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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Constant Chest Pressure

 kim1champ - Fri Jul 01, 2005 5:17 pm

I am a 31 year old female that has been experieincing intermittent chest pressure throughout the last six months. In December,I had an EKG Stress test which was normal. In the last month the pressure has become consistent lasting almost all day. Basic symptoms are as follows:

Mild to Moderate Chest Pressure (right in the middle of the chest above the breast bone adn/or left breast)
Left arm aches, does not hurt but aches. Sometimes the jaw aches as well
Cannot always get a deep breath

I went to the doctor in early June and she thought it was GERD. She perscribed Protonix and Xanax in case this was caused by Anxiety (I have a high stress job in information technology for a healthsystem) The protonix has not helped. The Xanax helps me sleep but does not alliveate symptoms. It was much worse Sunday night and the aching was radiating to my left ar, I went to the ER fearing I was having a heart attack. EKG, Chest X-Ray, Lipid Panel, Troponin were all normal. I went back to the doctor yesterday and she continues to say it is GERD and perscribed different meds.

The pressure now lasts all day long in the center of my chest. With my arm, jaw or back aching about 50% of the time. It does not seem to react based upon what I am eating, it is simply there. Any ideas? I am scared to death this is cardiac but the only risk factors I have are family history and that I am overweight with slighlity high blood pressure.
 Shannon Morgan, CMA - Fri Jul 01, 2005 6:02 pm

User avatar Cardiac causes have been ruled out; it could be other things.

I do believe you have an anxiety component to this, even though the Xanax didn't help. There are many other medicines you can try.

That said, other possible physical problems like TMJ disorder could explain your jaw/ear pain, that is a classic TMJ symptom. TMJ is inflammation of the joint that connects your upper and lower jaw. High stress causes some people to grind their teeth at night and/or clench the jaw subconsciously when very stressed or anxious. This causes pain in the joint, and it can often radiate to the ear.

The neck is another area that anxiety/stress focuses on. We tend to get tension in the neck, which can eventually cause pain down the arm because the nerves to the arms and upper body originate in the cervical spine.

Chest pressure/pain and/or upper back pain is another classic feature of anxiety, with the feeling of not being able to get a deep breath. The more these symptoms happen, the more we think about them, and it becomes a cycle.

GERD is also a part of stress and anxiety for many people, since stress causes the stomach to overproduce acid which causes chest pain.

Talk to your doctor about trying something different for the stress/anxiety or better yet, see a psychiatrist, they are much better equipped to effectively treat these things.

Since you have been cleared, you really should start a moderate, regular exercise program. It relieves stress and anxiety, sometimes to the point you don't need medicine. And since you're already overweight with hypertension and risk factors, it would be a good idea to get fit and lose weight now, rather than waiting for the damage to occur.
 kim1champ - Mon Jul 04, 2005 8:35 pm

Thanks for your help. One last question for you. If the EKG was normal last week in the ER since it is just a snap shot is it reasonable that it for sure isn't the heart? What if the damage hadn't occured yet?
 Shannon Morgan, CMA - Tue Jul 05, 2005 7:53 am

User avatar You had a full stress test in December for these exact symptoms, and the blood tests if you were/had had a heart attack of any kind would have showed an abnormality then.

The more you worry, the longer the symptoms will be there; talk to a psychiatrist about treating your anxiety and start an exercise program. You will be feeling much better once you get that under control.

Should your symptoms increase or should new symptoms arise then you should consult your physician immediately.
 kim1champ - Tue Jul 05, 2005 11:04 am

Thanks again. I appreciate the advice and am dedicated to doing just that-reducing this anxiety.

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