Heart question

Hello all - just moved house and now trying desperately to find, register with and go see a good local GP. Until then I have a question which you kind people might be able to help me with ;-)

Been running for nearly 6 years, 8 marathons, no health probs. Recently (last 4-5 weeks) been getting discomfort located in the left-hand-side of my chest during runs. Feels deep.

Symptoms are:

- located solely in left-side
- no pain or discomfort in arm/back
- feels more like tightness, pressure and a dull ache (rather than sharp stabbing pain)
- concentrated like a circle towards bottom of rib cage, radiating out round the side
- comes and goes
- happens during runs lasts 3-4 mins goes, sometimes comes back later on
- can be runs of high or lower intensity
- happens also during day sometime (right now, while sat at desk for the past 45 mins)
- no noticeable shortness of breath
- coincided with occasional nauseau and tummy probs

The possibility of angina has crossed my mind.

I wear a HRM all the time during training and have seen no weird readings, even when the tightness has occured. Although have noticed that my heart rate vs effort has recently fallen quite markedly (hoping that that's the +ve effects of training). First time it happened I thought it was down to running too fast and talking at the same time.

No history of heart probs in the family. But the chest pains have got me a bit concerned. Could it be muscular/overuse? Have upped the training over the past 18 months. A year ago, my previous GP commented that my blood pressure was a bit high - not worryingly so, but to keep an eye on it. I was surprised considering on the face of it, I'm pretty fit. Can't remember the reading though (not much use, am I!?).

Any ideas or questions to ask a GP when I get to see one?

Many thanks in advance! :-)


  • Don't want to sound alarmist but if you are concerned then get yourself down to the hospital asap and talk to them and get them to run some tests.
    Almost certainly thats what the GP will say when you find one so you might as well get on with it
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    It could be something as simple as stress (you did say that you have just moved house - now that is very stressful).

    BUT I'd agree with Rocket Dog - a quick trip to A&E and they will be able to tell in minutes if it is heart related.

    Print out what you wrote here, so they have all the facts.
  • T&TM,
    It is good to get this checked out but obviously muscular chest pains are common. I understand that there is a tendancy to worry when the pain is in the chest though.

    I have had chest pains that made me think similar and the worse of which caused me to pass out on the shop floor of a supermarket. The latter experience was such classic symptoms of a cardiac problem that I had to be monitored overnight in A&E, the diagnosis being muscular-skeletal, and a prompt discharge from hospital.

    I'm not medical but your post struck a chord. The above experience was the most scary point of my life but the next morning I was laughing about it, and I was very glad to get it checked out.
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    It's definitely possible to have quite severe symptoms that mimic a heart problem without having one. Your symptoms sound similar to those I had through late Nov 2005 until a couple of weeks or so ago.

    I had a similar thing to Gary - chest pains, difficulty breathing leading to collapse into unconsciousness, followed by several months of chest pains/discomfort/tightness etc similar to those you describe (though I did have some stabbing pains, an initial pain in my back on collapsing and symptoms were not solely on the left side). Still waiting for some cardiology tests following on from this but the tests they have done so far suggest nothing wrong with my heart and I've been able to start training again (supposed to be taking it easy).

    I would go down to the GP and try and get them to refer you. A&E wont necessarily be able to rule out the heart as a cause of the pain. In my experience of going there twice (once in an ambulance after collapsing and once when the chest discomfort got quite bad again) they'll do an ECG and maybe blood tests. I think that if they suspect angina then they might want to give you some kind of exercise test and you'll definitely have to wait for that.

    I'd take it easy in the meantime. Maybe stop running. If it's a virus in the respiratory system or heart (one suggestion they've given me) then you don't want to risk turning that into something more serious.
  • Thanks a lot, peeps! That sounds scary, Gary - have never passed out in my life before (apart from drink-induced student-days, natch!)

    I suppose it could even be something as simple as too much caffeine reccently. But will take myself off and get checked out. The T&TLady's younger brother is an anaesthetist, so I'll try and get hold of him and sound him out too. Don't know whether it's a false-sense-of-security-thing, but I'm glad I wear a HRM and can check back to see if anything has changed during training.
  • T&T man I would imagine that if your HRM isn't doing weird things it is more likely to be muscular. Is the discomfort around the lower ribs. They have strong ligaments around them and cartilage too and it is not unheard of for it to pop out between the ribs. Is it worse when you cough or laugh?
    Does it hurt to touch?
  • Hello Rio - thinking back, I have had in the past a bit of tenderness to touch around the middle-to-lower bit of the rib-cage on the left-hand side. Had gotten so used to it that it had almost forgotten it. It's also a little bit tender if I poke around now, probably around nip level! In the past, I've always put that down to wearing my HRM strap and maybe a bio-mechanical weirdness in my running style. It's fine when I cough/laugh, and no restriction in movement.
  • If it is tender to the touch then it is more likely to be muscular and could well be related to wearing your HRM, or as you say postural. Still worth getting checked but not worth worrying about til you have to?!
    It would possibly be more concerning if the pain radiated down your arm or you were getting short of breath.
  • Thanks for all your replies! Just got off the phone from T&TLady's anaesthetist brother and as suggested, he believes it's muscular rather than heart-related. If it was angina, I wouldn't be able to run through it, I'd be very short of breath and my HRM graphs should show up something. Also, having tightness this morning while just sitting round doing work would preclude it - should be brought on by activity. No pain in arm, jaw etc is also good news. If he was on duty at A&E and I presented these symptoms, he'd tell me the same. Worth backing off the mileage for a while. Also need to register with GP and getting blood pressure checked, etc. So my mind is a bit more settled - will keep an eye on it. Thanks again!
  • Glad you have had that reconfirmed T&T Man. Restup and take it easy as you can but obviously if the symptoms get worse then a trip to the quack is definitely called for
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