T Nation

Chest Heaviness/Discomfort

Have anyone ever experienced a heaviness in the chest (far left) before? I’ve been experiencing this from time to time, usually when I overexert myself, don’t get enough sleep, stressed out, tired. It happens for a day or two about every few weeks/months. The feeling isnt pain at all. Its more of a heaviness underneath the left pec. I was concerned it was the heart (even though it seems farther left than the heart), so I had a cardiogram done and everything was normal. I also had an MRI and that too was normal. It really doesn’t feel like a muscle thing, but the weird this: (I know how funny this may sound)when i take my left pec in my hand and squeeze hard, the pain goes away while I squeeze and for a period afterwards. Its kinda weird and whenever it happens it really concerns me. I’ve tried explaining my symptoms to the doc who gave me a cardio and she said I was fine.
I’m a young guy (20) so it can’t be a heart thing, can it??? Can this be soemthing serious??
Anyways, if anyone can point me in a direction, that would be great…thanks

I haven’t suffered through this particular one as described, but I’ve had my share of concerning symptoms. Sometimes I am quite sure that it is just “gas”. I’ve had some panic after exerting myself in the gym and then caught myself belching a couple of minutes later.

john im not sure we’re tlaking about the same thing here. i don’t think i’ve expereinced anything more than just regular belching.

anyone?

Hmm. You might look into seeing if you might have a pinched nerve or one that gets pinched or irritated when you do a certain movement. Do you notice if it happens after a certain workout? or extra exertion? Do you go to a chiro now?

You may want to consider that it may not be a medical problem at all.
Stress/anxiety can cause symptoms close to what you are describing.
Though I wouldn’t rule out further investigation. Just something to consider.

If you’re having episodes of angina, an EKG isn’t going to tell you anything unless it is severe. If you were older and experiencing chest pain on a regular basis, a cardiac catheterization would be able to show if you have narrowing of the coronary vessels. It is possible to have something going on with the heart no matter what age you are, but not likely at 20. I’ve heard of plenty of young people, including myself, who experience occasional left-sided chest discomfort. Most people say it’s costochondritis, inflammation of the cartilage in between the ribs, but this is another way of saying “I don’t know.”

Another possibility is acid reflux. It’s common to have pain with this, especially on deep inspiration or bending at the waist.

Give some more info regarding family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, etc. Do you take any meds or supplements such as ephedrine?

family history DOES have heart problems. My grandmother (mother’s side) has had I believe heart disease for most of her life and had a valve(?) replaced about 12 years ago. I will find out about the exact condition as soon as I can. My grandfather (mother’s side) passed away from a heart attack. My mother ocassionally complains about heart aches. My father’s mother I believe also had heart problems. It definately seems as though heart problems run in the family; thats what has got me worried. I can’t say i’ve ever felt a ‘pain’ but when it does happen, again, it feels like a 'heaviness on the top part of my left pec (a “pushing down” feeling). its slight, but its discomfort. thanks for your replies guys. I also think some in my family have complained about angina.

I will try to get more accurate family history next time, but thats what I know off the top of my head.

Simone is right. Anxiety can be a cause of the symptoms you’ve described. In fact, if you’ve had the EKG and MRI it is unlikely that the cause is your heart. I have personally experienced heaviness on my left side during periods where I was under large amounts of stress. My doc said the same thing. If the cause is costochondritis the feeling can sometimes intensified by pushing on or beside your sternum (breast bone). I have also experienced this and it tends to persist unless you avoid heavy chest movements to let it heal. Mine is still healing dammit!

I often get sharp pains right where my heart is when I inhail deeply. I wonder if you also get this and what the hell it is. Lately I’ve been having symptoms of walking pnemonia. I think they are passing though and the reason for that is because I stayed up 72 hours straight doing work for school.

no, have never had sharp pains before.

are there any other tests that I should take, since the EKG and MRI didn’t show anything abnormal?

thanks guys/gals

Scrub-

no i’ve never taken ephedrine or the like at any time.

Chest heaviness, tightness/squeezing can be classic signs of heart problems. A resting EKG will not necessarilly let you know if you have a blockage or not. You need to have a stress test done. Also, the next time you experience this feeling, you need to go get blood work done, specifically cardiac enzyme tests. Chest pain is nothing to fool around with. I have seen to many young people die from heart problems.

thanks don. “Stress test” is the name of the test?

Good idea Don. A stress test is basically and EKG done while performing exercise (usually treadmill or cycling). This will tend to show irregularities that a resting EKG would miss.

A stress test is used to check the bloodflow to the heart while doing near-maximal aerobic/anaerobic work. Normally this is done on a treadmill while hooked up to an EKG machine. The speed and/or incline is gradually increased until you hit your max heart rate. Your Physician will be constantly monitoring your EKG and vital signs for changes in either.

tryin - why did you have an MRI? It’s a pretty useless test when it comes to diagnosing heart problems. An echocardiogram can tell you if you have any structural defects, which is a common cause for sudden death in young athletes. At 20, it’s very unlikely that you have coronary artery disease, but a cardiac cath would have ruled this out instead of an MRI which basically tells you nothing. Hmmm.

A stress test isn’t a bad idea since you are experiencing the pain on exertion. It’s inexpensive and non-invasive, and if any changes show up on EKG, further tests will be performed. Since you have a strong family history of heart disease, and since you asked about other tests, you can also have bloodwork to check for substances that make your blood hypercoaguable (more likely to clot). Some of these things are relatively new to the medical world, and we’re starting to uncover many more factors besides cholesterol that lead to heart disease. To name a few: Protein C, Protein S, Factor V (Leiden), homocysteine, anti-thrombin III, anti-phospholipid antibodies, MTHFR, and ApoE.

hey thanks a lot guys i appreciate it. I would be interested in participating in a stress test, but i have a few (more practical) questions. Where do I get it (since its done on a treadmill, etc. it can’t be done in my primary doc’s office, correct)? Also, is this procedure expensive (i want to know whats wrong regardless of the cost, but what $$ should i expect)? Sounds like it may not be covered by insurance, huh?

stress test is covered by most insurances company if your doctor recommends it. I would highly recommed you seeing your doctor before jump into conculsion. You/ and we as forum memeber should not give out medical advise. Even if you are a doctor. Its better to diagnose a issue live then online. To many variable are in play.

In Health,

Silas C.

What you want is a Thalium Stress Test. It will show the blood flow and the working of your valves under varying levels of stress. Expensive but covered by insurance if your doctor orders it. More sophisticated then a regular EKG Stress Test.

Fitone, nobody is trying to diagnose him, but he didn’t get the answers he was looking for from his docs. All we’re doing is suggesting other tests, which he asked for. There is no harm in a patient getting as much info on his own so that he can help his doctor to help him.