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Old 06-21-2013, 04:50 AM   #1
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Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

I have been to the doctor and had EKGs, holter monitor, echocardiogram, and blood tests (Thyroid and adrenaline tests were fine).. everything comes back negative, except sinus tachycardia. I went to the doctor for rapid heart rate and dizziness, especially after eating and after waking up.. also when standing or doing any bit of small exercise at all (even just walking across the house, or standing makes it go 160-170 beats per minute or higher). They have run many tests (except stress test) so far.. again all look great except slightly low EF of 50-55% which they didn't seem concerned about. There has to be something wrong though, it seems as if my heart is working super hard just for me to stand/walk/digest/any form of exercise.. I don't exercise but i'm not overweight either, and they told me lack of exercise wouldn't cause this much of an increase. I thought maybe someone here might have some idea what this could be? I have no heart disease in my family at my age.. could I already have clogged arteries or something? (My diet isn't good at all) .. I've also noticed my heart never beats at a steady speed.. within 10 seconds it can change from fast to slow 2 or 3 times, skip beats, etc.

 
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:36 AM   #2
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

It is unlikely but not impossible to have coronary artery disease at your age. How is your cholesterol? I would check your blood tests to see if they did a BNP, a test for congestive heart failure. Again, unlikely, but just to be thorough. What is your baseline rate when resting for at least 10 min? I would go ahead and get a treadmill just to be thorough in workup. How is your BP? Do you get excess shortness of breath with exertion? Have sleep apnea? Excess caffeine? I'll check back with you later.

 
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:42 AM   #3
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

Clogged arteries do not cause the symptoms you describe. You have sinus tachycardia. Pay attention to that diagnosis.

 
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:50 AM   #4
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

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It is unlikely but not impossible to have coronary artery disease at your age. How is your cholesterol? I would check your blood tests to see if they did a BNP, a test for congestive heart failure. Again, unlikely, but just to be thorough. What is your baseline rate when resting for at least 10 min? I would go ahead and get a treadmill just to be thorough in workup. How is your BP? Do you get excess shortness of breath with exertion? Have sleep apnea? Excess caffeine? I'll check back with you later.
Not sure about cholesterol, never had it checked.. I think they did all the heart blood tests at the ER the other week. He said he was doing blood tests to see if my "heart was damaged", he said they were okay. Baseline heartrate is unpredictable, sometimes it's in the high 50's, others as high as 120. (sitting). My blood pressure is usually normal, I had one spike the other day when I tested it where it was 147/104, but it returned to normal shortly after. Yes I do sorta get short of breath even with the slightest exercise, not sure why. No sleep apnea to my knowledge and I avoid caffiene. They have me on toprol xl right now at a low dose daily to try to lower it but it's giving me bad side effects too.. I can't really explain it but my heart just feels very weak. Also thanks for the reply

 
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Old 06-21-2013, 08:07 AM   #5
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

I would ask to get a copy of all the blood tests done so far and check for a BNP and cholesterol. They should be done if not. An uncommon cause is an opening in the heart or pulmonary hypertension, which can be checked out by a "bubble" echocardiogram. It traces air bubbles through the heart to see if any flow is going the wrong way. I would ask for that, as this sounds different than just regular sinus tachycardia since it is tied to exertion and so frequent.

 
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:51 PM   #6
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

I have many of the same symptoms as you do -- sinus tachycardia, slightly lowered ejection fraction (53%), sometimes skipped heart beats, low blood pressure. I get extreme lightheadedness, chest tightness, shortness of breath. When this started, I was in good shape -- worked out 5 days per week. I've had my thyroid checked, adrenal glands, Lyme disease, cholestrol, you name it. I have had almost every cardiac test imaginable -- EKGs, stress test, echo, CT, cardiac MRI, perfusion scan, catherization. The catherization proved there was nothing blocked. The doctors cannot figure it out. Because my ejection fraction is now low-normal, especially compared to an echo done more than a year ago, they say there is some heart muscle damage, but could be idiopathic, meaning they cannot say why --it just happened. Or it could have been the result of a virus. Or genetic heart disease (I do have some heart disease in my family). I've tried various heart meds, but beta blockers, even low dose, lower my blood pressure into the 80s over 60s. No luck on calcium channel blockers either. I'm currently on ramipril to try to help strengthen the heart muscle. I have good days and bad. I think 23 is very very young to worry about a blockage. Just know it is possible to have these symptoms without a blockage. It is possible to have these symptoms without ever finding a cause. It's hard to deal with some days especially when it affects your lifestyle, but you just have to try to stay positive and try meds that your doctor prescribes.

 
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Old 06-21-2013, 09:08 PM   #7
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

Another blood test that may help you both is antimyocardial antibodies. That is a test to see if you have autoimmune heart muscle damage. It can cause symptoms of low ejection fraction, shortness of breath and tachycardia with exertion. Not many Drs do that test but I would ask for it, since it is an easy blood test and could shed some light on the situation.

 
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Old 06-22-2013, 04:36 AM   #8
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

I'm just not sure how to take the next step with my cardiologist.. I think they believe all of it is caused by stress, which couldn't possibly cause all of these things (even the ER doctor confirmed this). Also, they haven't said so, but I think due to my age (23), they're not really thinking it's anything serious because heart problems are so rare at 23.. so maybe they're not doing as much testing as they could. Should I go to another doctor? Or can I request these tests be done?

By the way they also put me on beta blockers.. which I have been taking but I don't really like them... I don't really like taking medication that changes my heartbeat.. are these things safe?

Last edited by Roar114; 06-22-2013 at 04:40 AM.

 
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Old 06-22-2013, 04:51 AM   #9
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

Yes you can certainly request these tests. The beta blockers are safe to slow your heart rate and prevent the tachycardia, but if you have low ejection fraction, they can further lower it, as they reduce cardiac output a little. A calcium channel blocker may be preferrable. How do you feel on the beta blocker? If you feel more short of breath and less able to tolerate exertion, I would ask for a change in meds. I would raise the question of cardiomyopathy (early) or pulmonary hypertension, or a shunt caused by a septal defect. Did you have a bad viral infection in the last couple of years that lasted a long time or was severe? When Drs can't find answers, they often chalk symptoms up to stress rather than just say, "I don't know". I agree your age is a factor in getting a less aggressive work-up.

 
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Old 06-22-2013, 05:05 AM   #10
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

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Yes you can certainly request these tests. The beta blockers are safe to slow your heart rate and prevent the tachycardia, but if you have low ejection fraction, they can further lower it, as they reduce cardiac output a little. A calcium channel blocker may be preferrable. How do you feel on the beta blocker? If you feel more short of breath and less able to tolerate exertion, I would ask for a change in meds. I would raise the question of cardiomyopathy (early) or pulmonary hypertension, or a shunt caused by a septal defect. Did you have a bad viral infection in the last couple of years that lasted a long time or was severe? When Drs can't find answers, they often chalk symptoms up to stress rather than just say, "I don't know". I agree your age is a factor in getting a less aggressive work-up.
The beta blocker makes my heart rate TOO slow sometimes, because I don't always have a super fast rate, sometimes it slows down to almost normal and at those times the rate drops into the low 50's and I just feel uncomfortable.. It feels like I need to move or something to get it pumping, because i'm afraid if the rate gets too low it'll stop beating.. Doesn't the echocardiogram rule out cardiomyopathy? I could ask anyway though. No bad infections in the past couple years, I haven't gotten sick in a long time. What about myocarditis? Or is that what you were talking about above? Could my poor diet and lack of exercise over the past 3-4 years have added to this too? I know my EF isn't that low but it doesn't seem normal that it is borderline at my age.. Also what about something lung related? Could that cause these things too? Another thing, I know I mentioned this above, but i'm also not able to sleep much beacuse I keep waking up sweating with my heart beating really fast...

Last edited by Roar114; 06-22-2013 at 05:07 AM.

 
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Old 06-22-2013, 05:20 AM   #11
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

Yes I would lump myocarditis and cardiomyopathy together. Very early on it would not show up on echo. That is why I suggested the BNP and myocardial antibodies. Are you sure your thyroid was not overactive? I would ask for a copy of your labs, as excess thyroid hormone can cause these exact symptoms. It could be a lung problem, but I think less likely. Do you have a cough, chest pain, wheezing? What diseases run in your family?

 
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Old 06-22-2013, 05:44 AM   #12
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

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Yes I would lump myocarditis and cardiomyopathy together. Very early on it would not show up on echo. That is why I suggested the BNP and myocardial antibodies. Are you sure your thyroid was not overactive? I would ask for a copy of your labs, as excess thyroid hormone can cause these exact symptoms. It could be a lung problem, but I think less likely. Do you have a cough, chest pain, wheezing? What diseases run in your family?
Yeah, my TSH levels were normal, i've had it tested 2 or 3 times by different doctors. I think they might have done BNP at the hospital? I was at the ER the other week and they did some blood work to check for "heart damage". He didn't mention anything concerning. They are checking for my adrenaline levels right now to see if I have a pheochromocytoma, still waiting for those results. No cough or wheezing. I have gotten occasional on and off bursts of pain on my chest or arms but they only last a few seconds and have been happening for a week or two now, I think that might be muscular though since i've been lacking sleep and am achy... not sure though. My grandfather has a heart issue but he's in his 80's.. my grandmother has borderline diabetes, and my aunt has a "hole in her heart" as she describes it but I don't know what that is, that woulda shown on echo if I had it though. By the way thanks so much for the detailed replies... i've learned more here than probably from my doctor.

Last edited by Roar114; 06-22-2013 at 09:30 PM.

 
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:41 AM   #13
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

I forgot to add I almost always have a low grade fever.. I have for months.. right now it's 99.6. My normal is almost exactly 98.6.

 
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Old 06-23-2013, 08:12 AM   #14
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

Ahhh...that adds a new wrinkle. So the fever might mean you have ongoing inflammation, which can occur in autoimmune diseases. Those can cause tachycardia, shortness of breath, rhythm disturbances, and aching muscles, as well as myocarditis. In view of the fever, I would consider lupus testing, with some blood tests such as sed rate, CRP, ANA, urine, CBC and chemistry panel. These are rarely thought of in males and often present with confusing symptoms that cannot easily be identified. A hole in the heart is why I suggested a "bubble" echo. It is an abnormal opening that allows blood to shunt in the opposite direction it should be flowing. You might look at the lupus boards sticky notes and see if any other symptoms fit with you.

 
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:11 PM   #15
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Re: Is it possible to have clogged arteries at 23?

I did another EKG today and it was normal, that helps a bit I guess.

Last edited by Roar114; 06-24-2013 at 01:26 PM.

 
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