When chest pain is “just” costochondritis

Costochondritis-7by Carolyn Thomas

Many female heart patients become familiar with the word “costochondritis” only while being misdiagnosed with the condition during an actual cardiac event, as in:

  • “My MD said it was just costochondritis and a  pinched nerve, because my ribs were sore.” (LH, age 51, New York: heart attack)
  • “At first, we looked at musculoskeletal causes. It had to be costochondritis; my chest wall seemed tender to touch, so I even had steroid injections in my chest wall.” (ZM, age 59, Arizona: heart attack, 12 stents, triple bypass surgery)
  • “Pains in chest radiating down arm and up to my chin. My GP reluctantly sent me to a cardiologist who was dismissive, said that my age was a big factor and that it was 99% likely to be just costochondritis as I also have fibromyalgia” (BT, age 42, U.K: heart attack, 90% blocked LAD coronary artery, two stents)  

Continue reading “When chest pain is “just” costochondritis”

It wasn’t heart disease – but what was it?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Her medical nightmare started during the summer of 2008 when she was just 39 and began having terrifying heart attack symptoms.  It took well over two years for this mother of three from upstate New York to finally hear a correct diagnosis. Put on your diagnostician’s cap today and consider the chilling account of her experience, told in her own words over five months. Continue reading “It wasn’t heart disease – but what was it?”

What is causing my chest pain?

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by Carolyn Thomas  ♥   @HeartSisters

First of all, I think even using the word “pain” to describe a common heart attack symptom may be misleading for many women.

It’s important to remember that some women experience NO chest symptoms at all during a heart attack.(1)  And since my own heart attack, I have met countless heart attack survivors who don’t use the word “pain” to describe their chest symptoms. Cardiac researcher Dr. Catherine Kreatsoulas reminds us that words matter when women describe their chest symptoms, and can actually influence how they will be treated in the Emergency Department – or not.  Continue reading “What is causing my chest pain?”

The chest pain of angina comes in four flavours

woman angina

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

There are four main types of angina pectoris women should know about, no matter how you pronounce it: ‘anj-EYE-nuh’ in Canada or Australia, or AN-gin-uh’ in the U.S.  

The chest pain called angina is not the same as a heart attack – but it can feel like one and can in fact lead to one. Here are the four types of angina you need to know:

  • Stable angina: Mayo Clinic cardiologists define this as any pain/discomfort between neck and navel that comes on with exertion and is relieved by rest. When you climb stairs, exercise or walk, your heart muscle demands more blood, but it’s harder for the muscle to get enough blood when your coronary arteries have become narrowed. Stable angina can also be triggered by emotional stress, cold temperatures, heavy meals, smoking or other activities that can narrow arteries. learn more about the other three types of angina