Concerned about chest pain: Hi everyone... - British Heart Fou...

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Concerned about chest pain

Fifer24 profile image

Hi everyone I’m just looking for some advice please and I hope I don’t offend anyone. For the past week and a half I’ve been having tightness in my chest to the left hand side - more worse so when I’m sleeping and turning through the night. It’s now gotten worse and is there 90% off the time day or night but again still worse at night. On Saturday there I was out with my 2 young kids when the pain shot into my left shoulder from my chest - I called my mum who came and got me and took me to a+e. They did an ecg (took a couple minutes) and this was normal. They took bloods and done a chest X-ray and again all was well. After a couple hours they let me go none the wiser. The pain is still there (it’s dull then sharp if I move a certain way) and I’ve barely slept since Saturday and getting ‘discomfort’ in my left elbow now that comes and goes but it’s nothing severe. I’m 29 years old, I am overweight but I’m also fairly active - never had anything like this before in my life! Could it be something simple as a pulled muscle? I’m absolutely terrified but should I take comfort in the fact everything they checked was normal on Saturday at a+e? Thanks so much if you’ve read this far...

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35 Replies

Take comfort, also phone docs say your unhappy leaving the pain. Good luck Sheena

There are conditions that can mimic a heart attack, such as costochondritis (if you google you'll see what I mean - pain on turning in bed etc). Perhaps explore this a bit more with your GP or ring the heart nurses on this forum for advice. More than anything you need reassurance that all is well.

Good luck 🙂

You need to contact your GP - left side chest pain of any kind but especially that which is accompanied by a pain in the left shoulder, arm, or up into the neck should be investigated by something more than just what happens in A&E.

What you're describing could be anything from an acute case of pericarditis (I have recurrent pericarditis and could have written your post - when I'm in acute flare my chest pain is quite like yours including being worse when lying down) to a 'trapped nerve' to...only your GP can evaluate and make the determination as to referring you onwards to Rapid Access Chest Pain or other sources for investigation.

Please telephone your GP surgery, tell them what happened and ask for the soonest telephone appointment with your GP. Then update us.

Fifer24 - Fife perchance? I'm up the glens. If you're in the Tayside, our cardiology services here are very good - but very busy the now - get in the queue asap, you'll be in good hands.

And welcome to the forum. Again, please update after you've spoken with your GP surgery.

Fifer24 profile image
Fifer24 in reply to Sunnie2day

Yes I’m from Fife! I looked up what you suggested and it does sound similar.. my sisters partners mum had a heart attack 2 years ago and sadly passed away 3 days later as there was nothing they could do for her - she was a fit and healthy 47 year old with no underlying conditions. After her death her work colleague felt terrible as she had mentioned to her a couple time’s about chest pain in the couple weeks leading upto her heart attach but she never seeked medical advice. I think that’s what has me spooked and on this page - I’m glad from the checks at a+e detected nothing but at the same time it’s left me even more worried as I think they’ll think I’m at it bcos they couldn’t find a problem. I know myself that it’s something - whether major or minuscule I don’t know just want answers. I will give my GP a call and see what they say although I must say they’re not the best..

Sunnie2day profile image
Sunnie2day in reply to Fifer24

Always best to contact the doctor (and a different one if you don't get answers and can go the cost of private consultation). When you talk to the GP receptionist be sure to heavily stress the chest pain and how it 'shoots up' (make sure the person you speak to understands the chest pain is/was very strong and quite alarming) - that should make sure you speak to a GP quickly, and referral made on an urgent basis.

And please do continue to update.

Fifer24 profile image
Fifer24 in reply to Sunnie2day

Spoke to doctor this morning they’re not interested - posted an update at the bottom of page 😕

Hi Fifer24. Like the others have suggested I don't think you should ignore this, make sure you get checked again, I ignored pain and ended up in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) if it's nothing much that's good, if it's serious best to catch it early. Good luck, take care, keep safe. Ruth

No one seems to be listening to me I’m at a complete loss! Am I better going back into a+e and refusing to leave until they do something more or am I better going through a gp who just doesn’t seem to have a clue..

There's one piece of advice I want to give. Lose weight. I started putting on weight in my 30s. Loved a party and take away food, we're only here once, right? Make the most of it, yes? Well l used that philosophy until my car diologist told me at 63 I had a week left to live unless I stayed in hospital then. Very fortunate to have had my aeortic valve replaced by TAVI. I changed my ways, lost weight cut out almost all alcohol. Still managed to drop dead on March 1st from cardiac arrest. I say this to you cause at your age I was fit, sporty and healthy. You are already overweight with problems. Your young kids need their daddy for many years so please act now.

Fifer24 profile image
Fifer24 in reply to ToffeeT

That’s has definitely been the kick up the bum I’ve needed! I’ve went from being a size 10 and weighing 11 stone to a size 20 weighing 17 stone in the last 4 years 😕

ToffeeT profile image
ToffeeT in reply to Fifer24

It's easy to do. I was working in Saudi Arabia, sports and working out every day. Then Saddam invaded Kuwait. The people who kept us in check were called the Mutuwah, basically religious police, they were scary freaks. Well they ran away down south, I was in Riyadh. This is odd for freaky religious people as Islam basically believe what will be will be, so if it was there time it would happen no matter where they were. In came thousands of American soldiers with real booze. We partied every night just about for six months, we were attacked by missile every night too. Our justification, might be our last party eh? After 6 months it was over, I had put on 2 stone. I went to play squash, almost killed myself, same with footie, one by one I basically have up excercise. I put on 10 stone eventually.

I had to go home from the hospital as I had the dog in the car, I called my daughter to ask her for a lift. She was 29 and she cried like a baby, I will never forget it. She took me to hospital in Stoke on Trent and I was very lucky. So much so that I was told if that op hadn't been done I wouldn't have survived the cardiac arrest, only 1 in 10 who have a cardiac arrest out of hospital survive anyway so I regard myself as mega lucky. I have lost 4 stone up to now. Believe me I know it's not easy but I have 3 adult kids and I want to be around as long as possible. I have an implanted ICD now.

I'm a Glaswegian originally and we do like a wee swally and a fish supper, problem is when it's too often.

Good luck to you.


leach234 profile image
leach234 in reply to ToffeeT


Have you any stents

Fifer24 profile image
Fifer24 in reply to SmokeAKipper

No I have had no bother with anything chest related before

Right guys so update - just off the phone to the doctor and she said it sounds muscular. I told her basically everything I’ve written down in this post and she still said a+e covered everything. A+E put it down as ‘anxiety’ which I’m so angry about anxiety is something I’ve never had a problem with and yes in a+e I was anxious but who wouldn’t be if they went in with chest pain?? The doctor also said the bloods they took checked for a blood clot/blocked artery and the blood work was fine. She has prescribed me with Gabapentin to help me sleep at night and help with the ‘muscular pain’. My blood pressure was ok in a+e so she said it’s all really positive. What’s your thoughts? This is all so new to me but I haven’t done anything to ‘pull’ a muscle that I’m aware of and the pains been building and intensify over the last 2 weeks..

080311 profile image
080311 in reply to Fifer24

Really think you need to see a cardiologist, the gold standard is an angiogram, hope you can get an appointment organised.

Let us know how you go Pauline

Sunnie2day profile image
Sunnie2day in reply to Fifer24

Are you female? I ask as you use the sizing (from 10 to 20) in an earlier post a woman would use. I'm a '60something' lady and (ahem) overweight - I haven't been a sz10 since...since I was 10, come to think on it. Sigh, only partly joking.

The more important reason I ask is there is a dismaying medical profession tendency to discount women's cardiac symptoms until we're blues'N'2sed to A&E and being jump started in the ambulance on the way. What is even more dismaying - there have been several credible studies done demonstrating the discounting and yet many medics continue to discount! Last year I was on the verge of cardiac tamponade with an acute flare of my recurrent pericarditis but it took nearly collapsing on the stress ecg treadmill to finally get it across to the cardiac nurse there 'might be' a problem. My GP recognised there was a problem and fast-tracked me to the Rapid Access Chest Pain unit but once there the cardiac nurse treated me as though I was a time-waster. I was so angry at the way the overstuffed mare mentioned it was likely muscular and owing to my weight, and disdained my symptoms and suggestion I thought from experience I might be in an acute pericarditis flare that I left the unit and went straight home to book in with a private cardiologist. I got lucky - I was seen the next day and long story short I'm doing very well now. Over a year later and active recovery took over ten months but heigh ho, I'm still breathing so I'm not complaining. Much.

Can you go private? It's not 'inexpensive' and as you're in the same area I'm in, I feel comfortable saying it cost me close to £1000 to get a bit of a queue jump for an echo and some other investigations through the private cardiologist who put me on his NHS list after he saw my scans. It took a 'wee' (wee, HA!) bite out of my savings - I'm retired so that £1K hurt but not as much as not having a proper investigation done would have.

Meanwhile, there are some things you can do to help ease the discomfort no matter what is causing it: first and foremost, listen to your body. If you're in pain or short of breath, STOP, sit down and rest until you catch your breath and the pain goes away.

Keep a log of when you have the pain, any shortness of breath, etc, and how long it takes to recover.

Try to sleep with your upper body slightly elevated (wedge pillow works a treat).

Avoid heat and humidity (no long hot baths or showers, and no hot tub, sauna or steam bath).

Avoid pollen and mould.

If you don't begin to feel better in a fortnight, telephone back to the GP and insist on speaking to her/him.

Fifer24 profile image
Fifer24 in reply to Sunnie2day

Thank you so much! How did you go about going private? Something I would definitely consider! Will they still take patients on with COVID? I’ve phoned the doctors back and asked the receptionist to get her to call me back and I was going to insist on a referral to a cardiologist but I’m guessing she won’t do that ‘urgently’ if she does and I will be waiting months? Just want answers - so angry a+e have put it down as anxiety as that is far from what took me into a+e! And yes I’m a woman 👩

Sunnie2day profile image
Sunnie2day in reply to Fifer24

I found my private cardiologist by using the Google search term 'best private cardiologist {insert county name here}' and after a quick (less than five minutes) review check of the names that came up, telephoned the one I'd chosen and spoke to the woman who answered the phone. Turned out to be his secretary and LOL, her desk is in the NHS unit I'd marched out of the day before. Any road, she booked me for the next day, advised on costs, and less than 24 hours later I was sitting across from the cardiologist telling him my symptoms. He's now my NHS cardiologist.

Good on yer! Telephoned back and asked for the GP to telephone you, that's excellent! Go hard on the chest pain when you speak to the GP and insist on being referred to the Rapid Access Chest Pain unit with urgency. Be firm, go into how painful it is when the dull ache goes to a sharp stabbing pain shooting up, and remind the GP you've done nothing to cause a muscular issue. Tell the GP if there is no urgent referral you will have to look into going private as you are a mum with small children and need urgently to know if there is something serious going on.

Pollypuss profile image
Pollypuss in reply to Fifer24

I had chest pains for two years when playing tennis. All my results came back normal and I had numerous ecg’s but not the active one. I thought therefore I had costocondritous because they said it was muscular.Well I didn’t, In the end I had a mild heart attack and triple bypass. Now don’t worry I am much older than you -77 now. I had hereditary history. You are much younger. However it is a good idea to get an angiogram if you can because I think this ought to be in the same category as pre medical tests for other illnesses and therefore for people with history of hereditary heart disease or chest pains. I don’t want alarm you and stress anxiety is so much a symptom in itself. Anyway I feel fine now and 9 months on back on the tennis court

TRST profile image
TRST in reply to Fifer24

I have had similar pain which turned out to be muscular. You don't have to 'pull' a muscle as such to get costochondritis or other similar complaints. It can build up over time.

I am glad you've had some helpful advice 🙂

leach234 profile image
leach234 in reply to Fifer24

You cannot test for a block d artery with a blood test. Any competent Emergency a Room Doctor should know that. Blood work will look for an enzyme that is released during a heart attack. “

See a cardiologist. They wouldn't even stress test me because of my left arm pain. For speed see a cardiologist privately .... they can then refer you back to NHS on an urgent basis. It saved my life. Never ignore pain like this or rely on ecg etc. You need an angiogram.. IMHO

Good luck.

My blood pressure was fine in a+e .. I’ve wrote an update at the bottom of this page..

The advice above is correct ... get another Doctor and see a cardiologist... yes you need to lose weight... regarding your Doctor if he doesn’t seem to be doing anything get another... u really need to get stress test etc... I had blocked artery while walking in Spain... wish I changed my doctor

Julie_BHF profile image
Julie_BHFBHF Nurse

Hi there it's Julie cardiac nurse here!

Please do call our Helpline Fifer24 and chat with one of our cardiac nurses - we can explore your options (and the suggestions as above) which will hopefully direct you further and give you some emotional support in this stressful time. All the best to you.....

0300 330 3311

Fifer24 profile image
Fifer24 in reply to Julie_BHF

Hi Julie I called but the line went dead will try again later thank you x

Agree the shock at poor response, but suggest care needed with stress test -it may not be appropriate for all situations.

F24, I have looked thru all your msgs and the responses. There is abs nothing I can add to all the great advice given. I nearly choked on my tea when Sunnie2day said she had not been a size 10 since she was 10.....good Scottish humour albeit in a serious conversation. I assume your blood test was a Trop and showed no cardiac event / heart attack. If that was the case then it looks favourable but do take the advice of the seasoned folk on here. I was born in Kirkintilloch and moved to Caithness as a 3 year old. Now live in Singapore where the Nat Heart Centre is absolutely fabulous..... My gut feeling as a late 70's patient is that you will be fine. But follow up and don't be fobbed off.

Feel for you.

Agree you need a specialist cardio consult.

I’d personally agree with Sunnie2day, that pericarditis could be a likely option, so look for a cardiologist with some knowledge of that, as well as general cardio experience.

ECG and x-ray only go so far in heart diagnosis, and A&E do have a tendency to patch us up, and if we’re not dying, send us on to another health professional.

Get past the GP however you can, they will likely not have enough specialist experience. Suggest tell GP (eg by phone) that you have continued chest pain & have only had simple cardio tests with no treatment plan, so you want a private referral. GP’s may resist nhs referrals but the obstacle of costs should disappear for private.

I also got my initial tests much more quickly via private (saved at least 3m), then was referred back on to nhs for treatment when my employer’s private medical wouldn’t cover any further.

Be ready to describe everything about your breathing, heart rate & pain, including body position & what you were doing at the time. Mention if you’ve had an virus or infection, eg a cold or cough, or have inflammatory history, eg arthritis. Maybe also show your pain visibly - I think I only got taken seriously when I broke down in tears in A&E from pain of turning on the gurney. And maybe be ready to describe your state of mind quite specifically, eg what helps you know it’s not caused by anxiety? I don’t agree with Dr Google for diagnosis, but it can help me identify what questions to ask, eg what are the symptoms of anxiety, and do I have any of them?

Finally, whilst I’m not a medic, I’d be cautious about assuming what tests you need - the stress / exercise test is good for some things, but exercise is not good for pericarditis, the echo Is good for structural anomalies, the angiogram for blocked arteries etc. Need initial cardio consult to know which test you need. Blood tests often a good start. CRP tests for inflammation troponin for damage to heart muscle.

Hope you get to a cardiologist soon, update us.

Sunnie2day profile image
Sunnie2day in reply to TealGreen

Oh dear, I should have been more clear - I meant it could be anything from pericarditis on through to a pinched or trapped nerve or anything and only a trained medic could make a determination.

My personal experience with recurrent pericarditis symptoms are quite similar to Fifer24's but I really did mean to get it across it could be anything. The important thing is chest pain the way she describes it needs to be investigated (by more than A&E bloods, etc) and only the GP can get the ball rolling on that unless she goes private.

Allypops, before you call my advice 'crap' (nice wording!) you would do well to read my post. I never advised anyone to google heart matters. I suggested googling costochondritis to understand what it was 😀.

And if you read my email a bit further down you will notice I suggested contacting GP or BHF nurses for advice.

I doubt the BHF has the time to explain to people about every medical condition UNRELATED to heart matters, and google can well explain what costochondritis is 😀

Helen_BHF profile image

Hi Fifer24 , please do contact our heart helpline team. Our cardiac nurses will be happy to talk if you have concerns

Call 0300 330 3311 or email

Really hope this helps

"Mild aggression"?

It's not good for your heart, you know 🙂

Hi it seriously sounds like you’ve pulled something. If the pain changes when you move as you describe and you’ve had tests done and taking your youth into account as well! But, give it a couple days and if no easier go back to GP

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