Tightness in chest, feels like a fist is closing its grip around my heart.
Shortness of breath, it hurts so take in deep breaths, so shallow breathing helps.
Each episode lasts between 15 minutes to an hour, and varies in severity. First time this happened was when I was seventeen and started on the birth control patch. Episodes increased in frequency for about two years (four-six times a year at its worst) and had EKG/MRI done (in Aruba), with no results. Doctors there thought it might be anxiety/panic attacks, but it doesn't fit with my symptoms, as they are purely physical and not related to any emotions. I managed to work myself through each one (with breathing techniques) for about three years. I moved to the States and had the same two tests done, with no results. Walked around with a portable heart monitor for a month, with no result. Then, the doctor suggested I change birth controls, and after I went from the patch to a regular pill, the episodes decreased in frequency, and finally stopped completely.
This was about six years ago. Three months ago, I started feeling a tightness in my chest again, very minor (so much so, I thought it was heartburn) but it has been slowly building until this past weekend, where I had another episode and had to go to the hospital. Doctors were very busy (holiday weekend) so when nothing but an elevated heart rate showed up on the monitors, they assumed it was an anxiety/panic attack, prescribed some heavy duty drugs and sent me home.
I am not a doctor, but I know this isn't a panic/anxiety attack, it feels purely physical when it happens. I do have to admit an episode will feel more intense/tightness is worse if I have been drinking alcohol, but alcohol is not involved every time it happens.
I want to be armed with some information when I dive back into the melee and try once again to figure out what this is/could be, as I don't want to hear it was a panic attack, so any suggestions as to what this could be related to, would be greatly appreciated.
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