Chest pains, but Doc says no heart problems?!

I am asking out of curiousity...I recently went to the local er because I was experiencing chest pain that radiated to my left shoulder blade and throughout my left arm and hand. I had several tests run...ekg, ecg, chest x-ray, blood work, stress test, etc. The Cardio Doc said he could find no indications of heart disease or other cardo problem. All good, except, I am still experiencing chest pain. I am only 30, but heart disease runs on both sides of my family. My risk factors due to family history are fairly high. I am generally healthy with no other problems...any advice??

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There are a lot of stories here from a lot of women who had symptoms like yours and were told (often for extended periods of time) there was nothing wrong with their hearts. You know your body. Don't give up. Find another doctor....one who will take you seriously. You're smart to be paying attention to your risk factors. You came to the right place.

Take care and best wishes.

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I agree with the above comment. Get a second opinion. Trust your body.

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I would go for another opinion. I had the same problem. I went to the ER and was admitted spent 3 days and had several tests done. The cardiologist said it was acid refux. I didn't believe him but went home anyway. That night the chest pain was horrible. Short version of the story is I went to a new cardiologist 10 days later and they took me straight from the office down for surgery. She opened a 95 % blockage and told me I was very lucky to be alive. She found several other blockages that can't be fixed and other heart problems that are being treated with medication.
So my advice is always get a second opinion. Your life could depend on it. If they find nothing wrong then that is great but it is best to be safe. At least you will know.
Take care
Annie

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Hello:

I cannot agree with what the other ladies have said already enough. When you get a chance, please read my discussion "Angina, Coronary Artery Spasms -Is this My Life?
Posted Thursday June 1, 2006 at 10:37 PM EDT in My Heart Disease - Diagnosis and Symptoms". Please read each of my entires and you will see how much my story is like yours. I have a strong family history on both sides of heart disease. My father died at 54 of a heart attack. I was treated like a mental case because I am female and have teenagers - my symptoms had to be stress related they said. I was 39, but I can still relate to you. I have never had an abnormal EKG. I would race to the doctor or ER during attacks but by the time they got my hooked up, everything was fine. My echo, blood work, etc. all indicated nothing was amiss. I passed a normal stress test with flying colors. After demanding an angiogram, a 98% blockage of my LAD was found. I should not be alive. Women often give false negatives in stress tests. My current cardio listens to me and did a nuclear stress test with dye injection last Aug. That found my 2nd blockage. I am on my way to see him today. My symptoms have returned with a vengance. I am bringing my bag and not leaving without an angiogram. That is the only way to be 100% certain there are no blockages or plaque build up in the heart. Find a doctor who will listen to you. Being young and female does not mean you cannot have heart disease. It just means you will have to fight like H&#l to get a diagnosis and the treatment you deserve.

My symptoms are different this time - more subtle in some ways, but more extreme in others. They are not "classic". I know my body and I know with a fair degreee of certainty that I have another blockage, a problem with a stent or some other plaque issue. You know your body - trust your instincts. As long as you are having pain, seek an answer.

Take care and let us know how you are doing -

Dianna

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Dear eky -- I agree with all the others re getting a cardio second opinion. And, on top of that, you might ask to have an ultrasound done of your gall bladder. Six years ago, I had symptoms like yours, including numbness in my arm. After 3 days in the hospital, they found that I did have a bundled branch block which they sort of ignored at the time. They also found that my gall bladder was riddled with stones so I had surgery to remove the gall bladder. The docs felt that my pain (lower chest,/upper abodomen) was probably caused by gall bladder.

But, one year ago, I ended up 911'ing to ER with a complete heart block. So.... now I wonder if the episode 6 years ago was really more cardio-related than they thought. Who knows?

Get another look!! Hugs, laura

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My mom had the same problems, granted she is quite bit older than you. But same thing-chest pain, normal ekg, normal stress test, etc. Turns out she had three blockages and has since had stents inplanted-that failed and has since had triple bypass surgery. If at all possible-you should try to find a woman cardiologist. I hope it is nothing serious, but better to get a second, maybe third opinion.

Good luck.

jd

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I thank each of you for your words of advice and encouragement.
I followed up with my family doc today. He ordered an ultrasound of my Gall Bladder...to my relief or dismay, that ultrasound also left my chest pain undiagnosed. My Gall Bladder is in perfect shape and no stones were found. He decided I am suffering from Costochondritis. The doc says that with all of my other joints popping and cracking, this is probably what my pain is. He wants me to take 3 advil per day as needed for the chest pain. I will give it a go for a few days, but I am just not certain that is the right diagnosis.

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If you are still having chest pain and feel like something is wrong, continue to alert your doctors and press them for more tests, treatment, etc. You have to be your own advocate!! I wish I would have done the same before my heart attack. I went to the ER twice (2 diffrent ER's too) for chest pain in the two weeks prior to my major heart attack. I was told both times that my EKG's, blood work, etc all looked good and because I was so young (33) that my risk was very low that I could be having heart problems. Well two weeks later around 11PM one night I suffered a major heart attack at my home, was rushed to the hospital and had to have 2 stents put in and spent 4 days in ICU.

So, this goes to show, you know your own body better than any doctor ever could. And doctors are not always right!! I am at home recovering from a heart attack right now because I wasn't taken seriously. Do not ever dismiss chest pain as nothing!!

Best of Luck

Karen

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Two weeks before my triple bypass where one artery was 90% blocked, I was prescribed antacids for heartburn at the Drs. I also had a family history of heart disease and diabetes. The other comments are right ..listen to your body, trust your instincts, and it doesn't hurt to be cautious. The Drs and technicians all get paid even if the results are negative.

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I just fume when I read stories about women's symptoms being ignored or trivialized. That is why forums such as this are so important. We all know that a skinny, physically fit, 25 year old woman can have a heart attack, now we need to educate the rest of the world. In the meantime a few precautionary steps are in order:
1. Make sure right now that your 911 response team knows exactly where you are located -- every minute makes a difference when the time comes.
2. DO NOT try to drive yourself or even have your husband drive you to emergency, call 911--every minutes makes a difference. They get you into the ER immediately, no waiting, no forms, etc.
3. Take an aspirin right away.
4. Get the prayer chain started. That should be the second call your husband makes right after 911.
What I'm trying to say is, be prepared. We have to take these precautions ourselves since so many health care professionals won't take our symptoms seriously.
I was fortunate in that my husband, the 911 response team and ER staff all took me seriously and moved quickly and effectively. If my heart had stopped beating at home rather than in the ER I wouldn't be here now.

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Like 90 % of the ladies here, I was diagnoised with Gerd, Esophugus spasms, and gallbladder disease. I was scheduled to have my gallbladder out, but my gut instinct told me that my pain was not my gallbladder. Now Im not saying my gallbladder is functioning correctly...it isn't..but the pain I was having was not gallbladder pain. But Gastrologist and Family MD believed that it had to be the problem...I was to young for it to be my heart...yada yada yada. I refused to have my gallbladder out until they could prove to me once again it was not my heart. I was afraid I would die on the operating table from heart attack. My Dr. scheduled my thallium stress test and laughed and said once you get the resluts and get that gallbladder out your pain will be gone. Next day after faiing the test miserably...I was being stented in my LAD. It took 7 years and 6 Dr. to finally get the corect diagnosis (CAD). If I hadn't been persistent over the years....who know when I would have had my massive heart attack in the "widow maker". Follow your gut and put your life into your own hands...because I promise you...your DR.'s are following statistics. I am 38 with no family history. I am very active and about 10 pounds over weight. I did smoke but quit 7 years ago after getting pregnant. My family MD felt soooooo guilty afterwards..that he sent my file to 10 cardiologist around town to see if they would have done anything different. I don't blame my Dr., because he sent me to the 3 different cardiologist ordering test over the 7 years. I had every test ran except the cath...and all the Dr. did not want to do without more evidence or more risk factors. Sorry to go on and on. Just remember to be your own advocate.

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I was doing a little "research" yesterday and was disturbed to find the following on a hospital web-site in a description of heart disease risk factors. Not a direct quote, but it said that there are some risk factors we can change....like diet, exercise, etc., but there are some that we can't. And the first one it listed as a risk factor we can't change is GENDER. Huh? They list gender as a risk factor for heart disease?

Yes, they do. The first "risk factor" on the list was "Being a male over the age of 35." The second was "Being a woman past the age of menopause."

I was shocked..but there it was in black and white.

Yes, WomenHeart...we do have work to do. And we will do it!

Sandy

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My rheumatologist insisted my chest pain was costochondritis for 9 years. I actually had 3 blocked arteries (2 more than 95%) by the age of 37 with no risk factors except lupus. My current doctors (cardio and rheum) don't let me take advil for arthritis because of heart attack risk factors from large doses of nsaids (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

I've had 3 major MI's by the age of 40, 2 stents, and numerous hospitalizations and never had an abnormal EKG (Even during a heart attack). I have permanent damage to my heart and extensive vasculitis because the disease went untreated for so long. Please get a second opinion.

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I would be an invalid right now if my doctor insisted on trusting only cardio tests. I had my first cath after only one out of many tests was positive. Result was 4 new stents. I had three more caths the following year, all resulting in more stents for more blockages. Every single test before the angiogram was negative. However, my doc trusted my judgement, took a chance and I thank him regularly for it. By the last two caths, he didn't even have to "trust" me - he knew I would be right - and I was!!!

Here is a doctor who knows his stuff, but who also uses his intuition, gut feeling, patient input, etc.

That's what we all need!

Pauline in Providence

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