I thought I was having a heart attack!

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Yesterday, I woke up at 245am with a pain in my left jaw, a feeling like someone was kicking me under my ribs at my heart, my heart was beating fast and hard, I was nauseous and I was having a hard time breathing. It seemed like the pain progressed with each breath. My husband called an ambulance.I wasn't able to lay down, stand up, sit without being in excruciating pain. I was laying in the fetal position expecting my heart to give out at any second. The spasms under my ribs made it impossible to breath normal. The paramedic gave me 4 baby aspirin and 1 nitro pill which temporarily caused all the pain to stop. It would start all over again every few minutes. The morphine they gave me in the e.r. didn't help at all. I had a cat scan with contrast and an MRI done. The doctors told me I didn't have a heart attack and they were puzzled as to what happened. Even asking me if I could've had a panic attack or acid reflux. I've had both but this was NOTHING like that. Has anyone else had this happen to them?

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  • Posted

    Hi kristy,

    what intrigues me about your experience in the emergency department with the doctors, how did they come to the conclusion that you didn't have a heart attack ? the gold standard if it's not obvious that you are or have had a heart attack is a blood test , it's called Troponin blood test, in a scenario where it isn't showing up on an ECG that's the next step, the troponin blood test as NSTEMI's don't show on ECG's, some say they can actually spot an NSTEMI but other doctors have told me it's hard.

    Heart attacks in women often present as reflux, as a general rule it doesn't hurt to breath , not in my experience anyways but I'm a  male, but it's possible. Another interesting thing is that not a lot of doctors will tell you this but the nitro pills and spray are also used for indigestion, if you ask your doctor next time you see him / her ask them straight out, smile they have to answer your question honestly, it's not really a common practise now I don't think.

    Did they find anything at all ?  . Morphine usually helps with heart attack / angina pain. Hope they get to the bottom of it for you...did they mention anything about the gall bladder ?

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    • Posted

      Hi Samuel's,

      They did take blood work. The doctor said my enzymes didn't show a heart attack. I had a cat scam with contrast, not sure what they were looking for but the results came back as good. I don't have a gallbladder but they did an MRI to see if there were any stones in any bile duct(apparently you can still get stones without the gallbladder). They doctors never came up with any definitive answer. They were puzzled. I do have to follow up with a stress test in a couple days.

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    • Posted

      Hi kristy,

      I thought they might of done, I just didn't want to assume. The cat scan with contrast may well of been to see if you had any artery blockages, sometimes they can see via cat scan without the need to do an invasive procedure called an angiogram, I have also heard that they can sometimes see coronary artery spasms that way as well (Prinzmetal Angina ) there are a few other imaging tests they can do before doing an angiogram. Was reading on and it does sound like you are experiencing some kind of spasming, either one they still make you feel you could be having a heart attack, the small blood vessels in the heart are spasming flat out, unfortunately they can't be seen by the naked eye or by any tests including an angiogram, then there is coronary artery spasms, basically the same as small blood vessel spasms in the heart, they can, depending where you are from do a test for this, it's a provocative test and if your arteries go into spasm when they inject the provocative agent they can then confidently say it's Prinzmetal angina, unfortunately this procedure is not available where I am due to it's "risks " rather than "benefits ", well so I have been told by cardiologists and my GP.

      The annoying thing about spasms is that the medication that they put you on will work for a little while, it won't stop the attacks completely but should lessen them until our bodies build up a tolerence to all the medications and the cycle of it's severity will start all over again sad

      The cardiologists tell me that cholesterol plays apart in these spasms as well, especially if it's high. Here is how one doctor explained it to me. He said what is happening because I have a weird lipid profile the cholesterol  moving around the endothelium was absorbing / eating up the nitric oxide and this in turn was causing the spasms. lack of or no nitric oxide is the actual cause of prinzmetal angina according to  researchers.

      Goodluck on your stress test and any other future tests, I hope you get answers sooner rather than later.

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much. Do you gave prinzmetal angina? Are you on any meds for this and do they help you with frequency or severity? I could stand to lose about 20 pounds and I need to clean up my diet, if that would help. I'm sure the cardiologist will mention that too if it's cholesterol related. I appreciate your indepth answers as I'm all new to this. I'm just blown away, I had no idea this even existed. Like you said, I hope I get answers sooner than later 😊

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    • Posted

      Yes I have been diagnosed with Prinzmetal angina, some cardiologists prefer to use different terminoloigies, even though they mean the same thing, here they use the term coronary artery spasms unless you get an older cardiologist who will use the correct term.

      I am on a few medications, they do help to an extent, but as I have said our bodies build up a tolerence over time to the medication making them pretty well useless. GTN , the spray under the tongue works sometimes, works if you can catch the niggle before they turn into the big spasms, but sometimes that's impossible because the big spasms can come on out of the blue and all you can do is hope the GTN will get on top of it. I also have mild heart disease and have had 2 NSTEMIS's and every chest pain episode feels the same, I can't differentiate, I mean I'd definately know if I was having a full blown heart attack but the NSTEMI's are a bit different, they are only mild heart attacks and aren't picked up on an ECG only in a troponin blood test 

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    • Posted

      How long have you had prinzmetal 's? It sounds like you've really done your homework and probably had done go around with the doctors in order to get answers. I hope things go well for you. 😊

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    • Posted

      A name ( prinzmetal angina ) was actually put to the condition about 5 years ago by an emergency doctor, my original cardiologist (now retired ) originally diagnosed me with small blood vessels in the heart spasming after he performed all available tests. Cardiologists have actually slowly decided to agree with this emergency doctors diagnosis.

      No I didn't have to seek second opinions, after all the tests were performed and came back negative, just lucky I had a well educated professor in cardiology. He even said that if we can't get on top of my weird lipid profile I will develop heart disease, as of 2012 I was told I had a minor blockage in the right coronary artery and last february I had to have another angiogram and they found another small blockage in the LAD ( left anterior descending ) artery I believe he called it.

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  • Posted

    Your symptoms are consistent with my Prinzmetal. I can't catch my breath during the spasms. There is no comfortable way to sit. You just have to wait it out and hope it isn't going to get worse.  The series of spasms can last a half-hour or more.

    They could only tell that you didn't have a heart attack, because you didn't have the enzymes show up in the blood tests.  I assume that the cat scan and MRI were to look for blood clots or strokes symptoms?

    It's very hard to get a Prinzmetal diagnosis. It took them 5 years to sort to it for me.  They have to look for anything and everything else first.  The last resort test is to have an iodine dye scan where they try to induce the spasm. 

    See a cardiologist or two. Your stress tests should be normal, since this typically happens at rest. It'll be a frustrating road, and some doctors will make you feel stupid. But you are in charge of your own health. 

    Good luck

     

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    • Posted

      Hi amy

      kristy didn't mention if she had the blood test, I didn't want to assume as she had mentioned several other tests to reach their diagnosis, that's how it came accross to me.

      I never have problems with it hurting to breath, I like you have trouble "catching " it when a PM attack comes on, mine lasts anywhere up to 2 hours or so, bad attacks generally around the 2 hour mark.

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    • Posted

      Hi Amy,

      For several months,I have been having a heart pain that comes and goes, so sporadic. It may last 2 minutes or 20 minutes where I feel that my heart "aches". Anytime this happens, I'm at rest, sitting on the couch, laying in bed,,,so then this happens while I'm sleeping. I'm wondering if there's a correlation between the two. I was feeling the same as you said that the stress test probably wouldn't pick it up since I wouldn't be resting. Thank you for answering me back. I goto my medical doctor on Monday and she knows me and will listen to my concerns. I'm not gonna sit back and hope this is this or that, I've got to be proactive. I literally felt like I was dying that night. It was awful!

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    • Posted

      It lasted for about 2 or 2 1/2 hours. But i think the difficulty I had breathing was from the pain in my chest, the spasms under my ribcage. Just hard to catch my breath.
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    • Posted

      Amy,

      Do you go to the emergency room everytime your prinzmetal hits you? Do you take any regular or prescription meds for it?

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  • Posted

    I had a very similar situation happen to me.  I don't think it had to with heart as much with the stomach and the esophagus.  That was 3 years ago and I still have problems with it.  When I start feeling the pain.  I sit down and relax and take tums or something similar.  Aspirins will sometimes help relieve the pain. To keep my veins open I take Chelation treatments.

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    • Posted

      Hi Georgia, thank you for commenting. I have an appointment with a gastrointerologist as well to rule out anything with the stomach/ esophagus. Do you find the chelation treatments help?
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