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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Taken anabolic steroids. Chest pain, breathlessness, pins and needles in arm. Done angiogram. High heart rate. Cause?

4 years ago I was a professional kickboxer and decided to take anabolic steroids to enhance my training, 5 weeks after starting to take the steroids and training for 4 hours per day, I was admitted to hospital with symptoms of intense chest pain (tight feeling like someone squeezing my heart inside my chest), shortness of breath, pain and pins and needles shooting up and down my left arm, left side of my chest and left side of my neck. The first few ECG’s of that night showed an ‘ischemic’ result, so there wasn’t enough blood getting to my heart, is what I was told.
I was admitted to hospital and over the next 24 hours they found out it was not a heart attack, they did a great deal of tests to find out what happened. I had an angiogram and they found zero blockage, so I was told it was most likely a vasospasm, probably a spasm of the coronary artery. My chest and neck continued to hurt a great deal and I constantly felt as though my carotid artery on the left side of my neck was going into spasm and like someone was squeezing it, and constantly felt like someone was squeezing my heart inside my chest. So I was kept in hospital while they did a great deal of tests on me for 2 weeks, I had various scans on my neck, chest and the doctors discharged me from hospital and put me on a prescription of calcium channel blockers.
I was told at this point that the steroids sent my blood pressure through the roof, probably caused a coronary artery vasospasm and this is what caused the blood flow problems to my heart when I was admitted to hospital.
As an outpatient the cardiologists put me on a treadmill test a few months later as the pain, spasms and discomfort did not stop and was always worsened whenever I tried to exercise, or my heart rate got up fairly high. The treadmill test came back normal and the cardiologist told me that they could not find anything wrong with me heart and that they don’t know what was causing it.
They were adamant that the heart and cardiovascular system was fine, I was sent home and taken off medication and after a few months, the pain and discomfort and spasms went away, which was just over 3 years ago.
Over the last 2 months the symptoms have all returned, I live a healthy lifestyle, I am a personal trainer now and eat well, I do only light exercise for about 1 hour per day a few day per week and I DON’T take any supplements or anything like that. Just healthy diet.
I have a throbbing pain and tightness in my carotid artery in the left side of my neck, which throbs with my heart beat, and worsens every time I try to exercise, which I have had to stop completely last month due to the symptoms getting so severe.
I have the same throbbing pain and tightness in the left side of my chest, and pins and needles in my left arm, left side of my neck and left side of my chest.
My left side of my neck also spasms when it is most severe, I can feel the left carotid artery in my neck going into spasm which causes it to feel very tight and causes some pain when the symptoms are most severe.
All of the above happens all at once, and is made more severe whenever I try to exercise, and whenever my heart rate gets higher for whatever reason. I’m not stressed out and I have a pretty easy job, I don’t have to be incredibly active if I don’t want to be.
I’ve got no idea why the symptoms have started up again for the first time in 3 years or what it could be, I'm certain it is cardiovascular and that it is in fact my carotid artery that is going into spasm as I feel it throbbing with my heart beat in the spot where you take your pulse.
I'm going to see my Local GP and ask to be referred to the cardiologist, what do you think could be causing this?
Mon, 3 Jun 2013
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Cardiologist 's  Response

Hi friend,
Welcome to Health Care Magic

Problem of the heart has been appropriately investigated and excluded by an expert / No worry about that. / Still, because of your conviction and the long gap, go for a thallium stress EKG - to exclude ischemia...

One has to look for other issues and investigate...
- Consult a neurologist for problem of Autonomic Nervous System.
- Go for MRI neck and thoracic spines / for possible deformity or degeneration pressing on the nerves...
- Go for MRA (MRI Angiogram) for carotid and vertebral artery systems to exclude any malformation or pathology.

Some anti-depressants / as also some anti-seizure drugs elevate the pain threshold and help in treating the pain – irrespective of the cause...Discuss with your doctor

Take care
Wishing speedy recovery
God bless
Good luck
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