Do you ever experience random and alarming sharp pains in your chest? Because of relatively high awareness to heart conditions, such an occurrence might trigger a great deal of anxiety, but not all chest pain- unpleasant though it may be- should be the cause of concern.
Precordial Catch Syndrome (or PCS) is fairly common among children and adolescents, but sometimes persists throughout adulthood, and is characterized by random short-lasting pain attacks in a highly localized area in the chest. Though the pain is often felt on the left side of the chest, it sometimes occurs on the right side as well, definitely ruling out a heart attack.
In fact, PCS has nothing to do with the heart, at all. Though the syndrome is not fully understood, it is believed that PCS is triggered by a pinching or irritation of nerves in the chest cavity in front of the heart.
What are some of its symptoms and how can you tell PCS apart from serious heart conditions?
• PCS typically lasts a couple of seconds or minutes.
• The pain does not radiate to any extremity or the neck and remains localized to a relatively small spot in the chest.
• The pain typically occurs over the heart, but may also target the right side of the chest.
• The pain is triggered and exacerbated by sharp movement.
• Deep breaths also make the pain worse.
• There are no additional symptoms beyond pain and shallow breathing. Sweat, abdominal pain, nausea and other symptoms typical of heart attack do not occur with PCS.
• Shallow breathing can, however, cause dizziness and blurred vision.
Though uncomfortable to say the least, PCS is ultimately harmless, with attacks lasting mere moments and having no long-term impact on health. There is no known cure for this inconvenient syndrome, but it is very rare for people to suffer from PCS for the entirety of their lives, and in most cases, attacks subside altogether, never to return.