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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Tight Restricting Heart Pain Feels Like I Cant Get Enogh Air

 Concerned Diva - Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:54 pm

i am a 21 year old female and for the past two weeks i have unexpectedly gotten this dull kind of tight pain i have never felt before on what seems to be my heart. it comes and goes at no specific time or reason. it would come on real quick and sharp, then just linger around for about 5 to 10 mins with the tight restricting feeling, but right now i have had this tight restricting felling over my heart for about an hour maybe a little longer the feeling is in no other location at all just my heart. when it comes it seems like i cant get enough air. seems hard to breath. i keep taking deep breaths to get air but its not enough. i feel it when i breath and when i move it makes me want to stretch in a position that would open up the space around my heart or give my heart more room but that does not work. can you help me? maybe give me some possibilities of what this sounds like to you so i can talk to my doctor about it?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:26 pm

User avatar Hi there -- While I very much doubt this is actually heart-related, I'm not going to blow that off as a possibility for now. First, though, I would very much like to know where you believe your heart is located, since you use it as your frame of reference and most people mistakenly believe the heart lies in the left chest, near or below the left breast, which is not the case. The heart is located directly in the center in the chest beneath the breastbone and more or less centered along the imaginary line between the nipples. If this is, in fact, the affected area, even if this should be heart-related discomfort (and still I find it unlikely for a lot of reasons) it would more likely be a structural problem rather than coronary artery disease.

That said, I see you have asthma in your family history. You may well have it also, as it often presents with symptoms such as you describe, more so lately for some reason, with chest tightness and shortness of breath being major descriptors rather than the classic wheezing. Unfortunately another possibility that announces itself this way can be anxiety, which while not a dangerous medical problem, can often wind up being a crippling emotional problem because it is so insidious, unpredictable and because the patient is so often unaware of the anxiety. Frequently anxious people absolutely have no clue they are anxious and will deny a problem in the area in which it precisely exists. This only complicates the diagnosis of whatever the real problem may be. It also could be a chest wall inflammation problem, musculoskeletal, and the symptoms also fit that very well. Heart pain, even with structural disease, is rarely random and spontaneous and never "sharp" or "stabbing" in nature. It does, however, last longer than a few seconds, so the fact this pain lasts a few minutes after onset does leave me with no choice but to suggest you at least have a resting 12-lead EKG as part of a general evaluation to determine just what's going on. If this comes out looking good and there are no unusual heart sounds found by the doctor, then simpler explanations (chest wall irritation, even anxiety) can be explored at a more relaxed pace.

I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck with this and please follow up with us here as needed.

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