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    Old 02-24-2004, 11:30 AM   #1
    sugarplum_pdx
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    Chest discomfort for 6 months

    For the last 6 months or so I've been having this discomfort in my chest. It feels like a need to cough all the time, and I also feel like I have mucous in my throat all the time, but the cough doesn't produce much. It also feels like a tightness in my chest, and I often feel like it's hard to get a deep breath. I feel like the air is coming in, but there's not enough oxygen in it. Sometimes it also feels like a burning sensation in my chest, but not exactly like heartburn. When I breathe out hard, there's a wheezing at the end.

    I've been to the doctor a few times for this concern. He did an EKG, which was normal. He has listened to my heart and my lungs and said things sounded fine. I'm 31 and female, and have no known family history of heart disease. My doctor doesn't think I have heart problems. My BP elevates in the doctor's office, but it is fine at home.

    But I can't shake the feeling that I have heart problems. Sometimes I've gotten nauseous after exertion and the chest discomfort/shortness of breath also gets worse. I've gotten chills and hot flashes on and off. I keep worrying it's a heart attack, but then I mostly feel better, and I tell myself, "If you've had these symptoms for 6 months, and it hasn't really changed much, it couldn't be a heart attack."

    I plan to get a chest x-ray soon and maybe will ask for echo and other heart tests, but my doctor doesn't seem to think those are necessary. He thinks I have acid reflux (and maybe I do). But acid reflux meds haven't helped much.

    A couple questions:
    If I have heart disease, wouldn't it have gotten a lot worse in 6 months?
    Wouldn't my doctor see signs if it was something really serious?
    If my BP is normal, is that a good sign that I don't have heart disease?
    Could I feel normal a lot of the time if I had a heart problem?

     
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    Old 02-24-2004, 11:41 AM   #2
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    Re: Chest discomfort for 6 months

    I would see a cardioligist. An EKG clear and OK blood pressure is no guarantee (I sincerely hope you do not have heart disease). Have you also checked for diabetes? Some of the symptoms sound like hypogycema. I amay be wrong I am not qualified.

    All I can say is I had a heart attack two and half years ago and there was no warning. I left the hospital with an implanted defibrillator. After that I was doing fine until recently when I started to feel sick at times but was able to go about normal activities. I saw a cardio logist and he did EKG, echocardiogram and even a stress test and concluded there was nothing heart related. Because of my persistence he sent me to hospital for an angiogram. Then they found two blocked vessels close to my heart! They dilated the vessels with stents and I feel a lot better. But again today I found myself feeling sick again with tightness in the chest. I am diabetic. Maybe it may be related to diabetes I do not know and thats what I am going to follow up.

    I would say to pursue your case with a cardiologist for a full examination and an endocrinologist if needed later.
    Cheers
    Raja


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sugarplum_pdx
    For the last 6 months or so I've been having this discomfort in my chest. It feels like a need to cough all the time, and I also feel like I have mucous in my throat all the time, but the cough doesn't produce much. It also feels like a tightness in my chest, and I often feel like it's hard to get a deep breath. I feel like the air is coming in, but there's not enough oxygen in it. Sometimes it also feels like a burning sensation in my chest, but not exactly like heartburn. When I breathe out hard, there's a wheezing at the end.

    I've been to the doctor a few times for this concern. He did an EKG, which was normal. He has listened to my heart and my lungs and said things sounded fine. I'm 31 and female, and have no known family history of heart disease. My doctor doesn't think I have heart problems. My BP elevates in the doctor's office, but it is fine at home.

    But I can't shake the feeling that I have heart problems. Sometimes I've gotten nauseous after exertion and the chest discomfort/shortness of breath also gets worse. I've gotten chills and hot flashes on and off. I keep worrying it's a heart attack, but then I mostly feel better, and I tell myself, "If you've had these symptoms for 6 months, and it hasn't really changed much, it couldn't be a heart attack."

    I plan to get a chest x-ray soon and maybe will ask for echo and other heart tests, but my doctor doesn't seem to think those are necessary. He thinks I have acid reflux (and maybe I do). But acid reflux meds haven't helped much.

    A couple questions:
    If I have heart disease, wouldn't it have gotten a lot worse in 6 months?
    Wouldn't my doctor see signs if it was something really serious?
    If my BP is normal, is that a good sign that I don't have heart disease?
    Could I feel normal a lot of the time if I had a heart problem?

     
    Old 02-24-2004, 05:11 PM   #3
    Machaon
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    Re: Chest discomfort for 6 months

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sugarplum_pdx
    A couple questions:
    If I have heart disease, wouldn't it have gotten a lot worse in 6 months?
    Wouldn't my doctor see signs if it was something really serious?
    If my BP is normal, is that a good sign that I don't have heart disease?
    Could I feel normal a lot of the time if I had a heart problem?
    A heart that has an electrical problem, will misbehave when something irritates it, and can work fairly well when it is not irritated.

    The heart is a remarkably organ. A damaged heart can actually function fairly well even at only 25% of functionality.

    That said, did the doctor suggest that you might have Asthma? I've got both advanced heart disease and asthma. When I get symptoms such as a tight chest and difficulty breathing, most of the time I don't know whether it is my heart having difficulties, or my asthma acting up.

    I usually try a nitro under my tongue first. If that doesn't help, I use my asthma bronchodilator.

     
    Old 02-24-2004, 11:15 PM   #4
    Tony1
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    Re: Chest discomfort for 6 months

    Is the chest discomfort constant? I had a trip to the ER w/chest tightness that would not go away. They told me I didn't have a heart attack. Went to my internest and had ekg, and exercise stress test. Then I saw a Dr. at the same clinic from the Texas Heart Institute. After looking at my chart the cardiologist asked me first if it was constant tightness and then w/confidence said, "it's not your heart." I had blood work done to check thyroid too. He did another ekg although from everything I read by other posters is not the best test. I was having chest tightness, some teeth pain and upper back pain during this ekg and it was normal again. It was my third. My discomfort has lasted 7 weeks now going on 8. I don't doubt that this was a good cardiologist that performs many angio's, etc. I may still go in for a thallium stress test if I don't feel better soon. I also suffer from great anxiety and panic disorder that makes it even harder to distinguish. I search all over the internet and have come across a few people who have had this test and that test only to later find with a more predictive test like an angiogram something is wrong. This keeps my anxiety levels up and makes me panic everytime I have a sharp pain in my chest or when the tightness gets worse when I feel panicky. One thing someone did say to me about reading experiences of others on the internet is that usually people who have had side effects from meds, surgery problems, misdiagnoses, etc. tend to seek boards out more than those for whom things go smoothly. Anyway I still believe the best thing you could do is go to a cardiologist, have your history and risk factors looked at and a stress test and see what they think from that point. I asked my cardiologist about a thallium test and he said sure if you want one but it most likely is just going to cost you alot to find out your fine. But I am I still thinking something is a miss.

     
    Old 02-25-2004, 06:29 AM   #5
    zip2play
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    Re: Chest discomfort for 6 months

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sugarplum_pdx
    1.
    I tell myself, "If you've had these symptoms for 6 months, and it hasn't really changed much, it couldn't be a heart attack."

    2.
    I plan to get a chest x-ray soon and maybe will ask for echo and other heart tests, but my doctor doesn't seem to think those are necessary. He thinks I have acid reflux (and maybe I do). But acid reflux meds haven't helped much.

    3.
    A couple questions:
    a.If I have heart disease, wouldn't it have gotten a lot worse in 6 months?
    b.Wouldn't my doctor see signs if it was something really serious?
    c.If my BP is normal, is that a good sign that I don't have heart disease?
    d.Could I feel normal a lot of the time if I had a heart problem?
    In order then ,
    1. You're, right...it's definitely NOT a heart attack.
    2. That's the right approach. The echo-cardiogram WITH stress and a marker (marker is VERY important) will tell you if you have heart failure or any enlargement...the marker will pick up any ischemia (pain from arterial disease)
    3.
    a.Nope, heart disease can progress VERY slowly over the years.
    b. Your doctor will not see anything without the sophisticated testing tools.
    c.A normal BP is good but definitely not diagnostic.
    d. Sure, you can feel in tip-top condition most of the time with even a severly impaired heart BUT not under stress.

    Stress test with echo and marker will answer all your questions...if suspicious, then an angiogram will be called for.

     
    Old 02-25-2004, 07:51 AM   #6
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    Re: Chest discomfort for 6 months

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zip2play
    In order then ,
    1. You're, right...it's definitely NOT a heart attack.
    2. That's the right approach. The echo-cardiogram WITH stress and a marker (marker is VERY important) will tell you if you have heart failure or any enlargement...the marker will pick up any ischemia (pain from arterial disease)
    3.
    a.Nope, heart disease can progress VERY slowly over the years.
    b. Your doctor will not see anything without the sophisticated testing tools.
    c.A normal BP is good but definitely not diagnostic.
    d. Sure, you can feel in tip-top condition most of the time with even a severly impaired heart BUT not under stress.

    Stress test with echo and marker will answer all your questions...if suspicious, then an angiogram will be called for.
    One question: The quickest and easiest thing for me to get right now is a chest x-ray. I've read on the internet that a chest x-ray can show heart abnormalities such as enlargement, congestive heart failure, etc. I know one thing it can't show is blocked arteries, but I highly doubt I have that. Do you think the chest x-ray is likely to be a good indicator of what to do next? I'm aware that it is not considered a definitive test for heart problems. But can it help?

    The reason I say I doubt I have blocked arteries is because my chest discomfort is highly associated with coughing and throat irritation along with the air hunger. As far as I've read, these aren't typical symptoms of heart disease, except congestive heart failure or something that causes fluid around the heart (like an enlargement?) which can affect the lungs.

    Last edited by sugarplum_pdx; 02-25-2004 at 07:54 AM.

     
    Old 02-25-2004, 08:02 AM   #7
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    Re: Chest discomfort for 6 months

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tony1
    Is the chest discomfort constant? I had a trip to the ER w/chest tightness that would not go away. They told me I didn't have a heart attack. Went to my internest and had ekg, and exercise stress test. Then I saw a Dr. at the same clinic from the Texas Heart Institute. After looking at my chart the cardiologist asked me first if it was constant tightness and then w/confidence said, "it's not your heart." I had blood work done to check thyroid too. He did another ekg although from everything I read by other posters is not the best test. I was having chest tightness, some teeth pain and upper back pain during this ekg and it was normal again. It was my third. My discomfort has lasted 7 weeks now going on 8. I don't doubt that this was a good cardiologist that performs many angio's, etc. I may still go in for a thallium stress test if I don't feel better soon. I also suffer from great anxiety and panic disorder that makes it even harder to distinguish. I search all over the internet and have come across a few people who have had this test and that test only to later find with a more predictive test like an angiogram something is wrong. This keeps my anxiety levels up and makes me panic everytime I have a sharp pain in my chest or when the tightness gets worse when I feel panicky. One thing someone did say to me about reading experiences of others on the internet is that usually people who have had side effects from meds, surgery problems, misdiagnoses, etc. tend to seek boards out more than those for whom things go smoothly. Anyway I still believe the best thing you could do is go to a cardiologist, have your history and risk factors looked at and a stress test and see what they think from that point. I asked my cardiologist about a thallium test and he said sure if you want one but it most likely is just going to cost you alot to find out your fine. But I am I still thinking something is a miss.
    It's pretty much constant. It feels worse at certain times but I don't think it ever goes away. It seems to go away more when I'm not thinking about it. It doesn't bother me when I'm sleeping, but when I wake up I feel that irritated feeling in my chest. As I said in my first post, it's a cough-type feeling. It actually feels primarily like I have a chest infection, but my doctor said if I don't have a fever, it couldn't be bronchitis or anything like that. An earlier reply to this post suggested asthma. And that's the closest thing I can find right now that causes similar symptoms to what I'm feeling ... except I've never had asthma and I thought asthma had to be set off by certain triggers, not just present all the time.

    Anyway, I totally relate to what you were saying about how people on message boards tend to say "even if you've been checked out by a cardiologist and they say you're okay, they could've missed something." I know they are relating their personal experiences and they have the best intentions, but honestly, I don't always want to hear the worst case scenario. I don't want to think that even when a highly qualified physician tells me I'm okay, I shouldn't believe him. That would just make me crazy ... I worry enough as it is. And I think you're right that it's usually people who have had bad experiences who stick around on message boards and share their bad experiences, compared to those for whom things turned out fine (who are probably the vast majority of people who have worries about their hearts).

     
    Old 02-25-2004, 08:46 AM   #8
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    Re: Chest discomfort for 6 months

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sugarplum_pdx
    An earlier reply to this post suggested asthma. And that's the closest thing I can find right now that causes similar symptoms to what I'm feeling ... except I've never had asthma and I thought asthma had to be set off by certain triggers, not just present all the time.
    Asthma is caused when someone comes into contact with one or more allergens or irritants. Since our bodies are constantly being attacked by pollens and pollutants in the air, and with food additives, and with chemicals in our clothes, and with stress and tension, an asthmatic person can be effected in many different ways, from a severe asthmatic attack, to constant wheezing and labored breathing.

    Quote:
    Anyway, I totally relate to what you were saying about how people on message boards tend to say "even if you've been checked out by a cardiologist and they say you're okay, they could've missed something." I know they are relating their personal experiences and they have the best intentions, but honestly, I don't always want to hear the worst case scenario. I don't want to think that even when a highly qualified physician tells me I'm okay, I shouldn't believe him. That would just make me crazy ... I worry enough as it is.
    Well...... you could look at both the good news and the bad news. When a highly qualified physician tells you that you are OK, they are saying that you are OK at that time. They are telling you that they cannot find a noticable defect in your body. That is great! It should make you happy and relax you.

    If your condition is not acting up during the doctor examination, he might not find anything. I've got advanced heart disease. It is worse at night. So..... when the doctor checks me during the day, he does not witness how bad my heart acts at night. Fortunately there are machines, like the Holter, that can monitor a patient for 24 hours and show the range in a person's disease over a 24 hour period.

    Best of luck and health!

     
    Old 02-25-2004, 12:06 PM   #9
    Tony1
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    Re: Chest discomfort for 6 months

    Sugar plum, I really think it would be more helpful when someone comments about I have this or that or this happened to me if they gave more background. I mean if someone comes on here and says the stress test was negative and the dr. said I was fine but the symptoms persisted so I had an angiogram and bam! a blocked artery. Well to someone reading this, this is scarey if you just had a stress test and are worried about your heart. Now how about adding some background ie, i smoked 15 years, I am 47 yrs old with a high blood pressure and a family history of heart disease. Sugarlum may be 28 with no family history, etc and now sitting there worrying when the percentages are much lower. I saw a post where someone had an angiogram with no blockages and someone commented that was good and bad. They commented that there could still be blockages farther up that an angiogram doesn't pick up. I mean what can you do now! I just think some extra info would be helpful. AND I completely understand and appreciate how everyone says well I had this done and they found this later because you shouldn't take chances with your heart and I believe dr.s sometimes just rush you through when there really could be something wrong. I remember when I had chronic headaches and had an mri to check for a tumor. Everything was fine. Then I read on a headache board that someones husband was checked, given the clear but still had headaches. They got home and all of the sudden he had an aneurysm rupture that had been pressing on a nerve causing the headaches all this time. This person died and after that I was a basket case until I had an mra done to check for aneurysms that may be pressing on a nerve. Usually aneuyrsms are not associated with headaches until a rupture. Anyway I am still having chest tightness, back aches and even teeth aches that are all symptoms of angina/blocked artery. I obsess about it now and really believe that somthing is still wrong with me because I read all the time that a stress test is worthless for diagnosing blocked arteries. Zip2play has been a huge help with me calming down a bit by relating the classic symptoms of angina. Just yesterday I jogged 2 miles and walked 2 more for some execise and did not have chest tightness. I did have teeth pain and bad headache during this though. I still think my symptoms of angina are just presenting as teeth pain or upper back pain. Sorry to ramble about my problems I need to start my own post.

     
    Old 02-25-2004, 01:19 PM   #10
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    Re: Chest discomfort for 6 months

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tony1
    Sugar plum, I really think it would be more helpful when someone comments about I have this or that or this happened to me if they gave more background. I mean if someone comes on here and says the stress test was negative and the dr. said I was fine but the symptoms persisted so I had an angiogram and bam! a blocked artery. Well to someone reading this, this is scarey if you just had a stress test and are worried about your heart. Now how about adding some background ie, i smoked 15 years, I am 47 yrs old with a high blood pressure and a family history of heart disease. Sugarlum may be 28 with no family history, etc and now sitting there worrying when the percentages are much lower. I saw a post where someone had an angiogram with no blockages and someone commented that was good and bad. They commented that there could still be blockages farther up that an angiogram doesn't pick up. I mean what can you do now! I just think some extra info would be helpful. AND I completely understand and appreciate how everyone says well I had this done and they found this later because you shouldn't take chances with your heart and I believe dr.s sometimes just rush you through when there really could be something wrong. I remember when I had chronic headaches and had an mri to check for a tumor. Everything was fine. Then I read on a headache board that someones husband was checked, given the clear but still had headaches. They got home and all of the sudden he had an aneurysm rupture that had been pressing on a nerve causing the headaches all this time. This person died and after that I was a basket case until I had an mra done to check for aneurysms that may be pressing on a nerve. Usually aneuyrsms are not associated with headaches until a rupture. Anyway I am still having chest tightness, back aches and even teeth aches that are all symptoms of angina/blocked artery. I obsess about it now and really believe that somthing is still wrong with me because I read all the time that a stress test is worthless for diagnosing blocked arteries. Zip2play has been a huge help with me calming down a bit by relating the classic symptoms of angina. Just yesterday I jogged 2 miles and walked 2 more for some execise and did not have chest tightness. I did have teeth pain and bad headache during this though. I still think my symptoms of angina are just presenting as teeth pain or upper back pain. Sorry to ramble about my problems I need to start my own post.
    Tony, I totally agree. I have read your other posts and I personally think you are probably fine. I'm not saying you shouldn't have more tests if you want to be absolutely certain. But there comes a time when you have to give it up. There is always a chance that any of us could be struck with some catastrophic illness like an aneurysm with no warning whatsoever, and there's nothing we can do about it. People say "well I had this and there was no warning" -- well if there's no warning then you couldn't have done anything and neither can anyone else! All we can do is try to eliminate our risk factors and take preventive measures. We can't just go to doctors continually on the assumption that we MUST have something, even though we've had all the standard tests and found nothing.

    And I agree with what you said about background. It's a different story for someone who's over 50 and has been a smoker for many years than for someone who is 30 and has never smoked or had any health problems. The person over 50 should probably go to the cardiologist more often and have more extensive tests than the person who's 30. I also think that people who did end up eventually finding heart disease after being given a clean bill of health by a cardiologist are the exception, not the rule by any means.

     
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