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Avatar universal

Heart pain....is death knocking at my door? : (

I'm a 29yr old male, measure 5'9, and weigh between 245-250lbs (I consider myself obese).

I have a had a history of uncontrolled (never taken meds for high blood pressure) mild high blood pressure (which was first detected at about age 23) and recently quit smoking pot (I was a heavy consistent pot smoker for the last 2 years or so). I've considered myself very inactive as my job requires sitting in front of a computer for most of the day for the last 4 or 5 years and my eating habbits were careless, as I did not watch what I ate (I actually had the tendency to eat out at fast foods alot, including Pizza).

It started about 4 to 5 weeks ago when I started having different kind of pains in the left side of my chest approx an inch to the left side of the center of my chest. These pains can range from achy, dullness, heavy pressure, tightness, shocking, squeezing.... with achy, dull and shocking being the most common. The pains come and go ranging from a few seconds to about 5 mins. Sometimes they come more intense than other times. The pains seem to come spurraticly throughout the day and night. At times I can feel the pains with deep breaths and at times I cannot. I don't think anything specific is triggering the pains and I cannot seem to pin down when they often come (there is no certain cycle). It seems they do not necessarily come on with excertion or while exercising, however, I have felt them a few occasions while excersing (for example the first 5 mins), although I was able to finish my excersise with no pain. Sometimes I can feel the pains (also shocking sensations) with what seems to be each heartbeat. I twist and turn to see if the pain is related to possible muscle pain and the pain does not seem to happen with any movemnet or action. At one time, for a period of 3 days in a row I woke up with alot heavyness pressure and pain in my chest and as soon as I would get up it would slowly go away. The pains can become quite frightening, painful and very discomforting. I have had heart palpatations while exercising, but have noticed they have subsided somewhat. This is probably due to the easing in of the excersise from being nonactive for the last 2 years.

For the first few days i brushed it off, in hopes that it would go away, possibly by excersising. I decided to start excersing after I quit smoking and also decided to change my diet. But after a week and a half, I woke up with heavyness in my chest for 2 days in a row, not to mention a continuance of "on and off" pain that ha not gone away, I thought I better seek medical attention by making an appointment with my family doctor. They took me in right away as I complained of chest pains.

They checked my blood pressure and, as usual, mildly high (153/93). They did blood tests and 2 (resting) EKGs which both came back normal (including normal cholesterol). The doctor advised that she felt I may be suffering from GERD (acid reflux) and prescribed some Zantac. She stated she did not think this was a heart realted problem, but to be on the safe side, she has scheduled me for a stress test (treadmill EKG), which is pending on 7/7/08.

Just yesterday I had the most frightening pain of all, I was at work around 9 AM simply walking to my desk when I stopped to chat with a co-worker, while talking all of a sudden I felt what seemed like a crushing chest pain with a spasm mixed in around or where my heart is. It lasted about 7-10 seconds and slowly went away. I freaked out and quickly rushed to tell my boss. I did not get that same awful pain anymore for the rest of the day. After work I rushed myself to the ER as I was still freaked out. They took me in and did an EKG and chest X-ray immedietley. Both came out normal. This was the 3rd EKG that has came out normal. The doctor stated that the number one rule of thumb was not if the pain did not increase during physical activity then the chances are that it is not heart related and that was a good sign. Ever since that scary incident, I continue to have spurratic chest pains that come and go, but I haven't had the consistent pain that lasted for more than 5 mins since then. (NOTE: I also noted that before I decided to diet, after I ate a heavy meal I would feel my head throbbing, my heart would feel like it was struggling to beat or beating very hard, and I felt very hyperactive).


My greatest concern is that my chest pain is heart related. Being that I had unctrolled high blood pressure smoked pot heavily, was inactive both at home and at work, Over-ate (Also due to Pot)....... Could this be heart related? Could I have somehow caused damage to my heart? Could I have heart disease?


The day before I had that sharp pain that almost sent me to the floor, I had pushed my limits on the treadmill, doing an hour of excerises and somewhat intense. I did not have any pain while on the treadmill that day at all......could that have caused my pain??? Could my heart simply be waking up from being nonactive???


I'm at a lost. This is causing depression and anxiety in my life (which now seems to alter my symptoms). I cannot concentrate at work (especially when I have spurratic pains in my chest). I am now having trouble sleeping. I dont' know if it's me or if I am sometimes feeling like I am having shortness of breath at night when going to bed. Any help or input would be appreciated. I have a wife and 3 children (ages 6,9,12) that I think of everyday. I am very scared.
37 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi Predaphin,
It sounds like this chest pain has become the focal point of your life, which is understandable when you fear that it is a warning sign of serious problems. I myself would get such pains and worried about them a lot, and the more I worried and thought of them, the more frequently they would come. But what helped me was to be a little more educated on the subject.
Pain related to the heart and its blood supply is known as angina. Angina that resolves relatively quickly (under 30 min.) is known as stable angina, and there are no long term side effects. The heart is not damaged at all, it is just painful. So don't worry about heart injury.
But I would question if your symptoms are heart related. From what you wrote it sounds like the pain is very localized (you can point to the place where it originates). Heart pain/attacks etc. have very generalized pain, meaning you would not be able to point to a focal area. You also said that these events are sporatic, and are not directly exercise induced, which would be odd for stable angina.Your experience of palpatations, etc. during exercise may be due to strenuous exercise which you are not used to, don't just throw yourself into too hard of an exercise routine too soon, ease yourself into it.
You may be having some anxiety attacks, which when combined with your fears, manifest themselves as what you would perceive as a heart related issue. This doesn't mean that it would only happen when you are stressed or thinking about it, it could hit at sporatic times, because that same fear is always in the back of your mind ready to emmerge. You should try some relaxation exercises, and don't let yourself think that your pain is meaning impending death.Look up some breathing exercises to relieve stress. You may not be able to abate the fear right at first, but if you fight the fear and try to push it away, gradually you can get in control of it, and hopefully be free of it.
I hope that this was helpful to you! Tell me if anything I said was confusing/ want more info. Best of luck in this, I can really relate. All the best!
Avatar universal
Unfortunately, I can't give advice here.  But I felt it necessary to say that you're not the only one.  You're entry has pretty much described my experiences verbatim!

You would think that having professionals tell you "your heart is fine" would be comforting.  It is not.  It almost makes it worse and makes you feel very alone and vulnerable.

I don't spend a lot of time here.  Is there a way I can follow up on this post?  I would really like to see the outcome as I am also suffering.

Oh, and thank you Coffeebean for a very kind, understanding, and someone comforting reply.  You are appreciated.

263988 tn?1281957896
I had similar pains for two years before finally getting a diagnosis. It took many doctors' visits and eleven ER visits with most doctors literally saying to me, "don't come back here with this pain. Take two Advil and go to bed. There's nothing wrong with you."

In fact, there was something very wrong with me. However, it took two years for it to fully develop into a full-fledged illness which was Perimyocarditis. Part of the problem I learned was that my symptoms were "Atypical." I so much hate that word that I'm writing a book about my experiences. In a two year span, I suffered from two different classic presentations of lessor known conditions. And doctors diagnosed me with "Atypical Migraine" for one and "Atypical Chest Pain" for the other.

To say the least, this was frustrating especially when I discovered what I had. There was nothing atypical about my conditions. I had all the classic signs right down the line for each of my two conditions.

The other condition was not a migraine, but Narrow-Angle Glaucoma which presents with heart palpitations, chest pain, pain in and around the eye, nausea, photophobia, and occipital head pain. You can have many other symptoms which I exhibited at one time or another. This condition presents in 'attacks' and worsens over time resulting in blindness in the affected eye if not treated. After nine months of suffering and seeing several doctors for my condition, I was fortunate to find an ER doctor who knew what he saw. And he listened to me unlike the other doctors who dismissed my symptoms as 'atypical.' I was five hours from losing my sight in my right eye.

The Perimyocarditis was only discovered after I presented with the classic sharp pain which registered a definite "10" on the pain scale. I nearly passed out from the excruciating pain. As my hubby said, I was white as a sheet. It took two times with back to back ER visits, within 30 hours of each other, to finally get diagnosed. That second visit to the ER shocked the doctor who diagnosed me, because the first ER doctor sent me home without pain medication. And I was in so severe pain I couldn't sleep on my back or my left side.

I was hospitalized three times in one month for complications. Three months later I was pronounced healed with no return of symptoms.

I learned from these experiences that persistence pays off in the long run. And that not every doctor can figure out what's wrong. And that you have to find the doctor who has the experience with your condition for you to get diagnosed. And that the best doctors are the ones who can both take a thorough history and listen, they make great diagnosticians.
Avatar universal
I totally agree that finding the right doctor is both challenging and necessary.  I was having localized pain in my left upper chest for a month, thinking it was indigestion.  One morning it was excruciating pain.  Ambulance and hospitalization.  All normal EKGs and 24-hour blood tests.  The hospitalist told me I was going home and coming back the next day for a stress test, but that my primary care doctor had to sign me out.  She listened to my "story," said I was staying and seeing a cardiologist.  He ordered an angiogram, I had a quadruple bypass.  95% blockage in my left main artery, the "widow maker."  A stress test might have killed me!    My doctor's seasoned, experienced "intuition" probably saved my life, but what if I'd not had her?  The point is, don't give up.  Pester for second and third opinions.  You know your body best.  Doctors are humans.  They make mistakes.  If you don't think they are hearing you, go elsewhere.  They are not infallible, but a good diagnostician is a life saver.  Some of health pursuit is luck, so I'm wishing you the best of luck.
159619 tn?1538184537
I was where you are at in 2005. A couple of things to consider, frirst at 5'9" and 250 pounds you are obese and many of your symptoms may be related to deconditioning, especially if you have just started exercise, but even without exercise deconditioning can cause symptoms, you need to get the weight off.

Also, you have been checked out pretty well, so you need to listen to the doctors and get past the fear and go to work on getting you health back through exercise and diet. Get your weight down, your blood pressure will come down.

One last thing to consider is that your symptoms could also very easily be anxiety related. People don't like to hear that but anxiety can play all kinds of tricks on your mind, you may want to talk to your doctor about that as well.

I was well over weight in 2005 and went to the ER for some mild chest pain. If you ever want to get pushed to the front of a long line at the ER, just let them see you are an overwight 47 year old male with chest pain and you're first up. I had all the tests you went through plus cardiac marker tests and got held over night for a Nuclear Stress test the next day. I had these tests repeated every year for 3 years, always normal so I know it's hard to get away from the fear. On January 1st 2007 I chaged my diet and started working out. I'm now down 70 pounds but still have a few to loose, slow weight loss is the key, don't try to get it all at once. My doctor saw my anxiety over my health and treated that as well. Today I am back to my old normal self, but it was difficult.

You'll get there, just make sure you exercise, diet and keep your doctor informed on any changes in your symptoms, never ignore chest pain, go to your doctor or the ER, it's not worth the risk.

Hope this helps,

Avatar universal
I want to thank you all for the responses.

I am really looking forward to that stress test. At the same time I am scared they may find something is wrong. But like everybody tells me, it's better to know now than later.

I will say a prayer for all of you on here, likewise a prayer would be appreciated.

553283 tn?1409697911
Before I was finally diagnosed with 2 90% blockages and 1 70% blockage;I had been told by almost an entire group of cardiologists that I was "fine". My gerd was causing my problems along with a hiatal hernia.My wife and mother thought me to be a "nut" case when I kept going to the ER.They convinced me to seek psycological care;after all it was just "nerves".........I too kept waking in the night unable to breathe.One good thing that did come out of all my visits to the DR. was finding out that I had sleep apnea(which could have contributed to my heart problems).The cardiologist that ended up finding my blockages initally told me that my risk factors were too low too worry about such and that I was a hypochondriac.After finding my problem and doing bypass;he said that some of us just "slip thru the cracks"......I guess thats as close to an apology as I am going to get.I crashed during catherization and had to be shocked back.The attending cardiologist chastised me for "scaring him".......I asked the surgeon how long he thought this had been going on...he said many years.........I have very little faith in Drs. lately.....Have you been checked for sleep apnea????Do you have alot of stress in your life?????Look for a DR. that will take a little time to listen rather than give you your five minutes then schedule your for a test.........You are young enough to dodge any cardiac bullet that may be coming your way....................
387767 tn?1345875627
I'm sorry you are going through this.  First off, I would not say you are OBESE. You are overweight, yes, but since you do work out you are probably muscular.

Your blood pressure is high.  I don't understand why, if that is your normal reading, the doctors are not giving you medicine to lower it.  

I have HBP and High cholesterol and I'm overweight (they call me OBESE too) and there's a strong family history of heart attacks.  Anyway, I am much older than you, but I had experiences with that crushing type of chest pain.  Question:  Does the pain go around your back also?  How long does it last?  I had all the tests several times, and although I do have risk factors, I have no major problems YET.  I take medicine for my HBP and I tried the statins for cholesterol, but I can't tolerate the side effects.

My thinking is that since you do work out that this is a muscle pain.  There is also something called costochondritis (sp?) that is a pain in the muscle in your chest.  It is a fairly common thing, especially in people with fibromyalgia (which I have), but anyone can get it.

These are just my thoughts.  Please don't worry.  Get your tests done.  Be happy if they say they're clear.  Then I would try a rheumatologist for your pain.  Good luck.
159619 tn?1538184537
I did not mean to hurt anyone's feelings when I stated you are obese, but by medical terms you are classed as obese. You have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 37 and anything over 30 is classed as obese. Also, please don't fear the stress test, you are right it is better to know and I think you'll be pleased at the results.

Just be cautious when you read the internet forums. There are definately people that have passed their tests and been cleared by cardioilogists and then had the big one, it happens. What you need to remember is that you are reading posts from people that have had poor outcomes, the people that have been in your situation and had normal test results and go on to live normal lives don't tend to post, there just is no longer a need. You will read many more posts from unfortunate individuals that had bad experiences than from the hundreds of thousand that had normal test results and moved on so don't let your anxiety get the best of you.

Good luck on the test, I think you'll do great!

553283 tn?1409697911
Just remember GERD can mimmick heart disease,in fact most people that have a bad case of GERD could not tell it from a heart attack.Zantac can relieve symtoms from moderate GERD but you may need a PPI(proton pump inhibitor)such as Prevacid,Nexium,Zegerid,Protonics,etc. to relieve your symtoms.If your stress test comes back negative;you might want to discuss such meds with your Dr.Also, everyday stress can cause some very distressing symtoms also mimmicking heart trouble.Good luck to you and may the Lord be with you..   JHH
Avatar universal
Thanks again for more responses guys. Tommorow is my stress test.

I do suffer from sleep apnea. I've talked to my physician about it and she has me set up for a sleep apnea test on 7/24/08 (I have Kaiser Permanente Insurance). It seems like these tests get put far off, which really gets me frustrated because I feel I am not living a normal life.
As for stress in my life, well, I do have a stressful job, in which I am a paralegal. Court documents have to be submitted by a certain time frame. However, I've been doing it for about 6 years and I'm usually well ahead of my work whereas I feel I have my job down packed to where I don't really stress myself out. But then again, maybe i'm just assuming.

Cinddee, I did start working out but it has been only about a month and a half when I started feeling a bit ill. Although, I have not lifted any weights, rather have stuck to strictly cardio (running on treadmill and playing basketball). Therefore I am not muscular, but rather overwieght. I will say that before I started smoking pot (in which I deeply regret), I was lifting weights and doing cardio for about a year and a half (then I started to smoke and shyed away from the gym slowly but surely. Back then I was muscular.

It's a real bummer feeling the way I am feeling. I feel like i'm not living a normal life. I have to admit I do tend to beleive i have stress, depression and anxiety, but I also will say I beleive it these things came well after I began feeling chest pains. Before that, I felt fine. And another bummer is the fact that I may now have anxiety, stress and depression, therefore I'm not quite sure anymore what symptoms are real and what symptoms are in my head.

What I can say is that the follwoing symptoms are 100% real:

1. Chest pain - pressure, achy, dull, shocking and stabbing....it can come at any time for no particular reason and can last anywhere from a second to 5 mins (or even linger meaning coming and going about every 3 to 4 minutes) and as of late i've noticed it comes more frequently at night when I'm asleep and at times maybe about 10-20 minutes after eating a small meal (even a salad). Lately it has even woke me up which freaks me out. The funny thing is that it seems that as soon as I move in a different postion or sit up from sleeping the pain seems to go slowly away, however, the pain tends to come back the next time i'm waking up from it. I cannot tell how long the pains last, but I figure they must range from anywhere from a second to 5 minutes while i'm asleep. Also, as I stated in my first post, I had the strongest pain i've ever felt that one day at work for about 10 seconds or so. That was for real. I thank GOD i have not felt that same pain since then. It literally knocked me to the floor.

2. Heartburn - This symptom is a fact. I get the burns in my esophagus and sometimes I can feel like food simply gets stuck or comes up from the esophagus. I am staying away from spicy foods and my doctor has me on Zantac.

3. Burping - I have the tendecy to burp out loud and with force. Sometimes, I don;t even expect it. Sometimes even after drinking lots of water. More often I noted after a heavy meal which would also leave me bloated. Since I am now scared of my chest pains I have cut my meals in half for the last 3 weeks (and have ate nothing but salads) and have notice the forceful burps have somewhat subsided or mellowed out, but at times I still have the tendecy to burp, especially after any meal.

4. High Blood Pressure - They have me montoring my blood pressure right now and it contiues to be mildy high at times, although now that i've been eating practically nothing but salads, it seems to be a bit more under control.

These are symptoms to which I am not sure if they are real or simply in my head from anxiety, depression and stress:

1. Fatigue - Sometimes I feel like I get tired easily. Sometimes I feel like my eyes are heavy and I am sleepy. It can happen by simply by walking for a few minutes. I feel like my heart is working harder than usual for no particular reason. This symptom may also occur after eating a meal.

2. Shortness of Breath - I decided to put this symptom here because I have noted that this symptom has somewhat subsided at night (at least I think it has). I have not felt this symptom for the last 4 or 5 nights. I May have felt this symptom during the day a few times, but rarely.

3. Pain radiating to my left shoulder/arm - At times, I feel like pain radiates down my left arm. Sometimes feeling it under the armpit down to the inner part of elbow. The pains may or may not occur with chest pains. This pain comes and goes in spuratic moments lasting anywhere from a second to a few minutes. But like I said, sometimes I don;t know if the pain is really there or if it's my mind playing tricks on me.

4. Pain radiating up my throat to my jaws - As of today, I began noting a new symptom. I woke up with pain radiating in my jaw (mostly on the right side). I do have a moler that needs some work there and i'm figuring that is simply what it is. It feels like an itching (in gum) mixed with an aching pain. The thing is I can somehwat feel it radiate through my neck and that makes me doubt it's my tooth. I've brushed my teeth about 3 times this morning to see if it goes away, but this pain alike other, comes and goes in spuratic moments.

5. Lump in throat - At times I feel like I have a lump in my throat and it makes me want to swallow to make it go away. But again I cannot make out if it's my mind or if it's really there. Of course, the more I really think it's there, the more tendecy I have to swallow.

6. Cold sweats (only at night) - I cannot say if this symotom is related to my chest pains as I have noted cold sweats in my past. Even when I worked out at the gym a few years ago. But lately I have woke up drenched and soaked in sweat. I don't get cold until after I pull the covers away as they too will be soaked in sweat. That is when i beagn to feel cold.

7. Pain radiating to my back - This is another symptom that has came as of late in which I cannot point out if it is really there, although it feels like it is. It almost feels like the pain is at the equivalent place where I am getting my chest pains (almost underneath the left wingbone or so). It's really hard to tell as I cannot point it out. This pain however, seems to come on with the chest pain at hand.

There you have it. These are my most notible symptoms (that I can think of right now). I am beggining to get fed up of living this way. Yesterday, I told myself, screw this, if I'm going to have a heart attack then let's get it overwith and decided to go outside and play some intense basketball. To my surpise, I had no feeling of chest pain in the 20-30 minutes or so of playing basketball (which I take as a great sign). I felt very upbeat after that and decided to power walk and light jog (about 2 hours after playing basketbal)l for another good 30 minutes on my treadmill, again no signs of any chest pain.

The positives I tend to think i have going for me are:
- My age "29"
- 3 resting EKG's have been normal
- Blood test taken in March of this year was normal inlcufing all sugar and cholesterol readings.

I need to know what is wrong with me and be put on meds cause the only thing I am taking right now is Aspirin (which I take at night because that is when I have noticed the chest pains stronger) and Zantac. I have the tendency to self daignose myself which is a bad thing. I fear I may have Angina, heart disease or an enlarged heart. I hope and pray it has nothing to do with my heart. I also fear of getting a heart attack any day now. I want to live a normal life again. : (
Avatar universal
I am in the same boat as you.  I have all the same symptoms as you and they have been going on for awhile.  I was doing good up until a couple of days ago and then "bam" all my symptoms came back.

I suffer from chest pressure, chest pain, left shoulder pain, left arm pain, left elbow pain, veins that swell in my left forearn, lower jaw pain, dizziness and leg pain (only when walking up stairs).  I have been told my symptoms are "atypical" in nature for cardiac problems but when you look them up on the internet they all say heart condition.  I want to see my doc. but they always brush me off, saying it is anxiety.  I don't know what to do anymore.

I have had many tests done.  EKG's, stress test, stress echo test, nuclear stress test, 2D echo, tilt table test, and so much bloodwork.  All came back fine, and most of these are pretty recent (withing the last 3 months).

I wish you luck today with your stress test but I just wanted to tell you that you are not alone with your symptoms and that hopefully they find out what is wrong with you.

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