History of CHF with painful cramps in armpits and breasts

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Submitted by Dr T on November 30, 2010 – 6:08pm

Hello, I’m a 55 year old woman, and a psychologist. Six years ago I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and a cardiomyopathy. For the last 2 years, I have been getting excrutiating painful cramps that start near my armpit and go into my breast. The cramps last for about 10 to 15 minutes, my blood pressure gets sky high,(180/120)and the agony is indescribable.The first time it happened, I went to the hospital, thinking I was having a heart attack. Nothing wrong. I’ve had it in front of a GP twice after putting on my shoes, he did absolutely nothing.I just went through an episode that was one of the worst, my breast and armpit muscles are tender to touch. A heating pad seems to help a bit.I dread the next time. It happens sometimes 3 to 4 times a week, other times I can go for a week without one.It would be great to get some help and insight! Thanks so much.

Since you are a therapist yourself, you will understand how difficult it is to advice someone with insufficient information and w/o an examination. However, at your age, a cardiac cause needs to be eliminated, particularly because women so often have atypical symptoms:
I suggest therefore you see your cardiologist again and let him check you out, preferably with a stress ECHO.
There are of course other reasons for chest pain, some of which you will find explained here:
You may also want to calculate your risk for heart disease:
Other than that when your GP examined you, I assume she could not find anything in your breast or axilla (lumps, swollen glands)?
Hope this helps,
Dr T

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