Taking Migraine to Heart

Last updated: October 2018

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been having chest pain that sometimes radiates into my throat, neck, jaw, the back of my tongue and even my teeth. Almost everyone will recognize these as potential symptoms of a heart attack. So after it happened the first time I did what any nurse would do, I decided it was all nothing. I even thought that I might be turning into a hypochondriac looking for another diagnosis to add to my growing collection. When it happened the next day I did what I should have done the day before; I went to the emergency department. There I went through loads of tests as I had a very thorough doctor who apparently did not want me to leave the hospital and have a coronary on the way home. Everything was perfectly normal but he recommended that I see a cardiologist, which I did two days later. Because my symptoms sounded like angina, this doctor booked me for an angiogram, so less than a week later I was lying in a cardiac lab with a catheter wending it’s way up my arteries. The verdict? My arteries were “squeaky clean”.

What you may be asking, has all this got to do with migraine? The cardiologist told me that I may have a type of angina that does not involve plaque-lined major arteries but could result from vasospasm that narrows the arteries and deprives the heart of blood and may be linked to migraine (as if migraine pain and symptoms weren’t enough). A high percentage of people with the syndrome who also have migraine. Those with this condition will have angina pain, a clean angiogram with some specific abnormalities on a stress test. I don't know yet if I have CSX -more tests and appointments to follow.

I’d never heard about CSX and since I imagine that very few of you have either, I thought that it was a good idea to share this information. If you have chest pain, don’t do what I did at first, which is ignore it. “Better safe than sorry” applies here! If you are being investigated, I suggest you let the doctor know that you have migraine disease. If all your tests come up clear (yeah!) and you are still experiencing symptoms, you could ask that Cardiac Syndrome X be considered.

I’m not a practicing nurse and this information is only for your consideration, not for self-diagnosis. If you have chest pain, seek medical advice immediately.

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