like a month ago it was bad and I didn't want to eat due to the fear of my hr going up, and in return I started losing weight..not cool.

I'm taking Zantac now and it's really helped. Still though, I often wake up with a stomach ache every morning. It sucks.
Avatar universal
My doctor sent me to a class to learn to deal with GERD, and in the class, I asked the gastroentorologist about GERD raised heart rates, and he said it should not.  In my opinion, it does (but I'm not a doctor :-) ).  Another doctor that I saw mentioned that your heart rate and blood pressure would go up to respond to pain.  I also found that staying away from oatmeal and barley helps my stomach problems.
Avatar universal
Oh my. I eat oatmeal like everyday! LOL

I've read so many times that GERD speeds up the HR. Something about the vagus nerve that's in the stomach that connects to the heart. Most people with GERD *from what I've heard* get palpitations like 20 minutes or so after eating. It's happened to me a few times.

Then again, my heart is always fast anyway... if im lucky it'll be in the 80's at the lowest.
Avatar universal
Ya, I have Gerd and my problem is that I get the rapid heart beat and shortness of breath at night, but only every once in awhile..its happened twice actually. It really scares me sometimes caue its usually really late and im afraid to go to sleep cause it feels like i can't even breath. I usually end up sittin up in bed and I fall asleep like that and wake up fine..well, pretty much..I still feel a lil bad but not like that. I also got the chills and felt like I had to get sick. Now, I haven't been eating like I should and the night before I was eating bbq potatoe chips, alot actually, and it was right before I went to bed, which I know you shouldn't do but my gerd hadn't been that bad so I thought I would be fine. Well, ya, I wasn't. But can it really do that to you and do you think I had an anxiety attack like you mentioned? I tried to sit there and calm down and relax and it seemed to stay. I think it lasted about 20 minutes. Like I said, it doesn't happen everynight, its only happened twice now Im pretty sure, but the feeling is aweful.
Avatar universal
I have had similar problems - anxiety and GERD. It took me a while to figure out that GERD was behind the chest pain in the sternum (middle of the chest below the rib bone but slightly to the right from the center). It is tender to the touch and I can feel the pain when I press a bit on the spot. Intially, it was only on and off that I got the pain but as time progressed I was getting it more and more often.

I am a heavy consumer of alchohol and I figured that it must be interfering with the digestion since I was filling up on beer to the point of constantly burping. As an experiment to see if the chest pain and the alchohol were related, I stopped drinking for a couple of weeks and the chest pain went away completely.  I also noticed that coffee has the same effect. I do not drink coffee heavily...just a cup or two a day but that really produced the chest pain even when I do not drink alchohol...guess GERD has already caused enough damage.

When I went for a checkup with an ENT, he confirmed the same after doing a Barium swallow test that GERD was behind all this. The pic/video in the test shows the thing pushing its way back up after swallowing.

Avoid coffee and alchohol and there is certain relief. Below is a link to the effects of coffee on GERD
Have an Answer?
Top Heart Disease Answerers
159619 tn?1538180937
Salt Lake City, UT
11548417 tn?1506080564
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Is a low-fat diet really that heart healthy after all? James D. Nicolantonio, PharmD, urges us to reconsider decades-long dietary guidelines.
Can depression and anxiety cause heart disease? Get the facts in this Missouri Medicine report.
Fish oil, folic acid, vitamin C. Find out if these supplements are heart-healthy or overhyped.
Learn what happens before, during and after a heart attack occurs.
What are the pros and cons of taking fish oil for heart health? Find out in this article from Missouri Medicine.
How to lower your heart attack risk.