Post-stent chest pain

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters 

A friend’s daughter (who happens to be a cardiac nurse) phoned to check on me a few days after I was discharged from the hospital following my heart attack. I felt so relieved to hear Kate’s voice because  something was really starting to worry me:  I was still having chest pain.

Hadn’t the blocked coronary artery that had caused my “widow maker” heart attack just recently been magically unblocked? Wasn’t that newly revascularized artery now propped wide open with a shiny metal stent? Shouldn’t I be feeling better?

And that’s when I heard the words “stretch pain”  for the first time.    .       . 

She explained to me exactly what I would later learn more about from cardiac researchers in Germany: moststretch pain” symptoms are due to the dilation and stretching of a coronary artery that’s caused when a coronary stent is being implanted inside that artery.(1)  And for the majority of heart patients, she added, stretch pain is not a danger sign.

But if you’re like me, you may still be concerned, after your stent has been newly implanted, to find that the chest pain that sent you to the hospital in the first place is still happening.

At the time, I could find no information about chest pain AFTER a stent procedure in any of the patient education material I was given before I was discharged from the CCU (the Intensive Care Unit for heart patients).

But now I was learning that this new chest pain might be BECAUSE of a stent procedure.

The German researchers agreed that post-stent chest pain is likely not a reason for us to panic. But they did acknowledge:

“This is a common problem. Although the development of chest pain after coronary interventions may be benign, it is disturbing to patients, relatives and hospital staff.”

Disturbing? No kidding. . . 

New chest pain is very disturbing to a person who has just survived a heart attack.

In the German study, researchers found that stretch pain can be experienced after different types of cardiac interventions:

  • about 40 per cent of the patients they studied developed chest pain after having a coronary stent implanted (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, or PCI)
  • 12 per cent developed chest pain after balloon angioplasty
  • 9 per cent developed chest pain after diagnostic angiography

As cardiologist Dr. Allen Jeremias explained in his book, Your Personal Guide to Angioplasty:

“The air pressure in your fully inflated car tires is about 2 atmospheres. By comparison, the high pressure used to inflate a balloon inside a coronary artery during angioplasty is between 10-20 atmospheres.”

Researchers suggest that chest pain in recently stented patients can be associated with continuous stretching of the treated coronary artery during an invasive procedure, which they described like this in the journal, Circulation:(2)

“Non-ischemic chest pain develops in almost half of all patients undergoing stent implantation, and seems to be related to blood vessel over-expansion caused by the stent inside the diseased vessel.”

U.K. sources add that it’s common to experience this new chest discomfort in the first few days and weeks following a stent procedure.

“This is because your artery has suffered some trauma and bruising from the stent being fitted. You can have episodes of pain or discomfort as the stent settles into place. This pain is usually felt quite locally in the chest, and is often described as sharp or stabbing. This type of pain can often be relieved by taking acetaminophen (Tylenol).”

Symptoms have been generally described by patients as mild or moderate, and also “unlike the pain of angina” that they had experienced before they came into the hospital for treatment. Three-quarters of patients with this pain described it as “continuous, squeezing pain located deep in the chest.” 

What if stretch pain continues or gets worse?

Stretch pain is typically a short-term issue while we are recuperating.  But sometimes, it is not just short-term.

The Journal of the American Heart Association reported that about one third of heart attack patients studied were still reporting occasional chest pain at six weeks or longer.(3)  These symptoms happened infrequently – about 80 per cent experienced symptoms once a month on average, but of the remaining 20 per cent, chest pain was happening weekly or even daily.

This kind of chest pain may not be just your average stretch pain.

If chest pain persists or worsens over weeks, it may indicate another cardiac issue that must be checked out. In a 2018 U.K. study, researchers turned the cardiology world on its ear by suggesting that stents may not address chest pain as we have always believed – especially for patients who have not had a heart attack.(4)  Coronary artery disease (CAD) typically affects many blood vessels, and so stenting only the largest blockage may not make much difference in a patient’s symptoms. As the New York Times described the findings of this study:

A few arteries might be blocked today, and then reopened with stents. But tomorrow a blockage might arise in another artery, and cause a heart attack.”

Always consult your own physician for ongoing or new chest pain, or any distressing symptoms that simply do not feel right to you.  See also: ISCHEMIA Study: That Blockage Isn’t A Time Bomb In Your Chest (about the controversial 2019 research that found stents or bypass surgery are no more effective – except during a heart attack – than providing optimal medical therapy; as I noted at the time, however, fewer than 1/4 of the ISCHEMIA study participants were women).

But meanwhile, my own question on stretch pain is still this: 

“If stretch pain caused by having a stent implanted is as common as cardiac researchers seem to suggest, why aren’t heart patients like me warned about this before hospital discharge so we don’t need to panic during recovery?”

1.  Chao-Chien Chang et al. “Chest pain after percutaneous coronary intervention in patients with stable angina”. Clin Interv Aging. 2016; 11: 1123–1128.
2. Jeremias, A. et al. “Nonischemic Chest Pain Induced by Coronary Interventions: A Prospective Study Comparing Coronary Angioplasty and Stent Implantation”. Circulation. December 1998: 2656–265.
3. Fanaroff, A. et al. “Management of Persistent Angina After Myocardial Infarction Treated With Percutaneous Coronary Intervention: Insights From the TRANSLATE‐ACS Study”;  Journal of the American Heart Asssociation.
4. Rasha Al-Lamee et al. “Percutaneous Coronary Intervention in Stable Angina (ORBITA): a Double-Blind, Randomised Controlled Trial”. The Lancet, Volume 391, ISSUE 10115, P31-40, January 06, 2018.
 

NOTE FROM CAROLYN:  In my book, A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), I wrote much more about chest pain and other (common and uncommon) cardiac symptoms. You can ask for this book at your local library or favourite bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from Johns Hopkins University Press. Use their code HTWN to save 20% off the list price when you order.

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Q:  Have you ever experienced stretch pain after a cardiac procedure?

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Please do not leave a comment here asking me about your current symptoms. I  am not a physician and cannot offer you medical advice. Always see a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing distressing symptoms.

105 thoughts on “Post-stent chest pain

  1. I had a heart attack on the 11th of Feb. I also had a stent placement. It was concerning to me that I was feeling ( MILD ) discomfort in my chest and your article was comforting, to say the least.

    I did not feel dizzy, nauseated, out of breath, I was not sweating and had no problem walking to the store – just a soreness. It confused me! Your article was very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that you found this article, Charles. And I really wish that hospital staff would have mentioned to you before discharge that this stretch pain is common, and usually temporary and benign – so you needn’t be alarmed at all if/when it does happen.

      Take care, stay safe. . . 🙂

      Like

  2. Hi Carolyn,
    I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I was to read about “Stretch Pain.” I had a stent placed 5/2020, and to this day still experience stretch pain. It’s so stressful because at times the pain can be stabbing as well. The cardiologist went back in last week again to look around and found everything was still clear, but I’m still having stretch pain.

    Hopefully one day it will go away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Paula – I’m not a physician but I can tell you very generally that stabbing chest pain for almost a year after your stent placement is not likely the same as the common stretch pain associated with the coronary artery recuperating in the early days/weeks from a stent “stretching” the coronary artery in the cath lab. Your cardiologist’s intervention last week suggests that your symptoms are being taken seriously – but if “everything is still clear”, what is causing those symptoms?

      I’m wondering if you should start a Symptom Journal to show to your doctor: include the date/time of day, description of pain, what you were doing/eating/feeling in the hours before the incident worsened, and what if anything (e.g. Tylenol, going for a walk, talking to a friend, taking a dose of nitroglycerin, which I hope you have) that may have relieved your symptoms even temporarily, and also – what makes the pain worse? Often a pattern begins to emerge that may help your doctor solve this mystery.

      You might also check out “What Is Causing My Chest Pain?” for a list of both cardiac and non-cardiac reasons for chest pain – to see if anything in this post possibly rings true for you.

      Good luck to you – stay safe out there. . . ♥

      Like

  3. Thank you so much for your amazing site! It is really informative and helpful after having a heart attack at 48. I am just wondering for how long this “stretch pain” is normal after a heart attack?

    Thank you for all your are doing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Nicole – you were so young to have your heart attack! I’m not a physician so can’t really predict how long “normal” stretch pain can last, but I can tell you generally that researchers report 1/3 of us will have stent pain for about six weeks or so. By then, the pain episodes are often farther apart.

      So if chest pain is happening more frequently, or if it’s feeling more painful rather than less painful as time goes by, then talk to your doctor just to be on the safe side.

      Good luck to you – take care and stay safe. . . ♥

      Like

  4. Thank you for this eye-opening article. I have just found your website and blog after reading Good Times magazine and an article on women’s heart health.

    I feel as if I have finally found a community of compassion and knowledge.

    Always deemed “healthy” at yearly physicals, I was diagnosed with asymptomatic AFib before hip surgery a year ago. Several months into recovery and Covid times, severe coughing sent me to ER. Sent home with a puffer and GERD meds, I continued to worsen over the summer. Another episode of severe coughing and “heart burn” sent me back to the ER where a CT scan revealed fluid in my lungs, and a potential diagnosis of heart failure. I finally had a stent inserted in November 2020 and experienced discomfort for weeks on end. Seriously scary and frustrating.

    I think I am okay now, but 3 months later, still waiting to start some type of cardiac rehab.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Hélène and welcome to HEART SISTERS! I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through all of these distressing symptoms. With COVID, many in-person cardiac rehab classes have moved online. It would be absolutely great if you could start a program sooner rather than later. Please speak to your cardiologist and your GP to ask for a referral. There are many private clinics now running programs online that you could also check out (for example, Cam and Shawna are a husband-&-wife team at Pulse Cardiac Health who offer a structured comprehensive 12-week monitored cardiac rehab program. I don’t know them personally, except that they’re both very experienced in this field.

      Hang in there – so glad you’re feeling better now. Take care and stay safe. . . ♥

      Like

  5. Hi! I’m 48 and I suffered a heart attack on December 18. I had 2 stents put in, RCA and LAD, and I am having the chest pain issues. I’m hoping that it goes away…. Not getting much sleep as the cardiologist never discussed this with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Chris – you are so young to have had a heart attack! You’re in very early days yet, about three weeks post-stent, so it’s not unusual at all at this stage to be experiencing chest pain, as the researchers cited in this post have reported. And your stents were implanted in two separate arteries, so you have healing going on in two distinct areas. If your symptoms worsen over time, make an appointment to see your cardiologist to rule out other causes.

      Your cardiologist “never discussed” the possibility of post-stent pain with you because, in my experience, very few if any cardiologists warn their patients about this common and temporary reality. You are not alone! So far, I haven’t ever heard from any of my readers who were actually told about “stretch pain” before hospital discharge. Every one has expressed surprise and concern after the fact. I learned about this common symptom only by accident from a cardiac nurse who happened to be a family friend and phoned me a few days after my own hospital discharge to chat. But what about the vast majority of stent patients who don’t happen to have cardiac nurses phoning them to check in?

      This pervasive failure to inform is, in my opinion, bad medicine – because being informed ahead of time that this symptom is common (and indeed predictable in almost half of stent patients!) might help to alleviate anxiety or fear that we’re having another heart attack. As you likely know, once you’ve had a heart attack, future chest pain of ANY kind and ANY cause can feel terrifying unless we’re well informed in advance why this might happen.

      By the way, due to your young age, your immediate family (siblings and/or children) should be aware that they are also at increased risk of heart disease because they now have a family history.

      Good luck – try to get some sleep, take care, and stay safe. . . ♥

      Like

  6. This has been of so much comfort to me. I recently had a heart attack and had a stent inserted on December 30, 2020. Today January 4th, I still get the odd stabbing pain.

    I live in Ireland and was also NOT told when leaving hospital that this would happen.

    Thanks for this story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello David – you are in very early days post-stent, so it’s not uncommon to be experiencing lots of odd symptoms as your body recuperates from an invasive procedure. As the researchers that I mentioned found, about 40 per cent of the patients they studied developed chest pain after having a coronary stent implanted. This is typically the “stretch pain” I wrote about here, that is temporary and usually not a serious issue. If it continues, mention it to your cardiologist.

      Happy New Year – and Best of luck to you in your recovery!

      Like

  7. I am so thankful for your blog. I had two events in Oct 2020. First, after walking for 5 minutes I was so out of breath I almost passed out. No pain, no feeling of obstruction in my throat or lungs but a tremendous lack of oxygen. It’s hard to even describe how out of breath I felt.

    It lasted maybe 10 minutes and was a half hour before I felt ok again. About 2 hours later I couldn’t think through the alphabet while doing a crossword puzzle. My husband took my blood pressure and it was 179 over something. I was shaky, nauseous and short of breath.

    We called 911. My vision was blurred. I had some central chest pain, not bad, more pressure-like. At the ER I was told my troponin level was up and my EKG showed something in my LAD (left anterior descending coronary artery), and that I had had a heart attack.

    I needed a cardiac cath and likely at least one stent. Well it turns out there was no blockage at all. I’d had a spasm (still not sure why) in my LAD and I have a myocardial bridge. It’s a congenital anomaly that has never been an issue in 65 years.

    It’s now 3 months later and it’s been a roller coaster of pain, newly high blood pressure, allergy reactions to drugs (Prozac, wellbutrin and now amlodipine) and anxiety/panic attacks. Trying to sort out the pieces has has been difficult.

    Your blog has been a lifesaver. Even though I didn’t have a stent placed, I had so much chest pain after the cardiac catheterization. Reading about pain from stent placement made me feel that recovery related pain was possible just from the cardiac catheterization itself.

    That brought tremendous relief. Sorting out what was anxiety and what was heart-related was so hard.

    Your suggestion of a detailed symptom journal has been very helpful.

    Also, a nurse encouraged me to not fight taking anti-anxiety meds as they would relieve the anxiety symptoms, but not any cardiac symptoms so I’d learn the difference.

    I also completely agree that the docs want your symptoms, but not your story.

    I have learned to push to tell my story but I’m also learning to refrain from looking for the easy answer like in your bicycle handle story.

    When I initially couldn’t get enough oxygen I told myself it was because I was dehydrated or walking too fast. How did that even make sense? Yet because I had no pain I dismissed, having so much trouble getting air that I thought I was going to pass out. Even with some pain I might have dismissed it, because it was just a weird feeling and embarrassing.

    Thank you for being there when I was searching for answers at three in the morning and for writing about questions and symptoms that real people have.

    Your answers and suggestions have been lifesavers for me as I negotiate this new world of high blood pressure, chest pain and congenital cardiac anomalies.

    Oh I also agree cardiac rehab has been so helpful in getting my confidence back. I’m grateful to be able to exercise in a monitored setting as I get back to exercising on my own.

    Thank you for helping so many people.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Nancy for your kind words about this blog, but I’m sorry to hear of all the reasons you found me in the first place. You’ve just joined the very exclusive club that nobody ever wants to join!

      I have included live links to some of the issues you listed for readers who have not yet read those blog posts. I can tell you found today’s post that reviews the most-read articles for 2020 (here’s the link for that too – for other readers who may have missed it!)

      Your comment reinforces why this Top 10 list included such a wide variety of topics of interest to women with heart disease.

      You’re still in relatively early days yet. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to enroll in a cardiac rehab program – smartest thing your doctors could have recommended for you.

      Your only job now is to become the world expert in your spasm diagnosis. If you do a search (top upper right corner of this page) for non-obstructive heart disease, you’ll find a number of articles here related to that under-appreciated topic too.

      Take care and stay safe! ♥

      Like

  8. I just turned 40. I hadn’t felt right for a while. I had been cleared for heart issues by my doctor. They never told me only an angiogram could tell. I suffered 2 heart attacks then went to Emerg. I had three stents placed 5 days ago – 98, 93, 99% blockages.

    I am having chest discomfort and pain in my back. St Mary’s Kitchener in Ontario Canada did send me lots of info. It’s a lot to remember in a short period of time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Sally – you are in very early days yet so are probably feeling overwhelmed and scared by what you’ve just been through. I hope you find that each day, you’ll begin feeling better, little by little, both physically and emotionally.

      I’m not a physician so cannot comment specifically on your situation, except to say that your symptoms are quite common in the days/weeks following a stent – and you’ve had three stents. It’s quite possible these are simply due to ‘stretch pain’ but if your symptoms continue or get significantly worse, do not hesitate to call your doctor.

      While you’re visiting this Heart Sisters site, you might be interested in reading some of the hundreds of articles about women and heart disease here, e.g start with “After Your Heart Attack: What Now?” which has lots of tips ranging from coming home from the hospital to resuming regular activities and lots in between. It sounds like you got lots of info from the hospital so take the time to go through that carefully. The more you can learn about what’s going on, the more confident you’ll feel.

      Good luck to you as you get settled into our recuperation. Take care, and stay safe… ♥

      Like

  9. In August of this year I had a heart attack, I had 2 blockages in my LAD and two more in my RCA. I had the 2 stents placed in the LAD then a month later had 2 more stents placed in my RCA.

    I continue to have chest pain off and on but it is nothing like the pain during my heart attack. My nurse during the first hospitalization told me I would more than likely experience chest pain from the stent placement.

    I know the arteries in my heart are open; no blockages because during the last hospitalization the doctor reviewed my entire heart health after the procedure on his iphone. Ask your doctor to review your angioplasty with you. Never leave with unanswered questions, peace of mind is priceless.

    Pam

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My father had 2 stents (100%) in his heart on 25 August. I want to know how long does the stretch pain last after angioplasty, because my father still feels some mild pain on a daily basis.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Prateek, I’m not a physician but I can tell you generally that studies suggest that about 1/3 of stent patients continue to experience stretch pain for six weeks or longer. If your father’s mild symptoms continue for some time, or if they get worse, he should see his doctor.

      Like

  11. I am 48, had two blockages 80% and 60%. My mom passed at 49 from cardiovascular disease, her last heart attack was massive and her heart was too weak.

    However my blockages were found before any damage to my heart. Two stents were placed. That was in early January this year, it’s now September and I’m continuously having squeezing pain where the stents are.

    I’m scared. Four years ago when I complained of chest pains I was told it was anxiety, which I’ve never had in my life! Then the heart attack – so I’m at the point I really don’t have faith in the doctor anymore.

    But I’ve told numerous doctors and they have no idea or shrug it off. My mom was so young to have passed at 49. That was 25 years ago, they must be able to give me some idea what it is.

    Any stress at all makes it hurt where the stents are, I’ve read this article, and it explains it but how do I get my doctor to listen to me?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sue – I’m sorry you’re having these distressing symptoms. Your question “how do I get my doctor to listen to me?” is the key to good doctor-patient communication, isn’t it? I wish I knew the answer but since I don’t know your doctor or you, I’d just be guessing at an answer to that question.

      Your family history is no doubt adding to your distress now – 49 was so young when your mother died of a heart attack. But remember that a family history of heart disease is not a death sentence. So much depends on your mother’s lifestyle, and on what yours has been, etc. Like many people, for example, I had zero family history of heart disease before my own “widowmaker” heart attack, while other people with a strong history of immediate family members having heart attacks at a very young age never go on to have one themselves. Focusing on your mother’s experience (at about the same age) may be intensifying your own distressing symptoms.

      My overall approach is to try to be honest and very direct, especially when describing symptoms. We know from research (e.g. Dr. Catherine Kreatsoulas at Harvard, who has studied how women talk about their cardiac symptoms to ER staff) that women tend to generalize or minimize their symptoms instead of being specific. A specific description might be: “the symptoms are so debilitating that I can no longer do _______ ” (insert normal daily activity). Read more at: “Words Matter When We Describe Our Heart Attack Symptoms” https://myheartsisters.org/2014/11/16/language-describing-heart-attack-symptoms/

      When one of my blog readers was prescribed anti-anxiety drugs for her chest pain and crushing fatigue she’d been suffering for months, for example, she asked her cardiologist if this new drug would help her carry her laundry basket up the stairs, “because right now I’m no longer to lift it anymore…”

      My only suggestion would be for you to start a Symptom Journal to show your doctor: including the date/time of day, description of pain, what you were doing/eating/feeling in the hours before the incident worsened and what if anything (e.g. Tylenol, going for a walk, talking to a friend, taking a dose of nitroglycerin, which I hope you have) that may have relieved your symptoms even temporarily. This can be especially useful if you find out that there are times when pain feels much worse, and times when it feels better. Observing a pattern like this may help your doctor solve this mystery.

      Good luck to you. Take care, stay safe…

      Like

  12. Hi Carolyn,
    I had a mini-heart attack while playing tennis on Aug 2nd, 2020. Before the heart attack, I was a very active individual, exercise regularly, so the event was a shock to me.

    I had a stent placement the next day and it has been exactly 7 weeks now. Every now and then, I feel this dull pain in the middle of chest and sometimes it can radiate to my right jaw. The pain is not significant and it doesn’t happen daily, but it makes me worry. I had an echo test 2 weeks ago and everything was normal!

    I am currently on blood thinner, cholesterol med (statin) and blood pressure med. If the dull pain comes and goes, should I be worried? My next appointment with my cardiologist is next Feb 2021.
    Thanks Carolyn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Derrick – welcome to the very exclusive club that none of us wanted to join…

      I’m not a physician so of cannot comment specifically on your situation, but I can tell you very generally that seven weeks sounds like it *might* be within the reported limits of stretch pain. Nobody can tell you for sure in the absence of cardiac diagnostic tests…

      But one thing you might do while you’re waiting for 2021 to roll around for your next Cardiologist’s appointment (that seems a very long time to wait when you are feeling worried!) is to start a symptom journal – that way, instead of telling your cardio that “every now and then” you feel this dull chest pain, you may in fact begin to observe a pattern emerging from your journal entries, e.g. write down the date, time of day, description of the pain (location, severity, etc), what you were doing/eating/feeling in the 2-3 hours leading up to the onset of symptoms, etc. If you do observe a pattern, it may give your doc some useful additional data to help come up with the reason for your symptoms.

      Meanwhile, I’m hoping that you were referred and are attending some sort of cardiac rehabilitation program (most programs have moved online during the pandemic). This is a valuable program offered to people with all kinds of heart disease, even for people who have already been very physically active.

      My only other suggestion might be about your usage of nitroglycerin. If you weren’t prescribed this on an ‘as-needed’ basis before hospital discharge, you can ask your GP about this. It’s a vasodilator, one of the oldest heart medications, inexpensive, very few if any adverse effects, used for decades to help manage chest pain.

      Since you’re a tennis player, I’ll tell you about a woman I met at Mayo Clinic who was a competitive tennis player too, living with chronic angina. She’d take a dose of her nitro before each daily game, and then halfway through the game she would sit down, take a second dose, wait five minutes and then continue playing. She had been doing this FOR YEARS, with her symptoms staying essentially unchanged. Something to think about/ask your doc. Here’s more on what pioneer cardiologist Dr. Bernard Lown calls a “wonder drug”. Personally, I would never leave home without my nitro.

      Good luck to you – take care…

      Like

  13. I had a stent placed in my LAD nine months ago. Ever since, I have been experiencing excruciating pain at the exact location of the stent. It is unrelenting, and nothing like the mild angina I had before the stent. I’ve seen two cardiologists, a pulmonologist, a gastroenterologist, had a cardiac nuclear stress test, a CT angiogram, a CT chest scan, an upper endoscopy, a full pulmonary function test, several X-rays. All tests were negative. No evidence of anything wrong. None of the doctors suggested the possibility of the stent being the cause.

    I asked BOTH cardiologists if it was even remotely possible that the stent was causing the pain, and they told me no. They then suggested that the problem was in my head. Doctors in Nevada are the worst. When they fail at their job, they gaslight the patient.

    I am going to UCLA next month, in hopes that a top-rated cardiologist might actually investigate my case in-depth and reach a diagnosis. It will be a tremendous burden financially, but I’m at a point where I have no other choice. I am grateful for this article. While I may not have “stretch pain”, it is by far the best fit for my symptoms. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark, I’m so sorry you are experiencing such a distressing situation. SOMETHING is causing these “excruciating” symptoms – but what? The good news: you’ve had a whack of appropriate diagnostic tests to try to solve the mystery. So much of medicine is simply trying to figure out what the problem is NOT. The bad news: if doctors now believe it’s “all in your head”, what treatment options did they recommend to reduce your symptoms? There are many causes of chest pain; some are heart-related, some are not.

      I’m NOT a physician so cannot comment specifically on your unique case, but I can tell you generally that nine months does seem long for a case of unrelenting pain to be caused by stretching in that coronary artery. After that period of time, it’s appropriate to suspect an alternative issue. I’m so glad you’re going to UCLA (professional home of Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, considered an expert on non-obstructive coronary artery disease (severe symptoms but NO blockages) Some animal studies have suggested that the size of the stent selected can also impact injury to the artery (there’s a common trend towards “bigger is better” when interventional cardiologists decide on what size stent to implant in which coronary artery (the rationale suggested in some studies is that if the diameter of the stent is too small, this may result in restenosis (a new blockage). The LAD is the biggest coronary artery, so requires a larger stent. I’d also be curious if taking nitroglycerin helps at all with this chest pain.

      The question of non-obstructive disease (coronary microvascular disease) should also be discussed while you’re at UCLA.

      Good luck to you, Mark…

      Like

  14. I had my heart attack in January of this year. Just tonight, I was experiencing a small, sharp pain to the left of my heart. It happens every so often, while sitting. I am encouraged to learn of stretch pain, but a bit worried by the amount of time that has passed. I have my third visit with cardiologist in November. I agree, there is so much we should be told in the hospital or upon discharge that we are not.

    I will get your book. Another book I got that has been helpful is 10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor After a Heart Attack.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Clair – I think once you’ve had a heart attack, any pain anywhere near the heart – no matter how long ago you were diagnosed – is a very scary event.

      My own heart attack was 12 years ago, and I also live with ongoing chest pain now due to Coronary Microvascular Disease – we just NEVER get used to chest pain – nor should we! The difference is that I have somehow learned to live with it and not freeze in terror the way I used to do in the early days.

      The trouble is that we just cannot know if this is a weird but harmless symptom, or if it means something is wrong. For sure mention this to your cardiologist and when you do, do NOT minimize how distressing this chest pain has been for you. Cardiologists need to know all of the post-procedural effects of their interventions. Most are not signs of imminent danger, but it’s good to raise their awareness so that in the future, other patients can be fully informed before hospital discharge.

      I haven’t heard of that book you recommended so I looked it up – is it Dr. Dede Bonner’s book? I will check it out!

      Take care, stay safe… ♥

      Like

  15. I had a stent put in August 13th. Stabbing pain is all over heart area. I probably should call 911 but the pain goes away after a minute or so. My cardiologist is no help what so ever. I wish now that I never had this done. I feel worse now than before. So very frustrating and helpless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Robert – stabbing pain around your heart does sound very distressing. It’s tempting to call 911 because chest pain is so scary, but the fact that it goes away after a minute or so seems reassuring.

      I’m not a physician so cannot comment specifically on your situation but I can tell you generally that you’re still in very early days yet (just over two weeks so far). Research suggests that symptoms within this time frame are likely a benign sign of healing, not of new damage.

      Try imagining your coronary artery healing with each pain episode, while breathing deeply during that minute or so (otherwise we tend to hold our breath when we’re frightened). If these symptoms continue over a long time or get significantly worse, please see your doctor.

      Hang in there…

      Like

    1. Hello Katie – You’re still in very early days yet. I’m not a physician so I cannot comment specifically on your situation of course, but I can tell you generally that it’s not unusual, as the German study suggests, to experience this benign ‘stretch pain’ for a few weeks as the coronary artery recuperates. If your symptoms continue or worsen over time, call your physician just to rule out any cardiac issues.

      Good luck – take care and stay safe… ♥

      Like

      1. I love your site and your compassionate replies to people who comment here. All your replies end with “call your physician or cardiologist if your condition worsens”.

        First of all, cardiologist seem to NEVER tell their patients that this is going to happen and it almost ALWAYS does.
        Secondly, once you have this procedure done and you experience problems, getting any help or any answers from cardiologist is near impossible.

        Once you are able to reach them by phone or in person,, their answer is ALWAYS the same, “give it time and it will pass”. No explanation to why this is happening. They just leave you in limbo to deal with fear on your own.

        Thank you for this site. Reading it does help us because we now know that it’s not just us and we are not alone!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you Robert for your kind words. You are correct – cardiologists rarely warn their patients before hospital discharge of this very common and very stressful side effect of stent implants.

          Given the research that has confirmed how predictable these symptoms can be, it’s curious that all hospitals don’t already implement routine pre-discharge instructions like, “Oh, by the way, don’t be alarmed if you notice that you’re experiencing ____ once you get home….”

          In my opinion, instructions like this should also include symptoms of situational depression (extremely common, temporary and treatable) among newly-diagnosed heart patients.

          There seems to be a patriarchal attitude throughout medicine that sounds like this: “We don’t want to even mention any possible side effects in advance because these gullible suggestible patients will all become hypochondriacs!”

          So they say NOTHING to us, forcing us to suffer in ignorance, and then call their office in great distress – which makes us sound like hypochondriacs! But had they initially treated us like adults instead, we might not panic if and when these known side effects actually occur.

          You are definitely NOT alone! Take care, stay safe …

          Like

  16. I just had the procedure done 2 days ago, I am so glad to hear of this because it describes exactly what I have been experiencing, thank you!

    All my best to all of you, for a speedy recovery!
    LB❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Well – I have had constant chest pain for 3 weeks, and it is only now that i have worked out it is reflux pain, exacerbated by the aspirin and platelet inhibitors i’m taking. I started taking omeprazol twice a day and the pain went away after 1 day. (I was on omeprazol once per day).

    Like

    1. Neil, I’m not a physician but I can tell you generally that there has been some controversy about heart patients taking omeprazol, especially if taken for more than 14 days in a row.

      If you’re saying that you have doubled your daily dosage of omeprazol (also known as Prilosec) please read this study published in 2017 in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs before you start celebrating the joys of omeprazol.

      It’s one of the family of antacid drugs called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) which have been shown in a number of studies to be associated with increased risk of poor cardiovascular outcomes.

      You don’t mention if you’re buying this drug over-the-counter or under a doctor’s prescription. Please discuss possible alternatives with your physician.

      Take care, stay safe…

      Like

  18. Thank goodness I found this article. I certainly need to do more personal research because the sharp stabbing – ‘stretch’ pains are not nice to experience esp given I haven’t had a heart attack.
    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good luck to you, Rosemarie – you didn’t mention if you had a stent implanted. Stretch pain is associated with having a stent, not with a heart attack. So if your symptoms are indeed ‘stretch’ pain, remember that they are typically a short-term problem after a stent is implanted. If these symptoms continue or worsen over time, please see your doctor!

      Take care, stay safe… ♥

      Like

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