Is there a connection between blunt chest trauma and heart problems?

7 answers | Last updated: Oct 30, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I had a bicycle car accident. I went over the hood and landed on my back on the opposite side of the car. My back pack probably saved my life. It moved up and my head never hit the concrete. I suffered seven broken ribs, a broken clavicle and scapula. I now have developed congestive heart failure and arrhythmia and have a leaking left ventricular. I see some information on a connection between blunt chest trauma and these diagnosed problems. Any information would be helpful please.


Expert Answers

Carolyn Strimike, N.P. and Margie Latrella, N.P. are cardiac nurse practitioners specializing in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. They have over 40 years of nursing experience in Cardiology between them. The main goal of their work is to counsel, motivate and empower women to adopt healthy lifestyle choices.

First of all glad to hear you did not experience any head or spine trauma after your accident. Heart problems after blunt chest trauma are common especially when broken ribs are involved. The heart lies very close to the rib cage and an injury to the chest wall can lead to heart damage. The heart muscle can become "stunned" and weakened after a traumatic injury to the chest wall, the weakened heart muscle is what causes the congestive heart failure. Sometimes the heart muscle is able to recover over time and the heart muscle may get stronger as it heals this could take several months. It is important to follow-up regularly with a cardiologist who can monitor the strength of the heart muscle. Blunt chest trauma can also cause irregular heart rhythms or arrythmias due to trauma and swelling of the heart muscle. As the heart muscle recovers and the swelling of the heart decreases some arrythmias may improve so you should also have this closely monitored by your cardiologist. The leaking left ventricular you mentioned is probably from trauma to one of the heart valves. An echocardiogram which is an ultrasound of the heart can help your doctors determine the strength of the heart muscle and monitor the heart valve function and possible recovery.


Community Answers

Ladybug1955 answered...

Wow, exactly what happened to my husband, except he was on a motorcycle but thankfully was wearing a helmet. He did fly over the front of the bike causing severe trauma to his lungs as well. After 11 fractured vertebrae, and 7 fractured ribs and a body brace for 4 months he ended up with CHF and then discovered he has idio cardiomyopothy grade 4, end stage!!!! Please, do not wait to see how it goes, follow everything closely and hopefully the heart muscle can repair itself, somewhat. My Hubby's has been wiped out and from this he spends 80% of his time resting. 1/10 of a second has changed his life and the neglect of the young driver that caused this. Good Luck and hope you can conquer this. Also, my husband now has an ICD which seems to pace the heart a little better.


Innate 1 answered...

Had chest trauma in snowmobile / tree accident myself at 47 years of age. Hit a tree and caught fist between tree and chest fracturing metacarpals and a bunch of ribs. If you've ever broken ribs, you know it's difficult to breathe. But I recall shortness of breath for months after, even after the 8 ribs healed. Running time around my normal 2 mile course was much slower, not simply from deconditioning, but I felt out of breath in my normal workout. Beginning about 2 years later, I had a life insurance bp check which alerted me to diastolic bp being high. It has been around 90 since then (systole is still 135 or so) when it was lifelong in the 70s. I haven't had US yet but on my list of things to do. Just thought I'd help the folks here with that piece of information. There's little on the net about physical trauma to the heart but makes sense to me that chordae tendinae (the 'string' attachments) of valves could be damaged, the valve leaves themselves or the muscle tissue could become scarred. So, it doesn't kill you immediately, but ll leaving it less economically fit to move blood and putting you in the path of future CHF.


Arango368 answered...

I am a 21 year old male who suffered a Cardiac contusion on March 2011. I am a college baseball player and was struck in the chest with a baseball clocked around 95MPH. I lived through two years without much discomfort, occasionally I felt palpitations and and a fast heart rate. Ever since January of 2013 I have been having many issues with my heart. I have had many episodes of Tachycardia(fast heart rate reaching 170 BPM, shortness of breath. pain on my breast bone right where I was hit, head numbness and occasionally I have a high Blood Pressure. At first the doctors thought I was crazy because they wouldn't catch an episode. Then one day I went to the emergency room and they finally saw on a heart monitor my heart rate start to escalate for no apparent reason. To make the story short I have been diagnosed with Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia. I have done just about every test there is to see any abnormalities with my heart and everything has come back normal. I am taking Metroprolol Titrate 50 mg. It has helped me to to an extent but I still have periods where I get shortness of breath especially in this heat wave in NY. I am no longer able to workout the way I used because my heart rate goes way too high and feels like its skipping beats. I am going to forgo playing my senior year of college baseball because of this. I hope one day there is more research done on what happens to the heart after Blunt Chest Trauma so that I can get some relief. Thanks for reading and feel free to ask me any questions or comment.


Typeface.stace answered...

I was kicked in the chest and had a contusion on my heart. Since then I have had a few episodes where I feel like I have cramping between where my rib cage splits and moves up to my heart. It cramps so bad I can't breathe and my chest feels tight. These attacks usually last for about 20-30 mins. I have never been able to get to the ER for it to be captured but my ekg's the next day are just fine. Days after the attacks, my heart feels like its on edge all day (the feeling you get when you are watching a scary movie or you're really nervous) and I'm mentally and physically drained for days afterwards. I'm still looking for answers....


Dr. roth answered...

I have developed a gentle form of therapy that has been investigated by a Harvard researcher, to be helpful in the treatment of a number of cardiac disorders associated with structural injury. For more information, check: www.matrixrepatterning.com

Dr. George Roth


Lisa0585 answered...

I was in a car accident, I had cardiac and pulmonary contusions, fractured sternum along with almost every rib, cardiac tamponade 2x and countless pleural effusions.... The list goes on and on ...my point being trauma to the chest obviously can cause a cute complications but five years later I still have recurrences of pericarditis, which is an inflammation of your pericardium, the sac that surrounds your heart. It took two years of begging the er doctors to help before I was even properly diagnosed, even then they didn't know how to treat me.... I doubt that this is the only incidence of trauma induced recurrent pericarditis, I bet a lot of others are easily dismissed and laughed off like they were crazy like me. Ask questions, read your medical records and learn what biomarkers to watch and ask for, in my case... ESR and crp. They are markers of inflamation. A SA node on an EKG, can only say so much.