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Sharp pain around the heart. Family history of cardiac arrythmia, BP and stroke. Can this be related to heart disease?

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Practicing since : 1981
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I am a healthy, 45 year old female; 5.6 147 pounds with no previous health issues. I am a smoker, perhaps 10 a day.
I have for many years experienced mild twinges of what I can only call 'sharpness' in the area around my heart. I've had this for as long as I can remember and mostly it occurs when I lie down at night - don't notice it during the day. The reason I've now decided to question whether this is 'normal' or not is twofold; firstly, I've never experienced such twinges on the right hand side of my chest, hence not muscle related and b. My father died suddently of cardiac arrythmia 4 weeks after a major, unexpected heart attach (aged 71) and my mother has ishaemic heart disease (aged 66) and a family history of blood pressure / stroke. My blood pressure is normal by the way. Is this something I need to investigate or are there perhaps less ominous reasons for the twinges I've been experiencing. Finally, the twinges are not painfull, merely annoying and disconcerting. Always on left side of heart.
Posted Sun, 8 Jul 2012 in Hypertension and Heart Disease
Answered by Dr. Anil Grover 8 hours later

Thanks for writing in.
I am a cardiologist and read your mail with diligence.

Detailed description you have written is not suggestive of heart related angina but more like gasto esophageal reflux disease.

However, you have certain risk factors for heart disease Smoking is the prominent one. Though I am not sure of family history as that is more relevant when disease in parents started around when they were 50 year old. Nonetheless, this is right time to get yourself investigated for coronary artery heart disease and its risk factors please fix an appointment with doctor. Who, I am sure will do a complete physical examination and order the necessary investigations like EKG possibly Tread Mill Test, Fasting Blood Sugar and Lipid Profile. If these turn out to be normal that is good. Meanwhile, you try the following:
1. Avoid lying down for at least an hour after taking your meals,
2. Use available OTC antacids one tablespoonful one and three hours after meals

If the doctor also thinks that this reflux disease wherein your stomach contents spill into food pipe you will be prescribed drugs like pantoprazole or any other proton pump inhibitors.

Incidentally, heart lies in the center of body behind sternum not on left side so there is no side of heart. Though, it is prudent to think of heart disease whenever there is suspicion. Yes, I would suggest cut down on smoking it is not good for either of the disease we are considering.

If you have any other query, I will be happy to answer.

Good Wishes

Dr Anil Grover
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