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Fatty Foods = Chest Pain?


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BuddyMC Find out more about BuddyMC
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  • Fatty Foods = Chest Pain?

    Hi Everyone. My boyfriend suffers from HCM. He is now 22 years old and was first diagnosed at the age of 18. His sister died suddenly from it and after that they implanted an ICD just in case. He is not on any medication. But my question is...he often gets chest pains and is out of breath when doing simple things. He tells me thats normal and I'm sure it is. However, whenever he eats he gets intense chest pains afterwards. Its even worse if that food is high in fat like sausages, burgers, etc. I'm a little concerned about it and wanted to know if anyone has experienced that before? Is it normal? Thanks so much.

  • #2
    Re: Fatty Foods = Chest Pain?


    I'm not so sure that it is the fatty foods per se. My son is 10 years old with HCM and we've dealt with palpitations after he has a big meal. For example, if we're at a restaurant and he eats appetizers, main course, then dessert, he will inevitably get palpitations that last for a while. I'm not quite sure what causes this reaction other than perhaps over-eating taxes the body.

    What we've learned to do with him is he shares an appetizer with someone, takes 1/2 of his main course in a doggie bag home if he intends to have dessert. It works for us.

    He should, however, tell his doctor about his chest pains regardless of when they happen. Good luck.
    Millie Acosta
    Bear, DE


    • #3
      Re: Fatty Foods = Chest Pain?


      For many of us with HCM our symptoms worsen after eating, particularly after eating large meals. But not commonly to the point of "intense pain" & I agree he should discuss that with his HCM doctor. My understanding of why this happens has to do with the stomach's position in the upper left abdomen; when full it enlarges and crowds the heart. That may reduce the heart's space slightly & may constrict the left ventricle. With HCM anything which compromises the function of the left ventricle can lead to those symptoms of shortness of breath, chest discomfort, and dizziness.

      I think that high fat meals are worse for me than simply high bulk meals--I suspect that is because high fat meals stay in the stomach much longer than lower fat meals. As many here have reported, I have learned to eat small meals. I do best when I get it to six daily--seems like I'm almost constantly munching! But my stomach's never distended.

      Chest pains, by the way, are a signal that the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen. The cardiologists I've been to have used medications to eliminate that symptom so we know the muscle isn't being damaged. One specialist told me it was okay that I experienced chest "tightness," but not "pain." It seems a fine distinction until it has happened--I have no difficulty now telling whether what I'm having is pain or tightness! So if your boyfriend's having pain periodically, I'd say he should discuss that with the doc, too.



      • #4
        Re: Fatty Foods = Chest Pain?

        While everyone made good points, there is another possiblity that he needs to rule out: acid reflux (heart burn) and some forms of indigestion cause chest pains, especially ones that feel like burning.

        Spices, tomato, peppers, and onions are big reflux triggers --all of which are often in burgers and saugages. Other triggers are caffiene, alcohol, peppermint, chocolate, citrus fruit, soda pop, and coffee (including decaf). Personally, if I ate a big ole burger with all the trimmings and a giant soda, I'd probably implode.

        BF should keep a log of what he eats and what happens afterwards. He should also NOT for the last three hours before he goes to bed.

        Here is a site about reflux: http://www.gerd.e-medicinehealth.com/gastric-reflux.htm

        As for shortness of breath and chest pains after mild exertion, he should see his cardiologist and consider some medication. The ICD is not a treatment for day to day living --it is an emergency room in your chest.

        take care



        • #5
          Re: Fatty Foods = Chest Pain?

          Well thank you to all who replied. It was definitely helpful information. I asked my boyfriend about it again and he said that it is more tightness than pain. His next doctors appt. isn't until Sept. but he promises to discuss that issue with him! I'm not a doctor but I think if he was on meds it would help his day to day symptoms of shortness of breath, etc. He says its because he's out of shape but I think its a little bit of both. Also, he does have regular heart burn, that is also a condition of many in his family who have it constantly. So after he eats he deals with tightness and heart burn...sounds like fun! Thanks for easing my mind and letting me know that it happens to others as well.


          • #6
            Re: Fatty Foods = Chest Pain?

            HCM is a catch-22 --you are out of shape b/c you can't get into shape b/c it overworkes your heart. BF should consider working more on reducing symptoms than on working out.

            take care,



            • #7
              Re: Fatty Foods = Chest Pain?

              Hi BuddyMC.
              I discovered that high carb meals were even worse for me than high fat meals. Eating smaller meals more often seems to help the symptoms a lot. Best of luck to you and your boyfriend.
              God Squad co-moderator
              Nothing is as gentle as strength and nothing is as strong as gentleness


              • #8
                Re: Fatty Foods = Chest Pain?

                I also found that high carb meals made me feel bad. I went on the low-carb Atkins diet a couple of years ago and was really surprised to find that I felt great and that some of my HCM-related symptoms improved. I now do a sort of self-modified Atkins diet that allows for some additional carbs, and I do a vitamin supplement to make sure I get enough calcium, etc.

                Cholesterol went DOWN 100 points. Blood sugar went way down too.

                Thanksgiving was always the worst meal of the year for me which I used to think was just a result of overeating. Now I think it was the carbs -- all those mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, bread make that meal into a carbohydrate nightmare.



                • #9
                  Re: Fatty Foods = Chest Pain?

                  1. your a great girlfriend for taking the time to check on your boyfriends health!
                  2. I would suggest your boyfriend call the doctor now and discuss his issues with eating - it is likley due to his HCM but may be something else.
                  3. Yes I agree meds are something I would concider at this point. His heart needs to rest and the meds will help it rest.
                  Be well,
                  Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
                  YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

                  Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
                  lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
                  Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
                  Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
                  Currently not obstructed
                  Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)