Help please, I’m new and only 16 - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Help please, I’m new and only 16


I might be on the wrong page, but I just want to know what it’s like to have a real heart disease. I have had several heart symptoms for years, since I was 7. I have anxiety disorders. In those years I have visited several cardiologists, they have all told me that it’s normal and that if I had a real heart disease I wouldn’t be able to walk? There has been many times where my panic attacks felt worse than a heart attack. I’m really scared that I will die, and not convinced that there is nothing wrong with my heart. I always get sharp pain in my left chest, that is now infrequent, and I also get those weird big thuds in my heart every few days, i remember when I was getting an EKG, my heart skipped a beat, it was a second of not being able to talk or breathe but it ended up fine after. That day, the doctor said I had the ideal heart health, or a “perfect” heart. Could these scary thuds and palpitations actually be anxiety? I always spend minutes looking at myself in the mirror to make sure my lips aren’t blue and my skin is flushed. They havent ever been like that. I would like to mention that three years ago, I was suspected of having mitral valve prolapse, which hit me like a train. The doctor told me that it’s not deadly at all, but he cant confirm that I have MVP until I get an EKG done, he also told me that the suspected MVP is from me being anxious all the time. I got the ekg, and no mvp signs were shown. But it is still stuck in my head now, and these “anxiety” heart symptoms are well debilitating. Google scared me with aFiB, since I have the same exact symptoms.

21 Replies

Hi and welcome.

The first thing to say is that, yes, anxiety can DEFINITELY cause the symptoms you're getting. It's one of the difficulties those of us who've had heart attacks often face in the early days afterwards - a little bit of a (perfectly normal) twinge makes you anxious in case it's starting again, and that anxiety causes more symptoms, which make you more anxious, which causes more.... well, you get the idea :D

The problem with that is that anxiety is a perfectly normal (and normally healthy) instinctive effect, and there's not very much we can do to control it. Relaxation, breathing techniques, rationalising (using the smart bit of your brain to tell the dumb bit to pack it in) and so on can help sometimes but, other times, it's just got to burn itself out.

The second thing to say is that you really shouldn't listen to Dr Google. Pretty sure that I could go online right now and convince myself that I've got bubonic plague if I wanted to. Some of the symptoms of the plague are:

* abdominal pain, which I've got right now (but I overdid it a little in the gym today),

* bleeding without normal clotting (but that's exactly what 2 of the heart meds I take are supposed to do),

* extreme weakness - my legs don't want to support me at the moment (but I went for an hour long dog walk AFTER overdoing it in the gym)>

If I ask Dr Google about abdominal pain, weakness and blood won't clot then it suggests internal bleeding, leukemia and the plague! Trust me, I really HAVEN'T got any of those!

The good news is that the tests you've had have shown "perfect" heart health - as we'd all hope for at your age! - and it's very unlikely that they'd miss anything serious. I really do know that isn't much comfort when the panic sets in, but it might help a little to remind yourself of that when you're feeling calm so it's firmly in your head next time the worry starts :)

Thank you so much for your reply, I couldn’t be more grateful that I met this one doctor in the ER, who showed me this wonderful website, full of wonderful people!

I had anxiety and panic attacks years ago and then got a heart problem by the by ( but I am 75!). I can assure you the symptoms from my anxiety and panic were far worse than the physical heart symptoms. What I'm saying is that YES anxiety can cause all the symptoms you describe and yes they can become a thing of the past. I know how tough it is at 16 anyway. I remember rowing with my parents every day and thinking they had no idea what I was going through emotionally. I do hope you have someone to talk to who can give you the support you need. Something I found helpful to get myself calmer was to breathe gently and try to slow my breathing by counting. Also use your 5 senses and count three things you can see, three you can hear, 2 you can feel, 2 you can smell, what can you taste this keeps you in the here and now and stops your brain running riot.

Thank you so much for the advice, I will try that the next time I get a panic attack :) ❤️


Welcome to the blog. I'd just like to echo the advice already given, don't trust Dr Google to help you diagnose a problem. You can find yourself believing almost anything, so wean yourself off. If you feel something is wrong, use the doctors and take their advice. Also, be aware that none of us here are medically trained, and we can only write about our own experiences. This is the value of this website, it helps with many of the little things (the things not mentioned by the doctor) that happen when you first meet disease. If it is present, you don't know what to expect, what can happen and what might be an important indicator.

You do seem very anxious and, as others have written, this can cause many strange effects on the body. If at all possible, I suggest that you might talk with your parents about the way you feel and your anxieties. It would be good if they could support you in seeking help from the medical profession to get your anxieties in perspective and hopefully eliminated. If not, is there any pastoral care offered through your school?

Good luck for the future.


Thank you for your reply, I am out of school this year because of problems, I did talk to my parents, we tried so many medications and therapies, none really helped. I have been told that no matter what medications I try, anxiety won’t go away especially if I have vitamin deficiencies that cause anxiety symptoms. Is that true?


It's good to hear that you and your parents are working together and have been jointly trying to find a way of mitigating the problems you have.

I don't want to suggest medications etc as I cannot be sure they won't do you harm, so my suggestions are for options you may have which are more lifestyle based.

I suffer from spells of anxiety, but I almost always know the cause (I'm retired by the way). Once I have been able to tackle that, I find life much easier. However, as I suspect you actually may not know the cause, it makes things more difficult. When I am anxious about something, I have found that getting involved with other people in something physical is a useful distraction technique; the more tired, the better; the more people to talk to about anything else, the better. Having a period of distraction helps me, even though I know it doesn't solve anything permanently. Things you might think about, to give you some idea what I mean, but if you can find something that is a real interest to you -

-helping with a nature conservation project

-simply walking with some friends in a country area

-playing a team sport

-helping a charity in some way (but not to be on your own).

Basically, don't build yourself your own little cocoon to live in.

However, I would like to mention diet. It can be a real problem and produce unwanted effects, both physical and mental. So I would suggest writing down a list of all you eat and drink and consider what is fresh and unprocessed, eg vegetables, fruit in the form it grows, fresh pieces of meat etc. Then look at what you are eating/drinking for added sugar. Sorry, but you perhaps need to cut them out. There is evidence that food with added sugar is a real problem. Also eat wholemeal/wholegrain bread, not white. For me, anything made with white flour is now off limits almost all the time. (Really, only eaten when there is no other choice or I go hungry). If in doubt, look at a Mediterranean diet, but I have doubts about processed/smoked meats eg salami - that's perhaps a personal bias. Also, cut out the fast food - sorry. I've only ever been to a Macdonalds once and that was about 50 years ago.

My final suggestion may seem mad, but there is an article in the New Scientist for 10 August 2019 on p42 entitled, "The Hidden Cause of Disease", if you cannot buy a copy, maybe your local library will have it. If you can read it, I hope you will see why I am suggesting it. The front cover list of diseases is extensive and includes heart disease,, stroke and diabetes - its good advice for what we should all be doing - but don't become a hypochondriac about it. I mentioned it to a friend and he said he had been told this by his dentist years ago. Basically, it suggests that many diseases have a contributory factor of a bacterium, Porphyromonas Gingivalis. It turns out that it is very good at defending itself, so many options to get rid of it don't really work. However, you can help yourself a lot by scrupulous dental hygiene. I cannot reproduce it all here, I hope you can find a copy.

Again good luck, I'm sure you will find a way that works if you keep talking with your parents.


Hi SxufferingSxoul

I've just remembered something else - you need to sleep well, 7.5 hours a night, (and not pill induced)

Its all detailed in a book (paperback) by Matthew Walker "Why we Sleep" (Its on Amazon). Its fascinating and almost all about humans and what sleep deprivation does to us - even small amounts of loss can have consequences. But there is just a little bit about roosting birds on p65 that is amazing, well it amazed me. (Start on p64 to get a bit of background)

What it amounts to is that sleep loss is detrimental and you don't really make it up by staying in bed longer to 'make up' for lost sleep. Its taught me the things I should have been doing all my life. I thought the amount of sleep I had was negotiable- this book says that that idea is wrong - its non-negotiable.

Well, I found out 70 years late,


Hello! My mother never allows these white breads or whatever to even enter the house, she buys the organic version of everything, and prepares kale salad almost everyday. I honestly didn’t find it bad at all! I can’t believe I hated these foods before, I love them now. Honestly, my health anxiety increases whenever I eat something unhealthy.. physical symptoms creep up on me. Unfortunately I am never able to get enough sleep due to hours upon hours of school work. I hardly get a break. I am Mediterranean myself, and we Mediterranean people hardly enjoy fast foods, but enjoy foods that come straight from earth’s ground :) I don’t really have friends, it’s hard to make friends for me. But I will be sure to look into the article you mentioned, I love anything related to medical stuff anyways, I am hoping to be a surgeon one day.

I really sympathise if you are suffering from health anxiety and panic attacks. I was just the same in my early 20s and the palpitations made me think my heart was stopping and the shallow breathing during a panic attack made me think I would pass out. What helped me massively was hypnotherapy. My doctor sent me to a wonderful lady who hypnotised me and taught me relaxation techniques so that I could self hypnotise when the panic started. It took a while but eventually I was able to recognise them starting and stop them in their tracks. You've been told your heart is healthy. Hard as it is, do believe them because what you are feeling IS caused by anxiety and you can control it. I suspect at some point an unthinking doctor has suggested you may have something that really shocked you but wasn't true; perhaps the suggested MVP. In my case when I was 18 a doctor told me very abruptly that a lump I had could well be breast cancer. It wasn't at all but it terrified me and made me anxious about every little thing. Having said that I'm now 71 and absolutely furious with that unthinking doctor. You don't have a heart problem but you CAN get help with the anxiety. Ask about hypnotherapy and relaxation exercises.

Qualipop in reply to Qualipop

OH and stop googling! Only ever use the NHS website.

I would be mad at that doctor too, I’m hoping that your panic attacks have gone now? :) I will be sure to follow your advice, he also scared me by saying things how sleeping on my left side could damage my heart, 🤷🏻‍♀️ Thank you so much for your reply, and your kind words, I really appreciate it.

Some doctors have no idea how to talk to patients, especially young ones and can cause a lot of damage with careless words. Thanks I have the panic attacks under control. At times they try to start again completely out of the blue. I was driving through Spaghetti Junction a couple of years ago when I felt one starting, just because there was nowhere I could pull over- the first I'd had in over 15 years but I managed to stop it. Once you recognise what they are and learn how, you can stop them and it feels so much better t o know you are in control and not your subconscious. Oh even after all these years, they still try to start when I get anxious but I don't let them and that's the important thing. You need to learn a technique which prevents them from getting worse so YOU are in charge. Once you can do that you will realise it is not your heart, it's your subconscious and you know why- a thoughtless doctor. I wouldn't see the GP who scared you again. Can you change GP or is there another one in the practice you could talk to? I've never heard that sleeping on your left side can damage your heart. It makes a bit of sense because when on your left, you have the weight of your right lung resting on it but I'm sure it doesn't damage it as such. Try to find a better GP to talk to and ask for help with the anxiety; either hypnotherapy or relaxation exercises. If they can't refer you for hypnotherapy you could find someone privately if you can afford it. It is worth it if you get the right person. They are pushing Mindfulness right now as a way of coping. One or the other may not work for you but you Will find a method that helps. Even getting a parent to talk to you about something completely different can help to stop your subconscious from playing games. Unfortunately in most places there's a long wait. You shoudl have a local NHS organisation called Minds Matters that you can just ring up and self refer for talking therapy. You don't need to have a GP refer you. Good luck.

Hi, there is nothing worse than being anxious about your health ( or someone else’s). I had a really bad time earlier this year over my husbands health as he has a few health issues ( he is 70). I realised that I was drinking about 12 cups of tea every day and that some of my anxiety was being ‘fed’ by the caffeine in the tea. We changed to decaffeinated tea and both feel and sleep better.

I worked as a learning support teacher in a secondary school before I retired and one thing I did every year with young people was looking at their diet, mainly in relation to sugar, and how it impacted on how they felt and functioned. One young man in particular stands out for me - he was constantly ‘wound up’, anxious about everything, struggled to stay in class, but very able. He drank fizzy and energy drinks by the canful and ate sugary foods. One morning (at about 11.30) we calculated his sugar intake for that day from the food labels and bottle labels and then weighed out the sugar into a bowl. He was shocked by what he saw! When the drinks were also caffeinated it made things worse. He changed his drinking and eating habits, and his whole life changed. You may already have a healthy diet but if you do drink many of the ‘monster’ type drinks it may be worth cutting them out.

Best wishes to you.

Hello, what he is eating isn’t really a good thing then. I hardly ever drink energy drinks because I am scared of them haha, I heard stories of people dying from drinking them so it’s a nope for me. On the other hand, I do drink lots of coffee, but organic natural coffee, which I heard is very beneficial for the heart? I do drink coke though, and eat one donut, no more because I am also scared of consuming a harmful amount of sugar and caffeine. I have to mention that I use an electronic cigarette for quitting purposes, because I was a heavy smoker (smoked marlboro and heavier stuff) thanks to the bad influence that was put on me by a friend, ugh. Now I have saved myself from toxic chemicals that aren’t meant to be in my body like acetone, formaldehyde and cyanide! But now I am stuck with this dumb nicotine, I am trying to find a specialist that helps people quit addictions to substances like Nicotine. My breathlessness has gotten better over the past few months and so has my lung anxiety, as I have always been horrified of lung issues. Honestly, I really want to be a teacher when I finish university! I love chemistry.

Hello.. I really feel for you as I was the same as you at your age, honestly I’m not just saying that.. i used to look in the mirror to look at my lips or make sure my tongue wasn’t swelling, it was absolutely horrible. Please don’t let this destroy you as it has me. There are lovely people on here who will try and help you and listen. Bless you and you aren’t alone even though it feels like it at 2am when the house is silent and you’re standing in front of a mirror convinced the end id coming.. it isnt! xx 🌹

Hope everything is getting better for you😕💔

Hi SxufferingSxoul,

I am now 83. I was working on a doctoral thesis in Birmingham some 40 years ago, and I was worried about money, my future, whether anyone would give me in my mid-40s a job, whether I would have the sustained energy to complete the research......And during the nights I would sometimes wake and would have a heart that thumped slowly and hard as I looked into the unknown road of my future. I was six thousand miles away from the country where I had grown up and from anyone in my family.

I told a nurse friend about these deep thumping heart spells and she recognised the condition as arising from acute moments of anxiety.

As my research went on and began to look more impressive, I got past the anxiety and I had no further concerns until I had a heart attack 20 years later. But that was caused by a very stressful job. I had a triple coronary bypass. Told the surgeon who came to talk to me before the operation , that I would do wonders for his statistics. He looked at me with some surprise and then sat back and enjoyed my comment.

I reckon you'll get past your anxiety and these frightening concerns. I don't imagine you'll have the same journey I have had. But be of good cheer. If this old duffer can arrive at this age and still feel pretty fit, there's every likelihood that you'll come smiling through.

Good luck!

Blue rose 76

I really feel sad and bad for people who have heart issues, especially those who get a heart attack😭💔 really breaks my heart, I don’t want it to happen to me even though school is causing way too much stress on me since it’s the last year of high school.

I get really tired, cold hands & feet plus pins & needs there. All my life I have suffered with heart problems & now more are coming on later on in life, I have to accept it & listen to what my body is telling me

You poor thing. Anything to do with your heart can be very scary especially when you are so young. Anxiety and panic attacks can make you feel as if you are having a heart attack and the more you worry the more your heart will misbehave.

Try breathing techniques to help you relax and get some help with your anxiety....maybe therapy or couselling as this will help you manage your symptoms until you get a diagnosis.

Good luck and take care !!!

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