Intermittent tachycardia, "tingling" and pain in left chest

Chest pain, dyspnea (shortness of breath)

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Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:45 pm
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Intermittent tachycardia, "tingling" and pain in left chest

Postby SoSimple » Sun Aug 02, 2009 7:00 pm

I'm posting this here because although tests don't show anything to do with my heart I'm at a loss as to what else it could be.

I've had instances - anywhere from once a week to a few times a day - where I've had one or more of the following symptoms (in decreasing order of frequency):

1. Tingling in the left arm, left hand, left chest and top of left foot. Feels like someone is rolling a pincushion over my skin with all the sharp ends pointing onto my skin.
2. Pain in left chest, sometimes dull ache in shoulder or shoulder blade. Most commonly feels like someone is pushing their thumb into me in the area of my heart: about a 5 or 6 on a 10 point scale. Sometimes has felt like an icepick in my chest (that sent me to the emergency room, though tests showed nothing); has also felt like someone was squeezing my heart, or poking it with a stiff finger (this also sent me to the ER - again tests showed nothing).
3. Tachycardia - around 120 beats/minute. This one is rare, but scary.

I've had the following tests done:
EKG, traditional stress test with treadmill and 10 lead EKG.
Also X-ray and full blood work for suspected heart attack. All results were negative.
Other miscellaneous blood work includes a full "standard" test - lipids (which were excellent), electrolytes, thyroid, glucose. Everything comes back normal.
On examination by a doctor, nothing seems to be abnormal in the chest, lung, heartbeat, stomach, basic neurology (reflexes are all fine).

Any ideas? Is this heart-related at all, or is it something else, and if the latter, what are the likely culprits?
Thanks for any assistance. I'd like to stop worrying about these symptoms/spending afternoons in the ER.

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John Kenyon, CNA
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Location: Laurel, MD

Re: Intermittent tachycardia, "tingling" and pain in left chest

Postby John Kenyon, CNA » Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:42 pm

Hello --

The symptoms overall don't sound cardiac-related. This, in conjunction with having ruled out heart problems pretty thoroughly, would suggest a problem in another area, possibly more than one.

The tingling sensations definitely sound like a nerve problem, especially since they are nothing like cardiac discomfort and the sensations extend to your foot. While they occur on one side of the body, this could be due to a vertebral compression of a nerve at some point -- difficult to say exactly where -- and even the chest pains could be related to something like this, but also do not sound much like they are cardiac related, and again that's been adequately ruled out anyway. I'm strongly suspicious of a vertebral compression somewhere, not sure what section, and this should be explored.

There is always the potential for what's known as co-morbidity, which simply means having more than one problem going on at the same time. It too often confuses the picture, as both patient and doctor tend to see all the symptoms as being connected even if they're not.

Finally, to address the issue of the mild tachycardia, it seems likely this is due to anxiety over the other symptoms. If it sounds too simple, that's because it is. Generally the sorts of symptoms you describe do provoke an emotional reaction and this, in turn, can cause heartbeat acceleration as well as premature ("skipped") beats and even temporary increases in blood pressure. All this generally just confuses the picture. Of course it could be something else, but because it's not very fast and only happens occasionally, it may warrant a not-very-urgent evaluation to make sure it's not caused by some relatively minor arrhythmia such as junctional tachycardia, which is harmless but noticeable and can often be eliminated by removing caffeine and/or nicotine from the patient's routine.

I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck with this and please feel free to follow up with us here as needed.
John Kenyon, EMT, CCT
Non-invasive cardiology tech, Emergency and Critical Care technician, Critical Incident Stress Mgmt. specialist

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