Could my digestive problems really be heart problems?

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lcr319
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 38
   Posted 7/31/2006 7:35 PM (GMT -7)   
I have spent the last year and a half having what seems like anxiety attacks that seem to be linked to periods of bloating and constipation. My doctor has done ekg's, a stress test, echo, chest xrays, abdominal and liver ultra sounds and aside from finding me with a fatty liver (they say it got that way from the removal of my gallbladder 22 years ago) they can't find my problem. So they have gone with a gerd/ibs diagnosis. My dad died of a heart attack at 52 and the night before was complaining of bloating and stomach discomfort, which seemed to resolve itself before he went to bed. The next morning he colapsed and died of a massive heart attack. This is always in the back of my mind. I'm a 43 year old female, recently (since Dec.) went from 286lbs to 212lbs. My total cholesteral is 207 with my good cholesteral at 52. My bp is around 120/80 most of the time and I have been exercising for about 45 minutes/5 days a week on a stationary bike. I do have a rather stressful job and was once carried out on a stretcher and took my first ambulance ride sure I was having a heart attack (at my job). In the er my ekg was fine and they gave me a holter test for 24 hrs. After an echo I was told I had a mitral valve prolapse. I still have the digestive issues and when they are at their worst I end up with pain in the center of my chest and between my shoulder blades with a constant feeling of pressure and fullness in my chest. Sometimes fennel tea helps get rid of trapped gas but I just can't shake the feeling that it is my heart. Is there any tests that I have not taken that could ease my mind or will they let me walk around like a potential time bomb waiting for doomsday? I am most concernes because I live in a rural area and the emergency squad is not very close by. My fiance woke up 3 months ago with tightness in his chest at 2am and because I was too tired to take him to the er ( he'd had sciatica for a week prior and I got little sleep all week) I called the rescue squad. Good thing I did cause 5 minutes after they arrived his heart stopped and he stopped breathing. He needed to be revived 5 times in 7 hours and ended up with 3 stents. Before this happend he had all the heart tests I've had and they showed nothing. Am I just being paranoid?

Chrissmithx
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 31
   Posted 7/31/2006 9:53 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Icr319,
              I'm sorry to hear about all your worries here.
 
I've also had the heart tests you mentioned. My 24 hour monitor picked up palpitations. I don't have mitral valve prolapse, but a friend of mine does and she gets scary palpitations, especially when stressed.
 
You're obviously doing a lot to improve your health, with exercise and (I assume) diet control. You say that you've been struggling with this problem for a year and a half. Has that been constant discomfort or have there been spikes?
 
You've mentioned several sources of stress in your post. These will definitely cause some of the symptoms you've described, so it might be worth talking these through with a professional. If it helps the symptoms, why not?
 
Are there any other tests for your heart? Definitely, but I think they become more invasive from here. I haven't tried any. Your doctor's 'probable gerd' diagnosis is reasonable from what you've mentioned.
 
Your fiance's experience is scary. I wonder why his tests didn't show anything. It makes me wonder about my own situation, too. Well, you're definitely not paranoid. All the concerns you have would worry anyone.
 
I hope you feel better soon.
 
Regards,
 
Chris
 
 

DREAMGIRL
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 600
   Posted 8/1/2006 4:06 PM (GMT -7)   

:-)  Hi There, i have had the exact same bachache and upper stomach pain that feels like it is in my chest also, i definetly think i t is your stomach, but with your family history i would not take chances. i ended up with two stents due to blocked arteries, but i do not think that is what was causing my backache between the shoulder blades. it is amazing how many things can cause that problem  your gallbladder, gerd, hernia, and the big one   Anxiety

 i would probably peursue it a bit further and try for an angiogram, you will get peace of mind

 


ritasfamilytree
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 8/1/2006 8:01 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi there,,, I am so sorry for all the anxiety this is causing you. Sounds like you dont need any more. One of the most tell-tale tests you can have done is a heart cath. Its not a big deal ,but it will tell them exactly whats up. Your chol. level isnt bad ,but they do like it a little lower.Under 180 at least. Are you on any chol. meds? Hope you get to feeling better soon. Sounds like you are really trying and are headed in the right direction.The only thing is stress is soooo hard on you so if you can find ways to eliminate some of it you should. Take Care,,,Rita

lcr319
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 38
   Posted 8/2/2006 7:55 PM (GMT -7)   
No, I don't take any cholesterol meds. What are the risks of the cath procedure? What does it entail and what does it tell you?

ConnieS
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 37
   Posted 8/4/2006 2:11 PM (GMT -7)   
The risks of the angiogram (cardiac cath) include death. They accidentally stopped my heart the first time I had one done and had to revive me with the defibrillator. Cardiologist told me it can happen to anyone including her (pointing to the 20 something, very thin, nurse who was caring for me in CCU) if they accidentally thread the catheter so that dye gets in the wrong little branch. I don't want to scare you unnecessarily if you ever have to have one as they are the only way to conclusively determine whether there is a blockage in a coronary artery (and fix it....I DID have a 99% blockage in my LAD - one week after my 54th birthday - and they put in a stent at the same time - they do the test first and while they have the catheter in put in the stent if one is needed). BUT that is why they don't do them unnecessarily.

There are (at least) two kinds of stress tests....one is where they just hook you up to a monitor and put you on the treadmill. There are lots of false positives and false negatives with this kind of test, especially in women.

The second kind, which has minimal risk is a two day test. The first day you go in, they inject you with a nuclear isotope, then take pictures of your heart at rest. The next day you go in and they do the same thing, except this time you're on the treadmill when they inject the nuclear stuff, then take pictures of your heart after the exercise. The comparison of your pictures at rest to after exercise, along with the data from the monitor on the treadmill, can tell a lot about the status of your coronary arteries. After my first one, they put me in an ambulance, took me to the hospital, and did the angiogram and inserted the stent.

If you've had only the first type of stress test, I'd be discussing why they haven't done the second type with my doctors. If they've done the second type and you are confident in the skills of the cardiologist, I wouldn't worry too much. Hope this helps.

lcr319
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 38
   Posted 8/4/2006 7:47 PM (GMT -7)   
I took the 2 day stress test only i think I did the treadmill the first day and the at rest test the second. I never did see the cardiologist the results were given to my primary doctor and if I didn't call to get them I never would have heard from her. The only thing I remember about the results were that they thought I didn't do the treadmill long enough. I have exercise induced asthma and could only manage about 5 min. I think they may not be taking me seriously because I am a woman and only 43. I may just be paranoid cause my dad died of a heart attack and  guess in the back of my mind I am affraid i might have inherited some bad genes although no one else in his family had heart disease but my moms dad and all of his people had heart attacks, my mom and her sister are fine and her mom died of cancer in her 70's. So other than an angiogram there is no way to tell the condition of my arteries?

Chrissmithx
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 31
   Posted 8/6/2006 8:53 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi lcr319,
                You have a strong desire to find out what your problem is, and I totally support you in that endeavour, however, I would not recommend you go for invasive testing at the moment. You've had a series of tests most of which, it seems, don't worry your doctors. Mitral valve prolapse can be troublesome and you should have an echocardiogram every 6 months or so to keep an eye on it.
 
I have many of your symptoms and was rushed to ER last Sat morning at 5am. I was experiencing the weirdest bursts of adrenaline, giving a feeling much like being on a roller coaster at max. fear/excitement... but no roller coaster. Before that I'd been sleeping soundly without a care. In ER the episodes came and went in waves, causing me bouts of shuddering and intense emotion. They did several series of tests, and all came back negative. They solved my problem by sedating me.
 
I also have a stressful job, and have known for some time that it irritates my condition, but I now realize to what extent. I almost certainly have a panic disorder, though you might not guess it from the way I perform in my job. I'm right there in the thick of it, always pulling round situations from certain disaster. The problem comes when I have the opportunity to relax. Then I start to unravel physically, with PACs, PVCs, stomach discomfort, chest tightness etc.
 
Our situations/histories are different in many ways, but we're both suffering from stress and we've both been tested for what we believed was the problem.
 
I plan to see a psychologist this week to see what I can learn there. If it's an issue of managing different stresses (that cause physical symptoms), I'd rather go for that than doing invasive tests which, in themselves, could cause heart problems.
 
Take care,
 
Chris

els
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 4031
   Posted 8/7/2006 3:32 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi lcr, The issue at hand is that you 1) after having an echo you where told you have Mitro Valve Prolapse, 2) do have a family history of heart diease (mothers side) 3) your having "pain in the center of my chest and between my shoulder blades with a constant feeling of pressure and fullness in my chest" this alone should encourage your physicians to continue to try to find the cause to this.  You stated that you feel as if your doctors are not taking you seriously because your a woman...If this is how you feel than I would recommend getting another doctor.

We can give you support and hopefully some information to help aid along the way.  But it sounds to me as if you are unresolved with your diagnosis, and the treatment you have been receiving.  In the end you have to do what you feel comfortable living with.  If that means getting a second or third opinion than perhaps that is what you need to do.  Please do keep us up to date on how things are going and post often...take care


 


DREAMGIRL
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 600
   Posted 8/7/2006 3:53 PM (GMT -7)   

:-)  hi, there is a test i took that is non invasive before i was ever diagnosed, it will noly show if you have calcium deposits but that test saved me from having a heart attack because when i got the results i nsisted on an angiogram.  it is like an ultra sound and it show if you have calcium build up, my report said i had a 90% chance of having a heart attack and my primary physicain never suggested the test, i read about it, he was stunned when i had to have two stents, push push push for what you want. i am having a nother test done this week that i strong armed my dr. to give me, i said how can we find out if i have any more blockages, do i just have to wait to have a heart attack, so we are doing something, that will tell if i have any blockages and it is not the angiogram. i will find out what it si called.  you also know about the 64 slice ct scan, you are a good candidate for that and it is non invasive.

 


lcr319
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 38
   Posted 8/10/2006 7:38 PM (GMT -7)   

I want to thank all of you for all the encouragement and helpful advice. I just got back from a 3 day business trip. I spent the entire 3 days suffering from chest pain, shortness of breath, and several near anxiety attacks. All of these symptoms seemed to be at their worst when I was trapped in a lecture room sitting at a desk and unable to just get up and bolt out the door with out bringing attention to myself. I'm sure at least part of my problem is stress/digestive related because if I didn't eat the symptoms still were there but not as bad. As soon as I was allowed to go to my hotel room for the night the symptoms were gone. When I got up the next morning I was okay for about an hour then they would start to return. I thought I would have the most trouble because I was 4 hours from home without a car (I am a control freak) and in a place that I couldn't find a hospital or get myself to it on my own. I did see the hospital from my hotel room window (what a comfort). The conference ended and all the way home I was fine. Heart problems don't come and go do they? I am seeing my doc in a couple of weeks, she wants me to have an endoscopy and colonoscopy then I will ask for the 64 slice scan. What will that tell me. I think all this paranoia is giving me stress as well.


Chrissmithx
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 31
   Posted 8/10/2006 9:34 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi lcr319,
Have you tried drinking yogurt? As a short term fix I tried this twice a day, and it certainly calmed things down. You might also want to think about the foods you eat and when you eat them. If you drink coffee, I'd cut it out for a week or so just for an experiment. Also, try to cut out sweet things, especially chocolate. Cut out fried or highly processed foods. Try it for a week or so, just to see if it helps. If there's a noticable improvement, then your stomach (combined with stress) could be the source of your problems.

Last night I was a dumbass. I got a chocolate craving and ate some Maltesers at midnight. I really paid for it with palpitations and an uncomfortable stomach. When will I learn!

Take care,

Chris

tomah
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 40
   Posted 8/16/2006 2:30 PM (GMT -7)   
I have had the 64 slice ct angiogram.  It is non-invasive.  It will show calcium deposits, soft plaque (the dangerous kind), and what shape your arteries are in.  My calcium score came back 3, all my arteries were good, except for very mild soft plaque in the proximal LAD.  It DID show that I have a total blockage in my right coronary artery, which has fixed itself with collaterals.  My advice to you, if you decide to have this test, is to make sure it is done at a facility that has done many of them.  I had mine done someplace where I was only their 2nd patient - and I had a heck of a time getting a second opinion on the reading.  You will probably have to pay for this yourself, as most insurance companies still consider this experimental.  This is the test that Oprha had a year ago.  Good luck, and let us know what you find out.
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