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Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Chest and left arm pain with constant belching


 cosmo09 - Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:51 pm

I am a 37 yo male, 5'10'' 180lbs., non-smoker, no family history of heart disease.
In the last few days I have been experiencing sudden pains in the left side of my chest and in my left arm, accompanied by constant belching throughout the day. The pain would come and go, lasting a few seconds, sometimes dull, sometimes sharp, sometimes just a burning. I would get it at different times of the day, regardless of my activities.
I have had this in the past, although the symptoms were slightly different, as I also had a lump in my throat to go with belching and chest pain. I did all kind of cardiology tests (last time was 6-7 months ago): two stress tests, lab analysis, ultrasound. Everything OK: the cardiologist said go home, your heart is fine. I was sent to a gastroentherologist, and was given a barium swallow which only evidenced some reflux. I was diagnosed an esophagitis, possible GERD. I took Nexium, symptoms went away, coming back only occasionally.
Now, in the last week or so they came back. I started taking Nexium again, but it's giving me no relief. I know it's very likely that this is a gastroenterologic problem, but I'm still worried. I have also read that belching "could" also be a symptom of heart attack: although, does this apply to such frequent belching? The pains in the chest and arm are getting me very worried. Is it possible that this could be caused by some kind of blockage that could eventually lead to heart disease? How could I be absolutely positive that my heart is out of the picture? I have read about a test in which they inject you in the bloodstream something that reacts to x-ray, hence evidencing any kind of blockage in a vein or an artery. How is this test called? Could it help me finally achieve piece of mind and to make me sure that my problems are confined to my digestive tract?
Thank you very much for your time
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:35 pm

User avatar Hi Cosmo09,

Your symptoms that you are describing are actually all very consistent with gastroesophageal reflux. Given your past history, I think this is probably most likely. However, when the heart is possibly involved, the stakes of being wrong go up so it is always safest to do some testing for the heart. This would basically involve an EKG to look for any changes consistent with heart problems.

The cardiac test you are referring to is known as a cardiac catheterization. Unfortunately, it is actually much more involved than simply injecting dye into the vein and taking an x-ray. It requires placing a large IV into the groin vein and then inserting a wire that goes all they way up into the heart. The dye is then injected into the are directly at the opening of the cardiac arteries (the coronaries). The procedure can have significant side effects and has some recovery time so it is usually only done when there is already evidence of a problem.

I would suggest you see your doctor again for a full check up. This way you can address the heart issue and see if there is other treatment needed for your symptoms.

Best wishes.

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