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Catherine asked...

I have been getting chest pains.

Tags: angina , coronary , heart

For the last 10 years I have been getting chest pains going down the left arm and up into the jaw.

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The answer

A coronary angiogram is considered to be the "gold standard" test for making sure that the heart arteries are not blocked. So if the pain started before you had this test, and it was carried out recently, you can be reassured that the pain is either not originating from the heart or is, at worst, Prinzmetal angina (spasm of the heart arteries). Prinzmetal angina can be treated by medication, so it would be worth discussing this with you doctor. If the pain has changed in any way since the angiography test, then it is worth being checked again, remembering that arteries can block at any time in the future, leading to heart disease. You can also address your risk factors for future heart disease by having your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly, and not smoking. Less serious causes of chest pain, such as heartburn, reflux, hiatus hernia, chest wall pain and anxiety, can certainly mimic angina and are worth bearing in mind, especially as the pains have gone on for 10 years already and not caused ill effect so far.

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