Night Chest Pain-Spasms???

I have a question for those of you with spasms. I woke up at 2:00 AM with a sharp heavy pain in the center of my chest. It is the same pain I had last month when I became concerned about my heart. Feels like someone has reached their hand into my chest and grabbed and squeezed and slowly let go. Previously it has happened 3-5 times in a row but since I was sleeping I only felt one. I am not sure if I had others I slept through or not. It did not last long and I stayed awake for a while but had no further symptoms. I am wondering if this is a spasm. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Also, why would I go a couple of weeks and not have this type of pain and then suddenly have it again? I have recieved no answers as to why I have minor heart damage. I don't see the cardiologist for a couple more weeks. Yes, I am frustrated and a little shook about it.


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It sounds like it to me. I just went through about a week or so where I thought my nighttime spasms were done, but they're back and it seems like they're worse. I can't explain why, but it seems like they go away and each time they return, they're worse. However, I'm also still not being treated specifically for spasms. I'm still in the diagnosing stages.

Good luck to you - it's very scary and I don't think anyone, but those of us who experience it truly understand that.


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Nancy, my thought on the timing is that it's hormone related. Don't know where you are on the "menopause time-table"...but it is something to consider.
I've heard a lot of women mention their "symptoms" are worse at particlular times during their "cycle."

Hope you have a good night!


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Hi Nancy,

I'm in a squeezy, sharp pain phase right now too. Feel free to ping me if you just get too fed up with it. Mine is going on in daytime will vanish tomorrow hopefully. I'm in ovulation now + perimenopause light hot flashing going on and off. I'm feeling like one of those bioluminescent deep sea creatures that glow in the dark...without any of the fun : ) The same thing happened this time last year at 52. What the heck??? Do temps dropping into the 50s and lower sun angle start some wierd kind of mammalian hot flash hibernation thing??? Too bizarre that it has restarted almost to the day, at 53.

cheers, Jaynie

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Ohhhhh Yes Ladies,
I am in menopause hell and have wild mood swings, major fatigue, and hot flashes occasionally and almost always at night (my husband hides a lot these days). So, do you think this IS heart related and exacerbated by my cycles or do you think this is unrelated to my heart and a symptom of menopause? The squeezy pain is so odd. I never imagined this is what a heart issue would be like.

Jaynie, my hubby is a Nuke guy and he is often teased about glowing in the dark. There would be certain advantages! : )

I plan to enjoy the weekend on my porch with a good book as the weather here is decidedly un-October like. Hope you all are able to do the same!


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it sure sounds like spasms to me. I experience this wake me up out of a dead sleep chest pain that used to bother me. Believe it or not I am now used to it - I wake up, wait it out, and then go back to sleep. if you can get your cardio to help you figure out what it is it then becomes much easier to live with! Knowing is so much of the battle.

Be well,

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That squeezing pain in the night could certainly be spasms. Do you ever have any shaking or weakness at night or during the day? The spasms and heart pain or pressure come and go for days, weeks or months at a time and then are gone for awhile. I am still wondering how hormones effect the spasms. Some web sites do say that spasms come in the second part of the cycle when the progesteron is higher and the estrogen is lower. I take estrogen replacement every morning, but it runs out about bed time and I have hot flashes at night. Sometimes when I wake with them, I am having spasms. I can sleep thru the spasms, but not the hot flashes. My dr. does not want me to increase dosage. ugh!!
Hope everyone has a nice stress free weekend.

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Hi - sounds like spasm, and yes, I do believe that hormone cycles can exascerbate them. I wasn't diagnosed before I had my MI, oddly enough my MI was 2 weeks after radical hysterectomy (at 41) - low dose HRT, but still a significant drop in estrogen, and looking back, they were probably somewhat, but not completely, related to my cycle for the year before the surgery. Are you taking HRT? Do you take nitro when you have the pains? If you do take nitro and the pains go away, it's a piece of the puzzle as far as it being spasm related. BUT either on or off HRT, I still had spasms, so they're not completely hormone related - but I have heard research that in some women they get better after menopause - unfortunatly I don't fall into that category!

It's definitely something to note for your doc, and make sure you write down the times you're awakened, that's significant, also the duration and symptoms. It's so frustrating not to have them for a bit, then just then you start breathing again, they're back. I've come to the conclusion, and found some peace in realizing that I'm always going to have Prinzmetal's, I'm always at risk of spasms, even if I've been medically controlled, it's just a part of my life now. It stinks, but it beats the alternative!
I hope the doc can give you answers when you see him, if he doesn't - move on quickly to someone who can!

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Thanks for the confirmations. Hope I get one from the Dr as well. Not sure how hard it is to diagnose this. Sounds like it is difficult unless it happens during testing.

Joyce, I don't notice shakiness unless I have done an 8 hour class and am exhausted but I do have SOB during the night and in the morning every day now. It just started one day when the pains started and is worse some days but always an issue.

K, I am not on any HRT at this time. I am just hoping it wil all go away! I know...I am in denial. I will try the nito the Dr gave me next time I have them. So far I have not used it because the pain is not that bad. I will log the times as well. I appreciate the advice.

Happy Saturday! Nancy

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Hi, All!
I don't have the heavy crushing pain, but I do get a "pinchy" feeling that comes & goes, always during the day. Is that the same thing as a spasm?

It's new for me, just the last 2 months. I have also been under a great deal of stress & contributed it to that. I suppose I shouldn't ignore it, but it always seems to pass without nitro.

Nancy, try the nitro, the worst that can happen (if you take it) is a headache. I was afraid to take it the first time, maybe I was afraid it would work and that my HA wasn't a fluke. But this is something I will have to deal with the rest of my life. Might as well use the medication that was prescribed, right?

Oh, I didn't get a headache either.
- Peg

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hey there Nancy :) I am so sorry to hear that you are having struggles like this...wouldn't wish it on anyone. A couple of the valuable things I have learned since coming to this site is that A: to use the nitro when having the pain with a spasm.... it didn't have to be an ER visit type of episode. It has worked beyond belief, and the emotional relief to find a good option is great too. (no headache for me either, but I am on daily meds for migraines) I just had to overcome the prejudice that nitro was the emergency only med. B: is that prior activity can result in a delayed spasm sometime, so maybe the day before was really physical, and it is the next day or night before I could be hit with issues. That helped a puzzle piece fall in place for me. The hormone thing is a mystery... I think I am past the ups and downs of menapause (no more hot flashes, my uterus long gone from partial hysterectomy) but.... good luck with your dr., but if he does not help, please find someone who will.
Hope everyone is having great fall weather like we are (tho windy !) I am off to get ready for work :)


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Hope you are feeling better today. One thing I just wanted to mention is just because Nitro works doesn't mean your pain is heart related. I went to the ER because I had "the squeezy tight feeling" and when I took Nitro the feeling got better. After having an angio, the Dr. told me just because Nitro works to relieve symptoms doesn't mean it is a heart event. It turned out I was having a reflux issue. I had an undiagnosed hietal hernea (cant spell today) and it was causing the problem. I do hope your Dr. can get to the bottom of it for you. Knowing makes all the difference in the world. When I wake up with it I just go back to sleep. Diane

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Sometimes I resist taking the nitros unless the pain is severe, and sometimes when the pain is moderate, I just sit down, kick back and take them, read a book. It is almost like sitting down to a cup of tea. I agree with Pam, that you don't have to wait for an emergency situation. They do lose their potentcy easily after being opened and you need to throw them out regularily and get new. I try to buy new every 3 months.
One diagnostic tool for spasms can be the EKG, in that the T waves can be unusual. I am not sure it you have to be having a spasm right then for this to be the case. All the times I have had an EKG done, I was having spasms and the t waves were not normal.. I think the spasms are hard to see on the angiogram, partly because you go in with the pain and they immediatly put you on a nitro drip which calms the spasms, then do the angiogram.
Peg, I don't know if the pincy feeling is a spasm. It could be but does not really sound like it is to me. What do others think?

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It certainly does sound like the spasms of Prinzmetal's. One thing about them is that once you have the spasms at a cetain time they won't always come at that certain time and that you can go weeks months and at times years without them, and then for no apparent reason here they are again.

I like the nitro spray best because you don't have to renew your supply every three months. I believe that three years is the life span for the spray. The pills, however, do seem to be a bit stronger, although you can squirt twice to make the spray stronger.

Hope your cardio has some good answer for you.


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I am interested to hear that other women in my situation have these issues. I have been having strange chest and upper back pain that comes on at the same times each day - generally late afternoon, then subsides, then big time pain when lying down at night, better in morning. This all started 3 yrs ago when I began menopause, which incidentally started in late Oct. as well. Had a year without symptoms , but would get occasional spasms. Lots of other weird symptoms, like blue hands, mouth pain, calf pain. Diagnosed with reflux, and am now getting tested to see if all this is reflux or cardiac. Not on HRT. Does anyone have any similar symptoms?

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You mention that you have mouth pain and calf pain as well as blue hands. Raynaud's Syndrome can be a reason for lack of blood to hands and feet. As for the pain/spasms, I know that I have Prinzmetal's Angina/Coronary Artery Spasms. They were seen on a cath and on another later when I had a heart attack after my bypass surgery. The latter one, along with a blood clot, caused my heart attack.

One thing I have learned about spasms is that some of us are classic and have them in the evenings or at night or at the same time every day. However, many, like me, can't pin point a schedule or pattern. I have just learned how I feel when they hit. A lady on this board educated me a while back about the fact that if you have artery spasms, you can have them all over your body. That explained a lot to me. I was having calf pain, jaw pain, rib pain, neck pain, foot pain, etc. I felt like a rubber band would seize and twist me. I thought I had MS for a while. Once my calcium channel blocker for my coronary artery spasms was adjusted correctly, 90% of those spasms went away. I had a new eye doctor back in January ask me about health issues after examining my eyes, but before she knew my health history. I told her about my heart disease and Prinzmetal's and she said that explained why the arteries in my eyes were spasming during the exam. I had no idea and she said that would lead to brittle arteries in my eyes. She suggested I call my cardio and up my calcium channel blocker.

Am I correct in that reflux is, in part, due to spasms in the digestive tract? If so, you ladies dealing with these odd symptoms might look into Prinzmetal's/coronary artery spasms. Calcium channel blockers can be a lifesaver when you get the right one at the right dosage.

Good luck to all -

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Have you had an angiogram? I had symptoms similar to yours, almost religiously every late evening (or at night), then again during the first hour after waking. My symptoms were feelings of intense constriction around my chest, across my upper back and shoulders, and aching in my arms (in the early days it started out similar to indigestion, then progressed to the constriction feeling). It varied from moderately to incredibly uncomfortable. Usually about 3-5 of these spasms across an hour, then it would be over. I had these symptoms along with SOB, very depleted energy (on the couch most of the time) for 7 weeks before doctor decided to do an angiogram. I had previously had stress test and EKG at the ER, all clear. They were surprised to find I had a 95% blockage in one of the main arteries. Put in a stint, and all problems cleared up. There was no damage to my heart, but apparently I had been having artery spasms. Best of luck to you. This site has been wonderful - I have gained so much insight and encouragement from the other ladies.

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im 21 and ive been having chest pains at night they feel as if they are right in my heart, they only stay for a few minutes and then they go away but they r really scary. they only come at night do u think that could b these spasms u r talking bout

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