Just plain scared now.: I’ve been... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
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Just plain scared now.

I’ve been having sudden episodes of acute chest pain for about six years. The first time I went, the GP just fobbed me off - said he had no idea what it was, but reassured me that I didn’t have cancer.

I had a really bad episode at the end of February. I went back and saw another GP, who referred me to the rapid access chest pain clinic - and then cocked up the referral so it was a month before I got there, during which time I had two more episodes.

On the GP’s instructions I called an ambulance after one episode lasted more than 15 minutes. The paramedics said they thought it looked like unstable anigina.

The doctor at the clinic clearly thought I had reflux, but gave me a GTN spray and referred me for myocardial perfusion scan.

Frankly, I’m scared. I’ve had two more episodes in the last three weeks, both in the middle of night, both of which have left me feeling exhausted. My chest feels permanently tight and, although the acute pain only comes in 20 minute or so bursts, when I am at rest or asleep, my chest now aches all the time and I am breathless and have developed a dry cough as well.

I am otherwise fit and healthy, blood sugar and cholesterol are spot on, non-smoker with weight in the normal range and no family history, but I’m scared. Could it really be reflux if it’s not related to food or drink? Am I likely to get answers from the scan?

then clocked up the referral A month before I got there

9 Replies

Hi Andteynomad. I would suggest that each time you get this pain go to A &E. All chest pain should be treated as an emergency. Don’t be fobbed off. Even if it turns out to be reflux you need to know. Don’t wait for appointments go to A&E. Sorry don’t mean to be a nag (my partner says I am good at it!). Take care. Zena


I agree with Zena - go to A&E if you have another episode of chest pain. Did the cardiac consultant say anything about doing an angiogram?


No mention of an angiogram. I was told only to call an ambulance only if an episode lasts longer than 15 minutes. If I end up in A & E, what can they do given that I am only days away from having the scan?


A&E can address your symptoms and make you more comfortable. Best to be in a place where the experts can give you the care you need.


Hi Ansteynomad

We would advise taking your GTN spray and if it doesn't help, then calling an ambulance and going to A&E (regardless of a previous diagnosis of reflux, you are going to have a ). At A&E they can give you various medications and other investigations if they think you require it.

You said you are going for your scan soon which is a step closer to finding out what is causing the pain, and in the mean time you can contact your GP if you have any issues. Please remember to call for an ambulance if severe pain isn't relieved by your GTN spray.

Best of luck,



Thanks Ashleigh

I fully intend to use the spray when I get the chance, but as these episodes mostly occur when I am asleep and I now don’t wake up fully, it’s difficult. I have been advised by my GP to call an ambulance if pain lasts longer than 15 minutes and I will do this if I can.

I haven’t actually been diagnosed with reflux and I don’t believe this is reflux, but I suppose we will see once I have had the scan. The first part of the scan is on Thursday. I’m scared of that as well to be honest. I don’t like the thought of anything radioactive and because I have so many allergies I worry about whether I will have a bad reaction.

Thank you for your support.


Well, that was interesting. The imaging was fine. No problem with the scanner at all, but the drug they used to put the heart under stress sent me into shock. Cue much concern from medical staff when I couldn’t speak properly, couldn’t remember my address correctly, or my date of birth, and couldn’t stop shaking and a couple of hours of obs every ten minutes. Five hours later I feel exhausted.

This has happened before, notably after a complicated dental extraction, but I didn’t see it coming today.

Also, I have to go back in three weeks to do the resting test and as I’m not sure what happens after that, I would guess it will be June at the earliest before I get any answers and after that before we can book a holiday.


Hi Anstey. Sorry to hear of your experience. It’s not a nice drug. But essential to find out what’s going on. Hope you’re fully recovered from today’s experience now. Take care. Zena


And so it goes on. I have now received a copy of the letter the consultant I saw at the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic has sent to my GP, which says that my resting heart rate was 180 bpm when I was in clinic. Nobody said anything at the time, so I'm hoping that this was mistake, but it's very worrying. I am trying to speak to the consultant and to my GP, but won't be able to speak to either until Thursday. If my symptoms were stress related, I'm not sure where I would be now.


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