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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: quick question---dull chest pain

 det - Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:53 am


i tried to search for this topic on this forum, but couldn't find something quite the same.

i'm in my early twenties, healthy, not overweight, no serious conditions in the past, i watch what i eat, and had been exercising regularly until a few months ago. very recently, i've felt a mild dull ache in the middle of my chest, in the sternum area, that comes and goes periodocially, not necessarily specific to exertion, sometimes appearing when i'm just sitting there. there are long stretches of times when there is no sensation. i can't quite tell if it's deep in the chest or on the surface. i also can't quite pinpoint under what situations it occurs, so i'm sorry i can't say more. i did have an ECG done (where one lies down, hooked up to electrodes, while measurements are taken) about 6 months ago as part of a check up, and also a blood test, along with chest x rays, and everything was normal, according to the doc.

i do have some family history of heart disease, the reason i'm worried. if you could please let me know if this should be a cause of serious concern, or whether i should really see a doc, i'd appreciate your time. if there are other signs i should be looking for, please do let me know.

thanks so much.
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Sat Feb 09, 2008 10:45 pm

User avatar Hello Det,

Having the ECG's was appropriate since dull chest pain occasionally can be heart related. Given that you are young and, it sounds like, in pretty good shape, heart problems are a bit less likely. Even still, one would not want to be wrong about the heart so having it evaluated is a good idea.

Other, more likely causes include gastroesophageal reflux (indigestion) that can present solely as chest discomfort, pleurisy (inflammation of the lining of the lungs/chest wall) or costochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage part of the ribs). Pleurisy is typically made worse by taking a deep breath. Costochondritis typically has pain that is reproducible by pressing on the area that hurts.

When you are having this pain you may want to try taking an antacid (such as tums or mylanta) to see if this helps some. If it does, reflux is very likely.

If this pain gets worse or doesn't go away I would recommend you see your doctor.

Best wishes.
 det - Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:55 am

dr. lowe,

thank you for the response. i have a follow up question, and i would appreciate it if you could please bear with me.

lately, i've started exercising, and when i'm at the point of cardiac exertion during running, i feel a discomfort in my chest that is sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left, and is not necessarily at a single spot everytime. it has not quite been under my sternum, however, but does seem to be in the upper half of the ribcage. if i breathe deeper, the pain tends to be greater. i would not call it sharp per se, but i can definitely feel a pointed pain at certain locations even if i'm not trying to take very deep breaths. again, this is only during exertion. i had not exercised in about a year till just recently, so perhaps it is my system getting used to the strain of running and maybe it'll go away as i run more and more. in the past, i would, of course, feel that fatigue and discomfort in the chest that comes with exertion, and my memory could certainly be wrong, but this seems different. also, when i'm lifting weights, there is no discomfort that i feel, but it is there when i do cardio workouts, i.e. running.

a few times, i've also felt a numbness in my left forearm (only while sitting, no exertion), something that scares me even more. the numbness, at least to my knowledge, doesn't accompany chest pains or other symptoms.

i am rather worried, and i'm sorry that my descriptions are vague. i feel like i'm too young to get heart disease, and though i'm far from perfect, i try to watch my diet, and coronary artery disease is frankly a frightening prospect. do you think i'm worrying unnecessarily, or could the symptoms i've described be indicative of something? is there anything you would recommend?

thanks so much
 det - Mon Feb 18, 2008 3:05 am

i apologise for the second post, but the forearm numbness is not in the entire forearm, just perhaps near the elbow, sometimes at the wrist region, so more "patchy" if you will.

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