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pain in my sternum, and shortness of breath?

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I have been experienccing a tightness in my chest, it feels like someone is sucking all my oxcygen out. I get mild chest discomfort, and anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. I am home with 3 small children, and since my husband is always working, I seem to battle the kids and daily routines alone. I feel pain in my sternum, and shortness of breath. 6 months ago, I had an ekg, and ultrasound of my heart and a 24 hour holter monitor that came back normal. I had those 3 procedures done twice in 3 years. I feel like I cannot take a full satisfying breath. I did suffer a major panic attack 8 years ago, and since then they seem to come frequently. should I worry, that there is something wrong with my heart or lungs? I feel like this is taking over my life. how accurate are those heart tests?


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replied April 16th, 2011
Anxiety and Stress Answer A22015

Hello.

The tests you have mentioned are quite specific about ruling out a disease condition. And when these tests are combined with clinical evaluation, the accuracy increases further. I guess the issue is not if there is something wrong about your heart or lungs, but what you can do to alleviate this unhealthy anxiety about having some problem with the heart or the lungs, as well as the anxiety about having other symptoms.

I assume you are under a significant amount of stress at present. Handling 3 children along with managing the household is a touch task. And you need to have adequate coping mechanisms. Your symptoms hint towards anxiety more than any medical illnesses. Anxiety is a manifestation of inner thoughts and beliefs. You might benefit from a combined anti-anxiety medication - psychotherapy approach.

Lastly, having mild mitral valve prolapse could be a reason why you might be anxious about heart-lung conditions. You need to reduce the anxiety to a minimum level before you can convince yourself that it's OK to feel this way, and that the various tests and clinical examination are more likely than not to pick up any problems.

Take care.

Abhijeet Deshmukh, MD


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