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Thread: Heart spasm?

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    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Heart spasm?

    Just wondered if anyone else has had this happen....About 2 years ago I was walking into a local restaurant to meet my son and his gf for lunch when I felt a tightness in my chest. No big deal just tight like a muscular thing. I thought it must be from the forward rolls I had done the night before at my first Kung Fu class. Then a weird soreness in my arm...but the day before I'd gotten a flu shot in that arm...that must be it. Sat down and ordered a beer but the feelings wouldn't go away. Mentioned it to my son and his gf and she looked at me like "Are you the dumbest guy in the room?" "Go to the hospital", she said. Oh, what the hell it's only a couple blocks away, I thought. So, I went. At the hospital they said I was having a heart attack. What? I don't have heart attacks. I'm still immortal. So they shipped me off to a major hospital about 1/2 hour away. Had all the tests and, eventually, a consult with a Cardiologist. Here's what he told me:

    1. My heart is stronger than normal.
    2. I have no blockage.
    3. My heart is getting "all the blood it needs."

    So, what happened? Apparently I had a "heart spasm." So, "What do I do now?", I asked. "Go home and have a nice life. Yes you can go ride your bike just give it a few days before you start riding again." Then they sent me home with scripts for 5 different meds which almost killed me. (But, that's another story.) Now I take a baby aspirin and 5 mg of Crestor every day and am back to normal. Riding as hard as ever and no signs of a problem. Sound familiar to anyone?

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    hate to say it but sorta, not quite to the extent you discribe,tightness like a cramp or a belch,burp sorta,nothing going into arm. I wonder why they put you on medicaton? that would be the last thing i would want.I know i have said before, best to get it checked out.And why would you get a flu shot as healthy as you are?

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Having; 1, stronger than normal heart; 2, no blockages; 3, all the blood your heart needs; is great, but blood flow isn't the only thing. The nerves need to fire properly for the heart to work, and problems with that is what pacemakers are for. This can be entirely different and independent from blood supply issues so aspirin, Crestor, etc.. might have no bearing on it.

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    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    I think the MDs are concerned that if they don't put you on meds to control every damned thing that "might" happen they're not covering themselves. I was put on a med for high BP which I don't have. There were at least 4 other meds to go with it. And, it damn near killed me. I won't go into all the symptoms but I was a mess. I called my Cardiologist who said, "Why don't you stop taking one at a time to see which one is the problem." I said, "How about if I stop taking all of them until I get back to normal?" And, that's what I did. Later when I was off everything but the aspirin my Cardiologist switched me to Crestor instead of Lipitor. Haven't had a problem since. In fact, when I took a stress test I was in great shape. Now when I get on a tread mill and bring my HR up to 90% max and then drop down to a walk my HR drops 30 beats in a minute's time. Really good recovery I'm told.

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    Just curious to why dont you drop the Crestor, i know nothing but Crestor but i do Know i would not mess with Lipitor.

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    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    A calcium channel blocker (the high blood pressure pill) is often prescribed for people who have coronary arterial spasms. They can reduce the frequency of attacks as they relax the arteries. Statins are often prescribed as well, as they can reduce heart attack and stroke for those with risk factors even if you do not have bad lipid profile.

    Have your doc explain the risks and benefits are various treatments for your particular situation.

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    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    I haven't heard of "heart spasm", but I do know about pericarditis.
    It sort of mimics a heart attack, and is less common, so you get treated like you are having a heart attack until they can rule it out.
    I spent half of this past New Years weekend in ER & ICU with this.

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    Would this fall under the description of a heart spasm? My resting heart rate is about 40 with max around 175. What happens every so often, only when I am referreeing than riding is I get a quick hit, like maybe a skip as though maybe my heart rate is trying to kick to a higher beat real fast. Then I am fine, I continue on with no second hit for the evening. I find if I slowly warm up then it never happens, it seems if I go from stop to fast running I "may" get the hit. With riding a bike I think because I am warming up at a reasonible rate it does not happen.

    I was in the hospital the end of last year for what turned out out be a gaul bladder attack and past all the tests with flying colors and did very very well on the stress test (as they were covering their bases as they 1st thought I was having a heart attack).

    Has anyone experienced this happening? Would this be a spasm?

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    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    I had the "pressure in the chest" thing once years ago. I finally went to the doctor, who ordered a bunch of tests including a stress test. Passed with flying colors. Turned out that I had an inflammation in the connective tissues where the ribs met the sternum (arthritis?). Any way, he gave me a prescription for anti-inflammatory meds and it went away never to return.

    I never want to take one of those stress tests again, though. They hook you up with all of these electrocardiogram leads, then put you on a treadmill to get your heart up to a certain bpm. Then you're supposed to jump from the treadmill onto a cot that's positioned immediately at the foot of the treadmill so they can run the ultrasound probe around to get their pics. Anyway I'm a big guy with long legs, and they had trouble getting my heart rate up. They kept turning the treadmill faster and faster, and I kept trying to keep up without breaking into a run (which they didn't want me to do), and I kept feeling my heels just brushing the damned cot behind me. I was scared to death I was going to bang my heel on the frame of that cot and rupture my Achilles Tendon, and the treadmill would spit me across the cot and out into the hallway! Finally, after what seemed like an eternity on the treadmill, the technician finally declared "close enough" and turned the thing off and did the test.

    Funny thing, though. Remember way back when, during the VietNam war, they instituted the draft lottery? Well, as luck would have it, I was in the first lottery! My birthday was pulled as #14! Only thing I've won in my life! I think I got my draft notice that afternoon! So I report to the induction center for my physical. I'm in this line with a bunch of other kids, stripped down to our skivvies, going from test station to test station. So they do a chest x-ray, and then on to more tests. Next thing, this orderly comes out and calls my number, tells me to get dressed, and that the doctor wants to talk to me. So I go see this doctor and he's kind of evasive, and beating around the bush, and basically says that the war is winding down, they don't need that many soldiers, and he's going to give me a 4F rating. Well, I didn't really want to go walk around the hot humid jungle with a ***** and flak vest and heavy pack and helmet and have people shooting at me, so I'm thinking "Cool!" I hit the door running and never looked back.

    Years later I'm married and have a couple of kids, and I decide maybe I should get a complete physical. Never had one before. So I call my family doctor and make an appointment.

    Well, the doctor is doing his examination, part of which is to take a chest x-ray. Next thing you know he comes in the room wheeling this electrocardiogram machine, and says he'd like to run off a EKG strip. So he hooks me up and runs the test, then goes on with the rest of the exam.

    At the end, during the consultation, he explains. He said that when he saw the chest x-ray the first thing he thought was that I had an enlarged heart. A sure sign of heart disease. So he ran the EKG to confirm it. But the EKG strip was perfect. He actually said that if he wanted to take a sample EKG strip to show a medical school class what a perfect EKG looked like, he'd take mine! But he was totally stumped about what he thought was my enlarged heart. He said he finally got out an anatomy book where they listed the ratio of heart width to rib cage width, then used dividers to step my measurements off of the x-ray. He said my heart size was perfect for my rib cage width, and that I was just a big guy!

    I bet that selective service doctor was thinking that they better get me out of the building before I coded, otherwise there'd be a LOT of PAPERWORK!
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    tpelle,that was a very funny story,thanks for sharing it.

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    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Haven't had even a semblance of an issue since that one time.

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    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
    Funny thing, though. Remember way back when, during the VietNam war, they instituted the draft lottery? Well, as luck would have it, I was in the first lottery! My birthday was pulled as #14! Only thing I've won in my life! I think I got my draft notice that afternoon! So I report to the induction center for my physical.
    I'm just impressed that you didn't get sent to the Group W bench.

  13. #13
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    All I can say is the only time I felt like my heart was going to give out on me was last year when climbing Whiteface. I wore an HRM and when the race started my heart rate got up to 185, my goal was below 165. I dropped down to my lowest gear but no improvement. My cadence dropped and I was mashing and still no relief. This went on for 100 minutes until I got to the top, towards the end I felt like my heart was going to come out of my chest, my whole chest hurt and I was getting light headed. At the finish I dismounted my bike and stumbled around a bit. Now I plan to repeat this wonderful experience this year.
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    Ha Ha Ha, group W bench, You can get anything you want at Alices restaurant!
    Last edited by freedomrider1; 04-16-11 at 01:22 PM.

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    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    Well, I'm 58 years old now, and I guess the rule of thumb about heart rate is the old 220 minus your age thing, which for me would be 162. I regularly see numbers way higher than that on my hrm when I'm climbing, and I asked my doctor about that. He said that as long as the number dropped back down to 120 or so within a minute or so of resting I was OK. But if it ever went way up and stayed up, I should dial 911.

    Typically, when riding along at my usual (slow) pace on the flats, my hrm reads 125 to 135.
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    the stories affirm the old rule: Tests are tests, facts are facts, but what they mean is up to the interpreter.

    Docs make a lot of money off the worried well. Once youi accept your imperfections and your mortality life is brighter and your money is in your pocket and not the doc's.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  17. #17
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    The old rule has been discredited. There is way too much variation in the human population. The only way to gauge HRmax is in a laboratory. Many ahtletic people figure their HRmax based on what they see on the heart rate monitors at peak exertion -- such as climbing a hill.

    I really think that anyone who has questions about the behaviour of their heart should consult a doctor and at least get an ECG done.

    I've had one heart attack around the age of 42, and I am cautious about just how far I push myself. I also occasionally get what effectively is a double heart beat tht makes it appear as though I have missed a beat. My GP said it is a double contraction right on top of each other; he was familiar with my cycling, and said it shouldn't be a significant issue.

    I am on a daily dose of enteric-coated aspirin, and that's it. I get warned sometimes that my cholesterol levels might be a bit high, but I try to control that with diet, and reduce the amount of red meat I might be eating.

    As to heart spasm, I have a theory: The heart is yet another muscle in the body. When we exercise and sweat and become dehydrated, I cannot see why the heart should not react in the same way as any other muscles in the body -- if the salts (sodium and potassium) are depleted along with the fluids, it might just cramp, which translates in to a form of heart attack.

    I am not medically qualified in any way, so consider what I say as hogwash, if you wish.
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