My history: I am a 50-year old male. I had been having palpitations for 3 years off and on and shrugging it off. My timeline of events:
March 2012: My wife and I were on vacation hiking in Gatlinburg and the chest pain was so bad that I collapsed several times before we could get back to the car and to the hospital. I could hardly breathe. Once at the hospital, they kept me in overnight and did the stress echo test with me on the treadmill. Nothing discovered. But since this event, I have had constant chest pain. I had been a smoker since age 16. The episode scared me enough to quit.
April 2012: Heart catheter procedure via groin detected two clogged arteries. A stent was put in one artery during procedure. Second artery was "L-shaped" and so balloon stent could not be placed. I was put on Nitrostat, plavix, metropothol, isosorbide, aspirin. I was told if I had chest pain and three nitros did not clear it up to come to the emergency room.
After being discharged, the chest pain that began during the Gatlinburg trip was not any better. The stent gave me no relief. Finally after a week, I had to take 4 nitros with no relief, and I went to the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack and maybe the stent had malfunctioned. They kept me overnight and did another heart catheter procedure (this time via wrist). I was told that the stent was fine.
June 2012: Joined a gym with my wife. Still having chest pain every day all day. Still taking nitros nearly every day for pain. Never go over three a day, and some days I don't need any. This is what is strange: When I work out at the gym or mow the yard, I don't have chest pain nearly as bad. But the chest pain is always there -- ever since the Gatlinburg event. The chest pain is mostly on the upper left side.
July 2012: Still having constant chest pain, but not as bad whenever I exercise. Although I NEVER have heartburn or indigestionI was given an upper and lower GI in the hospital. Everything looked normal except that my esophagus was a 'little narrow' and so they 'stretched it a little'. On the ride home from the hospital my chest pain was close to the worst it has ever been. It felt like a metal spike was going through my chest. I was put on Dexalent after the procedure.
I have basically been told that all I can do is to give the medicine time to work. I have not been satisfied with that answer and when I try to press them for a reason that a different type of stent be tried with the "L-shaped" artery, they act like I don't know what I am talking about. The only options I have been given are to stick with the meds and see if it clears things up, or face open heart surgery. I have been trying to get a referral to Vanderbilt, and they refused to do so until this GI procedure was done. Now they are telling me they want to see if the Dexalent works, but I am insisting on a referral.
My quality of life is terrible. 24/7 chest pain. I work/live through it because I have no choice.
The way I feel now compared to the way I felt at the Gatlinburg event is that the chest pain is the same, but at least I am able to breathe.
I have never suffered from panic attacks. I have a happy family life. I don't have money worries. I don't see how this could be stress related. (This was suggested to me by my doctor).
If anyone has had any similar experiences, I would love to know if anything helped you.
Thanks again for your reply. I need to speak with more people who have been through it. It just scares the hell out of me. Was it your experience that "8 weeks recovery time" is true? Did your angina stop immediately after your bypass (I realize the sternum cut would have been hurting a lot)? Cheers, Vyking!
Honestly 8 weeks recovery time is way too soon - it took me about a year to feel back to normal - it's a long slow process, some people progress faster than others.
Yes, the Angina stopped after the bypass, I can have sex now without the chest pain.
There is very little pain from the sternum, you need to remember the sternum is bone and doesn't have any nerves to cause pain.
The leg where they took a vein from was the worst and that was only a slight stinging, any pain I had was managed by tablets I didn't even need any heavy duty pain killers.
I was out of bed and showering the day after the surgery and home in 5 days.
Is there any updates? Have you done the Angiogram? I do have same symptoms as your, but also with mild short of Breath (SOB) sensation.
Not to purposely drag up old posts, but the scientific news these days is indicating that angioplasty and stents do not do more for angina sufferers than does a drug regimen to control angina. Not anyway when measuring the end-points, heart attacks and death. If fact even bypass surgery does not show better results except for the immediate and long term elimination of anginal pain. The end- points are little affected.
So perhaps we should view angina as something manageable rather than curable? And of course we must consder the degree of quality of life impairment on an individual basis. For example, somebody who has a 15 minute bout of angina a couple times a month might not be wise to risk invasive procedures but someone unable to climb a flight of stairs without pain would see things differently.