How Common are Heart Problems in Teens?

Published: March 01, 2018
Dear TeenHealthFX,

How common are heart problems in teens? Lately when i go to bed Ive been feeling pain on the left side of my chest and sometimes my left arm and i can hear my heartbeat in my ear and feel it in my back. Sometimes if it goes on too much ill see like stars and feel a little tingly and faint. The when i can finally get my heart to stop pounding so much and start falling asleep something will happen when it gets dark and things start shaking and it feel tingly again and because of it i barely get any sleep.I told my father about it but he says its just stress and its all in my mind but im terrified that its more than that and that one of these days im gonna fall asleep and not wake up due to heart failure or something. What should I do, Im afraid to go to sleep every night now because this doesn't really affect me during the day.I am overweight and used to smoke but i just quit and I want to start working out I just am afraid it will be too much for my heart. My usual heart rate is 84bpm and im 17.

Signed: How Common are Heart Problems in Teens?

Dear How Common are Heart Problems in Teens?,

The heart rate that you reported is considered healthy. However, the recurrent symptoms you described may indicate an anxiety disorder. Panic attack symptoms can include, yet are not limited to: pounding heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, and/or tingling feelings caused by overactivity of the body's normal fear response.  

Being that TeenHealthFX cannot conduct a proper diagnosis over the internet, we suggest scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician so he/she can conduct a proper examination. This is also a great time to ask any questions you may have regarding smoking habits and weight loss.  

You also described difficulty when speaking to your father about this issue. FX suggests identifying a trusted adult, such as a coach, teacher or school therapist who can speak to about the symptoms you have been experiencing. Reaching out to a trusted adult as such will allow you to get the help you need, so you do not have to deal with this situation alone. 

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. A Planned Parenthood health center is a good option if you have concerns about cost or confidentiality issues. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.   

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area. 

FX recommends browsing the following resources for additional information:

Anxiety Disorders 

Weight Management


Signed: TeenHealthFX