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Esophageal spasms that feel like a heart attack

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I was wondering if anyone here has ever had an esophageal spasm that felt like a heart attack.  The information I have been able to find on the Internet has pretty much all been a quote from the same text and not very encouraging about treatment options.

I'm not 100% sure, but my doctor thinks that I have suffered at least two of these this past week (after eliminating my heart as the cause of my chest pain) and I was just wondering if anyone else here had ever experienced this problem and what if anything can be done to treat it.

Edited Nov 10 2013 00:16 by coach_k
Reason: locked to prevent unnecessary zombie bumps
34 Replies (last)

I have been having symtoms similar to yours for the last two months off and on. I have been to the ER three times and the doctor 4 or 5 times. All say its GERD. My chest is sore at the middle of my breast bone. One doctor gave me a GI Cocktail that knocked it right out. I am tired of having all this discomfort. Even if I lift my grandson it will sometimes start the pain. I've had test such as blood work,x-rays,but haven't had the scope yet because I have no insurnace at this time. I am in hopes I won't have to keep going on like this. One doctor told me not to Carbs at all.

I've been esophagitis attacks since 1979. I had my esophageal spasm attack March, 2009. I woke up with a heavy feeling in the center of my chest which progressed to the worst pain (except for childbirth) that I've ever had. Called 911. I was sweating profusely. The pain faded, but came back about an hour later. I've had 3 more attacks since then. Docs thought it was biliary colic, I had sludge in my gallbladder, they removed it and then I had the last attacks. I have found something that works really well. I take Librax for IBS. It's a smooth muscle relaxant. Last night, I woke up with the heavy feeling in my chest, took a Librax, and sat for a few minutes with my head down on the kitchen table, taking all pressure off of my chest. I did sleep for the next 3 hours in a recliner, but the pain never came. I had an endoscopy week before last and they found esophagitis.  I take Nexium, but I'm still bothered off and on with the feeling of something stuck in my throat. I've been taking Librax, as needed, for more than 20 years. I've tried Levsin and Bentyl, but they had too many side effects. Librax just takes away the pain but doesn't mess with your head. Good Luck!

I get what I have been told are Esophageal Spasms but there has never been a definite test ... I get chest pain that scares me quite a bit..   I have been scoped and have Barretts esophagitis..  It comes out of the blue or sometimes I will wake with it..  Crushing chest pain..  what I have found that works for me is..  Eating a piece of bread!  well I swallow a little larger than normal piece and chase it with water..  so as to scrape the sides of my tube there...  the pain goes away usually within the first to third piece I swallow.

Still scares the **** out of me.. I have panic so that kicks in sometimes depending... and I have called 911... or a nurse/DR to get some mental relief. Of course this depends on my mental state at the time... there are times I eat the bread and not give it much thought at all..

It sucks really... but nice to know that I am not alone


Quez Man

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I have been getting these strange pains for years and they have recenly got worse. The last time I was sitting down with the kids when I felt this strange ache in the back of my mouth, then my back started to hurt, then I got up and the pains would leave one place and go to another, I was terrified. At one point they were in my upper back and there was a strange sensation in my left cheek,although I had also had pains on the right and lower down near the kidneys.

Eventually they went, and this was about after half an hour, I had an EKG done at the doctors the next day which was normal and I now have to have a stress test.

Does this sound familiar

Please answer,I hate this

I am assuming that you are a female by the things you said in your post here... What I have doesnt sound at all like what you are describing...  From what I hear heart pain in women sometimes presents itself differently than in men..  I am not a doctor so far be it for me to even determine with much certainty what is going on with you there.

However, if I was to guess it sounds like it could be stomach related... Gall bladder pain presents in the back as well.. It is good that your EKG is normal...  You might want to take an antacid or eat something when you have this phenomena to see if that will relieve it?  Maybe also make a mental note of what you are doing when this does happen.  

For me it has been a long time since I have had my episode of the chest pain.. which is nice.. 

My best to you in your endeavor..

Prayers to you as well!

Let me know how things turn out

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I know exactly what you are talking about. The first time it happened (1993) it scared the crap out of me.

Formerly I would just wait out the 15 or 20 min while it went it's course (swallowing and burping seemed to give me a little relief). The good news is that I did find an almost instant cure that seems to work 90% of the time whether at the very initial stage or when it is fully developed....3 or 4 gulps of water gives me instant relief. Usually it works the first time but sometimes I have to repeat a couple times but it always does give me relief. I make a point of always having a bottle of water in my car.

I was diagnosed with esophageal spasms over 10 years ago. To have a proper diagnosis for esophageal spasms they put a tube through my nose and way down my throat.  The other end was hooked to a computer.  The doctor pulled it out a fraction of an inch and ran a test.  That was repeated for about an hour until the tube was fully removed.  Then the tube was re-inserted, taped to my face and hooked to a recorder on a shoulder bag which I kept on for 24 hours.  The 2 tests were compared and the doctor said that my esophagus was spasming about 80 % of the time.  By spasm it meant that food was not pushed properly to the stomach but piled up (backed up) in the throat until it became clogged which ended up in extra painful spasms,  sometimes resembling heart attacks.  (I have had on occasion terrible painful spasms with just water)  I have lived with this for  over 10 years.  Most of the time it is a mild inconvenience but sometimes I feel that I come close to choking to death. The pain is so  bad I cannot breath.  The pain is intense, my chest hurts, my eyes and nose water,  I gag for several minutes.  Sometimes the only relief is for the food to come up and out. Usually after that I am fine.

Medicine.  IF I TAKE MY MEDS BEFORE I EAT I NEVER have any problems.  I often forget.  I have been taking Bentyl  (dicyclomine) for 10 years before meals.

On occasion I can choke on just water. The spasms have nothing to do with what I eat, the temp or anything.  They are random and for me frequent. Rather than guess, get the test so you can be certain if it is esophageal spasms.

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I went the same route as most, thinking it was my heart.  Went to ER on 2 different occasions.  I've been getting these esophageal spasms for over 25 years.  I do not have acid reflux.  There is nothing wrong with my esophagus or stomach.  I had an upper endoscopy to verify that.  My heart also checks out fine.  There is no medicine to treat this problem.  I have connected household cleaning chemicals to mild attacks.  Some very severe attacks hit for no apparent reason.  They are so painful I can barely breathe through them and can last up to an hour with a bruised feeling the next day.  But a lot of them are directly connected to stress.  I planned a Florida vacation alone in December and the day before I was to leave I had 8 attacks in one day.  (Usually I only have maybe 6 a year.)  I have learned one trick that works 95% of the time.  At the first sign of an attack, get a large glass of water as hot as you can stand it.  Drink the whole thing in large gulps standing up as straight as you can.  It usually reduces the pain significantly and definitely shortens the duration of the attack.

Hope this helps someone.

It got to a point where I couldn't eat because that was when mine occurred. Had to drink everything warm. Look into acid reflux or even an esophageal Ulsar. Myself having Crohn's disease I'm very prone to them. But it is like a massive heart attack feeling. Horrible pain.
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Yes I have recently been told I have Barrett's Syndrome . This is a symptom . Had an endoscopy to check for this. Can become cancer

I have semelar symptom for years now. My fear is dying from this... I have most test I could have, I seen several Doctor for this, and call Ambulance, they keep saying reflux from my stomach all medicine not helping, sometimes I give up! I try all sort of vitamins not work ether. Sometimes I take nexum but I found the more I take the worsen it is for me. Now I have attack but not so bad and Im started get better. I remember when I was small if I have upset Tammy my grandma make me ginger tea. so one day I walk to asian food store I seen ginger tea on pack. when I have attack I boiled water then drink ginger tea. minutes letter is gone. so I found ginger tea it work merucle for me, I went back on the shop buy more. but they do have different kind of ginger tea, I try others but some ginger tea not working so the first one I try was really good and thats what I'm using now and I feel better everyday the symptom dessafering not totally but I can feel Im getting better . when i feel a tick between my chest im not panic i just make ginger tea. after three gip on hot water ginger tea is gone... Laughing

I have been suffering with spasms since December. Been on drugs, had botox, been stretched, nothing seems to help, now I have gotten hoarse. I am so very upset. I know stress plays an important part. I seem incapable of helping myself. I also have lower back issues and lichen sclerosis.

Any ideas?

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 I was leaving a  pet store walking to my car and felt my chest tightening with a deep ache at the sternum area followed by a pervasive deep ache in my lower jaw and teeth  It was unrelenting (not sharp pain -- but deep strong ache that did not let up).  I called my family Dr. 15 min away and drove to them (.....don't say anything, I knowww... but I hate to bother anyone--ambulance-- unless I am sure its an emergency) .  Dr. examined me, they did the electrocardiogram and I was sent to cardiologist who also came up with not a heart attack.  I later passed the stress test and the ultrasound. 

  What happened? All I could think of was that it was a spasm of my esophagus since for a few weeks after that, a couple times when eating, I could not swallow without feeling like my esophagus closing / was too tight to let anything go down (painful) and the pain traveled down into behind the sternum.  Now I have learned to immediately stop the swallowing action if I feel even a tinge of trouble. I later learned from my gastroenterologist that I did not have an ulcer, but had a small hiatal hernia and maybe reflux.
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Hey there... yes I have been having them for some time now... i'll go three to five days of constant pain, jaw and arm pain... have been to the E.R. many times as it elevates my blood pressure obviously due to the pain... EKG are all fine, and blood work comes back all good (nothing to do with the heart) but does it ever feel like it...  They have me on Lansoprazole to try and help with it, but unfortunately no luck yet.. only been a few days though... they have me trying pain relievers which do help, but not a long term fix.. should the medications not work they suggested doing a endoscopy to inject the esophagus with something to stop the spasms... can't remember what the inject exactly, but I'll find out and post for you soon... if anything else has become of your incident.. post.. love to hear your suggestions if you have found a way to eliminate or reduce the spasm pain

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