ZocdocAnswersCan young women have angina?

Question

Can young women have angina?

sometimes feel like i cant take a deep enough breath,doesnt hurt though, also i get this extreme pressure in the center of my chest like someone is pushing out hard from the inside. i began exercising about 7 weeks ago and when i get into my workout, my chest starts hurting hard to describe it but sometimes it goes into my neck and/or near my shoulder below my collar bone. when it does it hurts worse in my neck/shoulder than my chest and it will taper off after a few minutes. i have never been diagnosed with anything, i had an echo about 9 months ago because of chest pain when i was pregnant, and i asked the tech if i had MVP,but the tech said it didn't look like MVP but she saw what someone would think was MVP. the doctor never mentioned it though. what are the chances i have a heart problem? and what could she have seen that could have looked like MVP but wasnt?

Answer

Angina is the term we use to describe chest pain that is due to poor blood flow to the heart tissue. It is usually caused by blockages in coronary arteries, but can also be caused by arterial spasm (abnormal contraction of the blood vessel), and by use of drugs such as cocaine. Physicians take every report of chest pain very seriously because of the possibility that it is caused by poor blood flow to the heart. Your chest pain sounds somewhat like angina, but would be very unusual in a young women (assuming you are younger than 40). Women tend to get these problems after menopause. Women that get blockages at a younger age typically have very strong family histories of heart disease with close relatives that had heart attacks at young ages. Mitral valve prolaps (MVP) is a very common cause of intermittent chest discomfort in young women. Of the two possibilities, MVP is more likely. I think your initial assessment should be handled by your primary care physician. He or she can listen to a more detailed account of your symptoms and decide what the likelihood is that you are experiencing angina. If your doctor is at all worried, then he or she will likely have you get a stress test. Good luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.