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Avatar universal

Worried about Heart Failure

Hi guys, thanks in advance for taking the time to read my post.

I'm 22 years old, about 110kgs, not fit, obviously overweight, non-smoker, seldom drink alcohol, and the only drug i've ever taken is caffeine.

For the past 3 years or so I've been battling with anxiety over my heart. From what I remember, I've always been able to feel it pounding even when I was barely a teenager, but for some reason I have come to notice it more these past few years. My resting heart rate right now is around 75-80bpm but just standing up and walking a few paces will make it jump to 100-110bpm.

The first time I went to the doctors for my heart was when it just wouldn't stop beating so hard, and at about 100-110bpm. I had an ECG and blood tests, and was told everything was normal. My anxiety continued and with the onset of chest pain (not in relation to exertion), I took myself to A&E where I was gicen several ECGs and blood tests, but again all these were normal. The only test that was abnormal was a 24hr urine test for cortisol, which was high due to anxiety (I assume).

Basically I have not done much exercise the past year. After graduating from university, I was unemployed and due to complicated circumstances I could only either work full time or not at all. Hence, I spent a lot of time on my posterior doing nothing.

Last month, I started a postgraduate course, and everything seemed better. Until I had to start walking regularly from the bus stop, up a gradual incline up to the university (about 1 mile away - 10 minutes).

I'm worried that I have something wrong with my heart. Worried that I didn't get myself fully checked out at the time, and it has worsened over time and has damaged my heart - hence the fears about heart failure.

I get out of breath and get a tight chest when walking to and from my university (granted, it's worse when I go uphill...), and my heart is pounding really bad and fast. When I go up 2 flights of stairs, it's the same. I once had to go to the fifth floor of the library, which I did via stairs without any break in between - I was gasping for breath at the top, and my heart was really pounding heart and fast, too.

I'm scared to go out, to do any walking or activity - because it will only provide further evidence that there is something wrong. I don't get any chest pain when I'm walking, just tight chest. There are even moments when I am tight-chested when I'm walking, but then I take an even deeper breath and it momentarily improves before going back.

Also, in the past few weeks (probably more like 5 weeks), I have developed a bit of a cough. It's not a dry tickly cough, but a chesty one. Where you need to cough to be able to breathe in deeply, but there is never any sputum. This also happens after I have eaten.

The other complaint I have is I get pins and needles quite easily. Even sitting on the toilet for more than 5 minutes and I get pins and needles in my feet (which are often cold), and I often wake up in the morning with a numb limb (though sometimes I realise I have been laying on it.)

I don't have any swelling in my ankles, but I do have a visible pulse in my neck, below my adam's apple. It is strong enough that my shirt moves.

I sincerely apologise for the long post, but I live alone away from my family and I have recently broken up with my girlfriend. I don't have anywhere else but here to express what I'm feeling.

Could it be possible that I have CHF at such a young age? Or is this all a sign of needing to do a lot more exercise after being sedentary for a while? I have had the heart symptoms on and off for a while as I said, but the getting out of breath easily is something new.

Finally, I have recently had a bout of cellulitis in my leg, and it is taking ages for the pitting edema to go down, but at least only the one leg is affected. However, I feel like I have cramping in both my calf muscles (the right one especially). I went to my doctor today, who said it was likely being caused by cellulitis. But it feels like a cramp, not a muscle pain, and I've had it since Sunday (two days ago)!

I'm worried this is another symptom of chf, especially when I read that I could have poor circulation in my legs. I have the weird stasis pigmentation, the cramps in my calves when walking for more than 10 minutes, the lack of hair growth on my right calf... Surely I can't have athesclerosis at 22 years of age? :( or heart failure for that matter :( but my symptoms indicate otherwise...don't they?

I mentioned the shortness of breath to my doctor who didn't seem concerned, and I believe she ruled out a blood clot too.

One final thing: thank you. Sincerely.

5 Responses
976897 tn?1379171202
It may sound strange, but people who worry about their hearts become 'tuned in' to them. They can feel them much more than people who ignore their hearts. I too found this after my first heart attack, and laying down trying to sleep was a nightmare because all I could hear was boom boom boom all the time. I just decided that it was better to hear it than not hear it, at least I knew it was working :)  After a few months being more relaxed about it, I found it actually went away again. When you are anxious about your heart, you will become more and more sensitive to hearing/feeling it. You need to start trusting that it's doing just fine and train yourself to ignore it. Each time you tune into your heart and get anxious, you will be pumping adrenaline into your blood stream, which the heart will react to and speed up and pound harder too. I used to just say things like "oh good, it's still working" and then think about other things.
You are not abnormal in seeing a sudden rise in heart rate if you get up quickly from a laying/sitting position. If I get up quickly I have seen my heart just to 110bpm quite suddenly, but then gradually drop to 80/90 bpm. This actually shows your heart is healthy because if it didn't react that quickly you would suddenly go very light headed when standing up due to the sudden drop in blood pressure.
Avatar universal
Please, please, RELAX.

The first thing, I would say, is to try to understand a bit more the terms and do not confuse things:

1) Cellulites has nothing to do with edemas neither with cramps.
2) Poor leg circulation has nothing to do with heart failure, neither with the heart itself.

I will advise you to do a bit more of exercise, at a pace that you feel comfortable, but increasing it little by little. As per the cramps, try to eat some bananas since they can be produced by lack of magnesium that you can compensate with the bananas.

Avatar universal
Thanks guys for your reply, I am so pleased you did.

Like I say, I went to see my GP, but she didn't seem to be concerned with the swelling, she didn't remark on the lack of hair or the weird light brown marks. Would heart failure at 22 be possible? Could the shortness of breath and poor leg circulation just be down to being unfit?

I've had a few doctors over the past couple of years listen to my chest and heart, and they have never said anything was wrong or cause for concern. I just feel like my symptoms are progressively getting worse.

For the shortness of breath, I don't have to stop walking, but I do feel like I have to take much deeper breaths just for walking up a flight of stairs or a slight incline.

I'm aware that heart failure can cause swelling in the legs. I only have swelling in one leg, which is the one where I had the cellulitis, but is it a symptom of heart failure that it is taking so long for the swelling (which is pitting) to go down, along with the constant feeling of cramp in my inside calf?
Avatar universal

Your obession towards the health is causing anxiety. My brother has been in this viscious cycle for years and now he is trying to come off by not thinking too much about his health. Please try to do some breathing execrise/execrise and take a good CBT theraphy. It is all in your thinking patterns and emotional state. In a long run this anxiety will seriuosly affect your health by means of increased BP or it can manifest in any form. By getting anxious you are putting your body in to lot of stress which will have great impact on your health. Try to relax, follow some execrise routine, diet. It will help you forever.

Avatar universal
Hi Paul

You got 3 good responds so I will just highlight one thing. You are 110kgs. You haven’t say how tall you are. For example if you are 180 cm, you should be maximum 80 kg, if we talking about an idol weight. But you know that, the question will you do anything about it?
You do not have heart failure, but in the future you might have all sort of problems if you are not working on those kilos. With walking you will not burn enough calories; you should do more, even if you have to take deeper breaths.
I know it is hard. But it is not impossible.
Let me tell you a little true story.:)
The aria I am living is idol for running, so I see many people from my window or garden, there are the early morning runners the daytime and on and on. I thought well they all look right weight, I wish to see a big person run. My wish came true,:) one day I had seen a huge boy, well yes he was way overweight,tall also, but at least 120-30 kilos and he was running, very slowly. The tears came to my eyes and sent him my thought from my distance:
“You go brother....”
I have not seen him all summer, I thought he gave up, but obvious not (I have else to do then see the runners all day:)).. So few days ago he appeared and was running faster and visibly lost weight. I was very happy for that young man, who I didn’t know nothing else about, but that he made a decision and he keep doing the right thing.
So I send you the same wish:
You go Brother!!
I was an on - off runner, a yo yo dieter so I do know it is not easy to reach the ideal weight but it can be done.
Good luck!
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