Friday, September 26, 2008

Unbreak my heart

For the past four or five years I've often had shooting pain near my heart, which only lasts a few minutes but gets worse if I breathe or stretch. It usually occurs when I'm sitting, or when I first get out of bed.

If I mention that my heart is hurting someone always says "that's just heartburn". Oh really? So back when I was on pills for acid reflux I actually had NO IDEA what was going on and THIS sharp pain in the left side of my chest is actually what I should have been feeling then? Well, at least now I know.

(Apparently I have a soapbox I didn't realize sooner.)

After an entire day of freaking out several times because HOLY CRAP, MY HEART HURTS! I started Googling various things again. For the millionth time.

I finally came across Precordial Catch Syndrome, and have decided I can finally relax because yeah, it hurts, but this is probably what it is and they says its harmless. Bring on the pain.
From Wikipedia:

PCS manifests itself as an intense, sharp pain typically below the left, but sometimes right, nipple or breast which is worse when taking breaths. This typically lasts 30 seconds to 3 minutes and then is resolved as quickly as it began.

PCS has consistent characteristics. Its symptoms begin with a sudden onset of anterior chest pain typically located just below the left, or sometimes, right nipple or breast. The pain is localized and does not radiate like heart attack pain typically does. Breathing in, and sometimes breathing out often intensifies the pain. Typically this causes the patient to freeze in place and breathe shallowly until the episode passes. Episodes typically last a couple seconds to 3 minutes. The frequency of episodes varies by patient, sometimes occurring daily (or even multiple episodes each day). This is believed to be localized cramping of certain muscles groups in the locality.
Although deep inhalation during a PCS attack will likely cause an increase in pain, many have found that forcing themselves to breathe as deeply as possible will result in a "popping" or "ripping" sensation which quickly and completely resolves the PCS episode.
PCS episodes happen most often while sitting or lying down, and being inactive.
The cause of PCS is unknown. It is speculated that it could be caused by the pinching of a nerve. There is also a correlation of PCS to stress and anxiety. PCS is often seen to occur during rest or a sudden change in posture.
There is no known cure for PCS. However PCS is also not believed to be dangerous. Therefore PCS is generally seen as a mild inconvenience. Perhaps the worst part about PCS is the fear that this chest pain is an indicator of a heart attack or other dangerous condition, so therefore a correct diagnosis of PCS is a relief. PCS should not interfere with normal activity, and there is no reason to use any form of medication.


Anonymous said...

That's really interesting. I have the same sort of pain from time to time. Usually about every other week or so...

I always attributed it to the fact that when I was young I had a heart mur-mur (something about your heart skips a beat or something...) The doctor said I grew out of it.. but I always had that pain and that's what I thought it was.

Thanks for posting this. :)

Clarke said...

I've had that heart cramp thing too every once in a while. I don't think its a big deal.