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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]
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57 replies
Monchichhi said Jul 03, 2015 00:55:10
Hi All,
I am so glad to find a group of people able to identify with what this pain feels like. I have been getting this pain for the last 20 years or so and I am now 42. Until 2 or 3 years ago it only lasted anywhere from a few seconds to about 10 mins and was relieved by a painful deep breath. I started googling it the other day as it lasted over 24 hours. That's when I found this site and was hugely relieved to see I'm not on my own.
This week the pain started out of the blue on Sunday evening and it is now Thursday evening and it hasn't gone yet!! On Monday I went to the out of hours doctor who was concerned enough to want me to go to casualty. I waited until Tuesday as I kept thinking I would be able to get the deep breath in and get rid of the pain. When this didn't happen I went up to the hospital and had blood tests, an E.C.G. and a chest x-ray. After ruling out cardiac risk, blood clots and anything else serious it was more or less take a painkiller and go home and rest. As the pain was still as bad today after 4 days I went to my G.P. He examined everywhere around my chest and when he pressed on the base of my sternum it was extremely painful. I hadn't noticed that being sore before as the pain I get breathing in is further over to the left just under my left breast and feels like being I'm being stabbed each time I breathe in. He feels the cause of the pain when breathing in is a referred pain travelling down a nerve to the point where I feel the pain. He explained that where my lower ribs meet my sternum is made of cartilage and that that is where the pain originates and that somehow there is some movement causing inflammation and pain. I have hypermobile joints and it may be causing the movement.
All of this is unclear and not any definite diagnosis but might fit with someone elses experience. Does anyone else have very flexible joints? Would this be anything to do with precordial catch syndrome?
AmyTennant said Aug 18, 2015 20:03:34
Me, too! Me, too! Started researching this when my DD started complaining about heart pains at around 10 years old. I shrugged it off and said it was gas, as that is what my mom always told me. I thought it was normal and everyone got these episodes. I mentioned something to DH one day and he looked at me like I had 2 heads. I had it as a child and it got less frequent over the years, though I had a bad one a couple of days ago when I was - can you guess? - really stressed out. I can't remember the last time I had an episode before that. Maybe once a year or so? They are far enough apart that I don't remember. My sister has it as well, and I assume my mother has it, too, as she was the one that always said it was gas. Not sure if my dad or brother has it. Is it more predominant in women? People with sleep apnea (whole family has sleep apnea)? Congestive heart failure or heart defect (sis has CHF).
StuartBlack said May 28, 2016 10:25:04
Hey folks! I think I've suffered with this since I was about 10ish also. I'm 40 now and for years it's not happened but it's starting again now. It's always a worry as its in the heart type region. Sometimes I've found it's almost as tho some1 has put a knife in my chest which blocks me getting any air intake. I find that if I take really really small sharp breaths although it hurts I get the popping feeling like you've all mentioned and the pain goes almost instantly. Does this sound familiar to you guys too?
Ryan Walker said Jul 12, 2016 18:20:22
I have had this same exact issue for years and at one point, over the duration of about a month, I would experience it multiple times per day for sometimes hours at a time! It was horrible. I understand that for different people the treatment may vary, but in my experience, reducing fat and sugar in my diet resolved the problem. Initially I totally removed fat from my diet for a day, and after this, worked on keeping my fat intake at or below the daily recommended value. This has totally removed the problem, and I have only rarely experienced the issue since then (I experience it on these rare occasions when I eat too much fat and sugar).
AmberleyHaggermaker said Nov 04, 2016 22:19:11
Hi, I am so glad that I found thisome! I have suffered from pcs since I was a young child. I am now 25 years old and still have attacks on and off. However, this last one has been going on for almost a week now. It's not as bad as usual. The pain. Is there but it's dull and won't go away no matter how I breathe or move. Whereas norally if I move a certain way there's a sort of pop and then relief. I also believe it is linked to stress and anxiety, which I have suffered from for years,along with deppression. I have yet to find anything to relieve the symptoms,except for moving or breathing a certain way. I am very active. My job requires it. I was very disappointed to find out therea no known causes or treatment.
AladyTaling said Nov 08, 2016 04:55:38
I'm experiencing this PCS pain RIGHT NOW as I type this. It's lasted for 9 hours. I'm scared to breathe in deeply because it hurts tremendously Any other suggestions to relieve this? I haven't had this in years and it used to pop in a few mins. Will it go away if I go to sleep? Well I guess I'll post back and let you know. I'm trying everything!
MarkBrewster said Feb 06, 2017 11:20:10
I get this pain and it can last seconds, minutes, hours.

The last time I successfully dealt with it was by breathing up to my limit, then gently sipping in air every few seconds and eventually it would fairly disappear without the stabbing 'pop'. But doing it takes nerve as it's very painful to get yourself to do it.
Jaidyn King said Feb 09, 2017 05:28:01
Hi guys
I haven't been diagnosed with PCS but I do get this annonying chest pain that I've had everyday now for the last three weeks.. It doesn't seem to make a clicking noise but never lasts longer than a few minutes and happens usually when I'm inactive so I'm in a way hopeful towards this. I walk daily and never seem to have any pain or breathing problems or difficulties walking or hiking the walk I take so idk if my problems got to do with my heart like agnina but I am going to have my heart checked for safe measures.. I just wanted to know if its normal to have this problem and not feel any clicking sensation or have it as a daily occurance
I'm an 18 yr old by the way so is it also the norm to get it at this age? This is a worrying problem for me so anyone who answers will receive my highest regards :) thanks
Kristian'Krusty'Robertshaw said Feb 23, 2017 20:09:45
'AloMr King. I am in the same boat as you. I have never had a popping, or cracking noise or sensation. The pain just seems to ease away after a while.
Kenneth Bryden said Aug 28, 2017 02:51:05

My daughter is 14 yrs old and very active, athletics and rugby. At the end of last year she was diagnosed with Precordial Catch Syndrome and told she should grow out of it. Recently she went through at least 4 months with no attack but during rugby camp in France she had a couple and taken to a hospital, looked over and released with same diagnosis. Last couple of weeks I've learned she's had more attacks and the frequency is increasing. Now she is experiencing numbness down the right arm and her hand is shaking involuntarily and has blacked out occasionally. Has anyone suffered these extra symptoms as I'm now extremely worried and I'm going to take her again to A n E. Could it be due to her starting 4th year and stressing as it'll be her Nat 5 exams this year, as I've read on this forum?
Any info would be greatly appreciated, thank you.
MichelleWatson said Nov 24, 2017 22:28:56

My 15 year old son is having these symptoms and has had them for the last year. He was a keen footballer but unfortunately has had to stop playing due to the severe pain he gets while playing, it literally stops him in his tracks and is sore to breathe. He continues to have a sore chest for a couple of hours after this too.

We haven't had a diagnosis as of yet but have taken him to A&E before. He's had ECG tests, lung capacity test, 24hr heart monitor on while exercising and all clear. Now waiting on an exercise test to check his oxygen flow.
Very frustrating for him as he's gone from being extremely sporty to very little. I was hunting the Internet to find some understanding on this condition when I came across this forum. It's the closest description to his pain I have found.
AlyBetter said Apr 11, 2018 10:33:16
I’m 38. I’ve been experiencing PCS for as long as I can remember, back to my teenage years. It was worst in my 20s and early 30s. Every attack was thankfully brief, apart from the one I’m having right now, which is going on 13 hours. I’m fit, I work out regularly, never had weight issues, quit smoking years ago. I don’t have any other heart or health problems. I am not stressed at all, my life is super relaxed. Just this PCS, if that’s what it is. I’ve self diagnosed.

It is rare that I have the popping or cracking. Just the pain when breathing, coucgimg, sneezing, etc. The attack I’m currently having came on when I bent down to wipe the floor. It’s a stabbing pain that causes me to breathe very shallow breaths and remain as still as possible.
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