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- Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:57 pm
Hi. I'm an 18 year old high school student. About a week ago, I started experiencing discomfort in my right chest area. I can only describe it as a sort of pressure that comes and goes. I'm experiencing it right now.
The pressure isn't painful or anything- only uncomfortable, and for the first few days, I absentmindedly just rubbed the area with my hand. The pressure would stop temporarily, but restart later. I don't experience anything outside of the chest area. It would rarely occur during the mornings, but I would experience the discomfort again in late afternoon and in the evening. I have no trouble sleeping- the pressure seems to stop late at night.
I'm sedentary- I don't play sports, nor do I get any form of regular exercise after my gym class physical education requirements for high school were fulfilled. I'm 5'11'' and I weigh 160 lbs. The nurse told me that my blood pressure was 120/80 It seems that I spend most of my time at school and doing homework/ extracurricular activities in clubs.
I went to see my doctor, and he seemed a bit puzzled. He gave me an EKG, and it turned out normal. He gave me heartburn medication (prilosec OTC) sample packets to try at home and to report back to him. My parents have advised me not to take them, fearing that it may not be heartburn, and that adjustments in my diet would suffice. I'm inclined to take the medicine, but I'm not too sure.
What should I do?
| John Kenyon, CNA
- Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:50 pm
Hi there --
Well. Pressure in the right chest is rather atypical of cardiac problems, although it can occur there, and that way. However, being very atypical and coming away with a normal 12-lead EKG, the likelihood of it being heart related becomes very small, especially at your age. It could very well be gastric reflux (GERD), and it doesn't seem to be aggravated by exertion (although you apparently don't exert a lot; you might try hustling up a flight of stairs to see if that aggravates the symptom -- and if it doesn't then it's almost certainly non-cardiac, though if it does it proves very little). As for your parents advising you to not take the Prilosec, I'm perplexed by their reasoning. If it's not heartburn (GERD) then it will do nothing. It certainly won't mask heart symptoms. It's not heart medicine. On the other hand, if the sensation is due to GERD, it should help. In any case it won't hurt anything and you should try it on the off chance the doctor is right. Give it at least a week to work, too, as that doesn't always yield immediate relief.
Other things it may be are: interior chest all irritation; right-sided pnuemonia (although I'd guess your doctor listened to your chest and maybe even did an x-ray); Teitz' syndrome, which is an inflammation of cartilege between the ribs near the breastbone. This responds to over-the-counter anti-inflamatories like Advil and Aleve, but don't try those til after you've started the Prilosec, because if you DO have GERD, those can make it worse.
For the record, acute cardiac chest pain in men almost always IS described as pressure and deep burning pain, beneath the center of the breastbone, often radiating to the shoulders, arms, back and/or jaw. Nothing like what you're describing.
If your problem doesn't go away on its own and/or with Prilosec use, then by all means take it back to the doctor, but with an eye toward figuring out what is causing it, which is nto likely heart-related.
Hope this is helpful. Please follow up with us as needed. Godo luck to you.