Members | Sign In
All Forums > Your Story

My experience of precordial catch syndrome

posted Nov 10, 2010 13:22:51 by gardenplant
I first noticed this condition when I was 15, although I had no idea what it was at the time. The way to describe it would be that my heart felt like an empty crisp (chips if you're American) packet resting against a shard of broken glass thinking it was about to tear at anytime. I'm now 30 and only now is the frequency of the "catches" beginning to ease up, much in line with the notion that it's an adolescent condition.

I believe Precordial catch syndrome is linked to stress. I have found that alcohol has helped relieve the severity of the attacks when it has come on for me. Please note I in no way condone alcohol as the solution, only that it has helped ME take my mind off and temporarily calmed me down at the time of the attacks. You may think that alcohol works because it thins your blood and so there's easier blood circulation and that the condition could be linked to this as has been described that people usually have an attack at times when they are inactive, but I can say that in my experience I have experienced it while running, walking, cycling e.t.c., and that also going back to the blood thinner point I have tried aspirin with no effect or relief.

Again I think this condition is more a psychological one although in the end it results in a physical outcome.

For example take Anorexia. People who suffer from this believe they are fat so psychologically they take action to stop eating. It has started out as a mental disorder but pretty soon it will result in a physical one as their stomachs shrink and their muscles waste away. I think the same bears fruit in Precordial catch syndrome that growing up stressed and tense has tightened precordial muscles and thus every now and then they temporarily snag or give the heart a hard time to efficiently pump resulting in the sharp pain.

I would be interested to hear your stories, theories, symptoms and relief methods and maybe together we can work to solve the mystery behind this condition.

Finally, I set up this forum as this website gets 1000 unique visitors a month so do not worry if you think that it's only you and me and a hand full of others that has this condition.
[Last edited Nov 10, 2010 13:43:54]
page   1 2 3 4 next last
57 replies
lukechad said Nov 12, 2010 10:05:33
I have just been diagnosed with having PCS.

2 years ago I was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat which I still have, it causes me no problems or discomfort, but in the past 6 months I have been getting pains on the left side of my chest and obviously was quite concerned that I may have a problem with a heart valve sticking (the cause of an irregular heartbeat for me). Especially concerned when I feel a click as the pain ends, as if the valve was working again.

I was very relieved to read about this condition and quite baffled that it is blamed on a condition in the lung, I'm not convinced on this one personally, as I feel it happening on the left of the body in all sufferers isnt a coincidence is it????

My pain worsens with breaths (maybe the reason for it being blamed on the lung), but I think its the extra pressure on the heart causing the more intense pain personally.

There isnt alot of information on the condition but I will be looking into it further to find out more peoples accounts of this condition.
gardenplant said Nov 12, 2010 12:12:06
Hi lukechad,

Thanks for your post! Very interesting. I hope you don't mind if I ask you some questions?......

When you say you feel a "click" is that what it is?, or is it more like a slipping/ sliding sensation as if a tendon has rolled back into its correct position along the ridges of your rib cage?

Also have they prescribed you any medication for the "sticky heart valve"? Has the sticky heart valve caused or does it give you heart palpitations?

I have to agree it can't be a coincidence that the pain always occurs on the left side. I too would at this stage dismiss it being linked to the lungs, I also think a lung condition would show a lot more other alarming symptoms first before it even led to the condition of precordial catch syndrome such as asthma,emphysema... neither of which I have ever suffered.

I was interested to read about you describing the extra pressure on your heart as you're breathing during the "catches". I'm going to just throw an off-ball theory for a moment as there's not a lot known about the condition. What if the pressure on the heart came internally and pushed the heart against the ribcage... For example a benign cyst growing in the stomach pushing the heart and valves against the ribcage? Although if this was the case I'm sure the condition would appear / occur in many cases of women being pregnant. (thought of this while typing out the previous bit; was thinking out allowed but best to get these speculative theories out of the way early).

I'm hoping we get more posts so that we can perhaps see a pattern in our symptoms, causes and conditions. I asked my cousin who's a doctor why there is so little information about this condition on what is the most important organ in the body and his reply was quite frank "As long as it's not life threatening and patients can live alongside the condition then the medical world will look into profit against research cost, if the margins are too small it's a no go".
gardenplant said Nov 17, 2010 02:48:50
lukechad, Following on from what you've said I found this website forum that may be of use to you....
Smuzza said Dec 02, 2010 11:19:28

I have suffered with PCS since I was about 10 years old but only recently realsied what it was after thinking it was heartburn for the last 14 years! I must say I am relieved but the latest attack has now lasted for nearly 48 hours which is slightly worrying. I can't breath in enough to make it pop it just a constant pain at the mo. It is also stopping me sleeping at night as I can't lay on my back or side! Anyone ever heard of it lasting this long??
gardenplant said Dec 02, 2010 11:53:20
Hi Smuzza,

For me personally it has never lasted so long, as in constant, but I definitely get it daily many times. What I would suggest is making an appointment straight away with your doctor. If it is very severe go straight to the A & E department of your hospital and demand to be seen. Don't feel embarrassed I've done this twice before. I've also been to a private cardiologist who gave a thorough check. Although I didn't have all the tests.

What I'm going to recommend is a couple of daily vitamins that may help. One is Co-Q10 try to get the highest dose you can find ideally 200mg but if you want I think some people take 400mg so 2 a day.

Secondly L-Carnitine again try to get a high, good quality dose.

I'm currently experimenting with vitamins to try to find a good balance.

Neither of these is a cure but I find the Co-Q10 REALLY dulls the pain. Also the L-Carnitine helps people with angina exercise without feeling chest pains, allegedly.
Smuzza said Dec 02, 2010 13:09:38
I've never had it for this long before, and I usually only get it once a month maybe. But I had it saturday night for about an hour then it came on again Tuesday afternoon. It is feeling much better today, I can breath in as far as i can without it hurting but I can't bend over or lie on my side without that horrible pain! I did take some Amitriptyline last night and that seemed to help me when it came to lying on my side. Not sure if it helped as it's used as a muscle and nerve relaxant. Plus it knocks me out!! Maybe I will make an appointment with the docs if still like it tomorrow.
Smuzza said Dec 02, 2010 16:05:07
I am in the UK too. I have never been to the docs about it before as I only just realised what it is and always thought it was heartburn untill I described it to people and they just give you a blank look and say 'that doesn't sound like heartburn' plus it's never gone on this long before. It does feel a bit like stitch I suppose if you think about, but I really don't know, nobody does do they! I'm not particularly active, mainly do lots of walking. But as I said before I rarely get it, just happens every now and then, just so happens this attack is goin on for a while! I will call the doc 2moz if it's the same. Just don't want to venture to the docs in this snow!! It's like a 30 min walk away!! lol
gardenplant said Dec 02, 2010 16:22:17
lol, I know the snow's bad. Yeah there's not a lot on this condition. It's a good sign that you don't get it too often. I really think it's pointing towards bad posture, slouching and the way we sleep. The only thing is with me is I really find it a weird sensation to fall asleep on my back kind of like travelling facing backwards to the direction the train's going, but come the new year it's my resolution (how grand lol) to sleep on my back to see if it helps cut it the frequency of the "catches".

Seriously though if it gets really bad go to the hospital's accident and emergency department where they're obliged to check you out (it's the NHS, you're paying for it you have a right) and hopefully they might give you an ECG exam just to monitor your heart for a bit.

The first time I went to see my GP about it I was told I had to wait for an appointment the next day and so I just said to myself "f**k it" I'm going to the hospital and I just walked in no appointments and got it seen to straight away. I know I sound like a bulshy, demanding guy but I'm not like that at all. I NEVER go and have NEVER been to the doctor for anything else apart from the two times when it was really playing up bad and before I knew what Precordial catch syndrome was, I only found out that there was a term/ condition for what I was experiencing 3 years ago.
Smuzza said Dec 02, 2010 16:50:11
I must admit it is strange to suddenly find out what it is and that so many others suffer from it. I always felt really alone because no one understood the pain and had never experienced the symptoms I was explaining. I remember when I was about 10 yrs old and I had it really bad one night and my Aupair told me to breath in deep till it popped and I will never forget that pain, that's why I don't have the guts to do it nowadays! I always wondered if I did damage to something when I did that and always tried not to do it since but now I find out that that's the best way to get rid of it!

I do tend to slouch alot, working at a desk 8 hours a day doesn't help. Maybe I will try and inprove my posture. I tend to fall asleep on my side and wake up on my back, but the last couple of nights I have had to sleep laying pretty much upright just so it didn't hurt. Maybe I should just lie down, make it hurt then breath in and pop it, then it will prob go but I just can't face the pain of it!!!
gardenplant said Dec 02, 2010 17:09:03
Honestly making this website I genuinely thought I wouldn't get 1 visitor, I'm even a bit surprised I'm talking with you lol! I never thought anyone else suffered from it!

Check this out :

Obviously not all the visitors will have what we do but even if it's 1% that's 15 people a month and there'll be many more who don't have access to a computer or like you and I will take a while to self diagnose or be diagnosed with it.

Try to be a bit more active, honestly swimming is AMAZING! I know there's a recession but if you can join a gym with a pool.

Check back here from time to time as hopefully between us all we might find things that help and who knows maybe one day solve it.
[Last edited Dec 03, 2010 03:25:25]
Smuzza said Dec 02, 2010 17:15:28
Me too, don't feel so alone now. It's great. I've even shown my boyfriend info on it so he stops thinking that i'm over reacting or making it up! I will let you know if I come across a cure!!! lol
chappers81 said Dec 05, 2010 10:12:57
I diagnosed myself with PCS yesterday!I had the pain as a child and was worried that I was having a heart attack! My mum took me to the doctor, but of course I didn't actually have the symptoms at the time. She said it was probably mild asthma. It's not. I don't have asthma. Anyway, it happened occasionally throughout childhood - the symptoms being: pain when breathing in on my left side right where you can feel your heart beat strongly. The pain is really sharp like a bad stitch sort of like you're being stabbed from inside. The deeper I breathe in, the worse it gets until it gives way - feels like a crack or pop and then I'm fine. The pain stopped sometime when I was younger, came back once at uni and now I'm 29 I had it again a couple of days ago and yesterday had it about 5 or 6 times. One time it lasted for around half and hour, another time just a couple of breaths.
I've always been very active and from what I remember I've never had it when walking around/exercising. I'm a PE teacher now so spend most of the day on my feet which may explain the reduction in it occurring. I had quite bad posture as a kid and yesterday I was nursing a hangover and was lying on the sofa all day which may have brought it on. In terms of getting rid of the pain I just wait, taking shallow breaths. Changing position sometimes helps - putting hands behind head, stand up and opening up the chest sometimes works. Taking a deep breath and dealing with the pain sometimes and other times nothing - like the long one yesterday. It just goes on it's own...eventually. Glad I haven't had it for 48 hrs. That's horrendous! I'd definitely go to the Doctor, at least then they can see it in action. Glad I finally know what it is now and that i'm not the only the one in the world who has it! I get weird looks when I explain it!
TIM said Jan 03, 2011 20:11:56
Hi there,

I believe I may have been suffering this problem.

I am 44 years old, male, fairly fit through walking, running and generally keeping fit. I dont smoke or drink (maybe one bottle of beer a day) I often work long hours sometimes only getting a few hours sleep a night, although this is rare.

I few years ago I started getting a dull ache in the left side of my chest normally when very tired after a night shift when lying down. It has always been just a dull pain, not enough to take any pain killers. A few times i have suffered a sharp pain in my chest for a few breathes, when i breathe in the pain pops and goes away which definately matches the symptoms.

Does the dull continual pain sound like PCS ??

I have a doctors appointment tomorrow which i booked last week. Today i found out about PCS which i didnt know existed.

I will let you know what they say.

luke chadbourne said Jan 04, 2011 20:11:58
Hi there gardenplant,

I missed your reply some weeks ago about my post.

I havent been given any medication for the lazy valve as its something that cant be stopped, basically on one of the rythms of the beat, the valve letting the blood into the heart stays locked shut and allows no blood into the heart, so the heart rushes another beat to try and get the blood it wants, which usually causes the extra beat. As for when I miss beats im not sure exactly what causes that but I imagine something similar.

As for my "clicking" sesation, its nothing like a slipping sensation, i sometimes almost feel a small thud within my chest that causes the pain to ease rapidly. Its hard to describe, but like someone bursting a piece of bubble wrap inside you but your whole chest feels the sesation?

Im not sure something as serious as an internal growth could be to blame, but I suppose all theories are possible with their being next to no real answers to what it is causing the condition. I was always told at school that pain is your body telling your brain that something isnt nataural and needs to be stopped immediately, i.e, a burn/scald or a cut. The pain is there to teach us a lesson and comes from out primeval times. So when people get quite severe pain I dont understand how doctors will push it to one side just because we arent dropping dead from it? The first death (sorry to be so morbid guys) from this "syndrome" will most probably be blamed on a heart attack. I bet there are thousands of cases where young to middle aged guys (and girls, although less common) have been killed by a "heart attack", people who are heatly and young???

Thanks for the link to that other forum, I will join soon as there are no clues or topics to be read until you become a member!!

Luke (previously lukechad above)

Tim, definately sounds like the symptoms to me, they come on more so when you are at rest. Which would make perfect sense :)
[Last edited Jan 04, 2011 20:16:11]
gardenplant said Jan 04, 2011 20:23:21
Hi Tim,

Yes there's is a dull continual pain as you've said, sometimes it can switch to a sharp one with just a change of posture or movement of the arm (in some of my experiences).

My only concern is that you're experiencing this at 44 years old and so may not necessarily be PCS as it's symptoms are supposed to appear during adolescence.

For me it started when I was around 15. However I would add that I still have PCS at 30 years of age but it has gotten noticeably better the older I've got.

The encouraging thing is that you're fit. When it comes to the heart or any other important medical condition don't just take what you read on forums. ALWAYS get yourself checked by a doctor. You may have early symptoms of Angina but I don't want to alarm you so get yourself checked. Also try Co-enzyme Q10 (strong dose) as a daily supplement, it's sold over the counter at health stores and I find it really helps a lot. Also there's an amino acid called L-carnitine which is said to help with active Angina sufferers.

Hope all goes well with the doctors. All the best.

Login below to reply: