ZocdocAnswersIs this heart disease?

Question

Is this heart disease?

I am usually sedentary except for periods of several weeks when I walk the treadmill 30 mins per day. I begin to feel chest pressure when sedentary after a couple of months. It then diminishes slowly and goes completely away after a couple of weeks of treadmill use. I am 55, woman, and been 20 lbs overweight past 10 years only.

Answer

I am sorry you are experiencing these symptoms. I strongly encourage you to see your primary care physician to help determine if this is due to a serious condition, as I cannot definitely rule out coronary artery disease without an in-person evaluation. In general, chest pain due to blockages of the coronary arteries, known as coronary artery disease, is left-sided and occasionally radiates to the arm, back, or jaw. It typically occurs with exertion, although it can occur at rest with severe disease. Patients often also experience shortness of breath, nausea, and cold sweats. It is important to note, however, that coronary artery disease can sometimes present atypically. Several studies have shown that women do not experience usual symptoms. Overall, coronary artery disease is unlikely to explain your recurrent periods of sedentary pain that improve with exertion. It is more likely the increased weight and de-conditioning alone cause your symptoms. However, your sedentary lifestyle and elevated weight increase your risk of cardiac disease, and I recommend you see your primary care physician to discuss this further. A typical evaluation consists of a thorough history, physical exam, and EKG. Depending on these results, you may need to undergo a stress test, which typically involves exercising on a treadmill followed by an EKG, echocardiogram, or nuclear heart study.

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

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