PICC Line Problem or Heartburn Arrgh!

Hi Ladies

I wonder if anyone can help me out here. For nearly 5 weeks I have been having problems with my chest - especially the sternum part. It feels like someone has put a football in my chest and they are inflating it - the pressure is awful and it feels as though my ribcage is going to explode. I have told the chemo unit countless times, they xrayed and said I was severely constipated - that problem has now been resolved, but the chest pain / pressure continues on a daily basis - 24 hours a day. I have tried all kinds of antacids; zantac, gaviscon, gaviscon advance, rennies, milk of magnesia etc - to no avail. I am also taking 60mg of lansoprazole a day - again no help. I am eating a very plain diet, little and often - again its making no difference. The hospital have said the steroids have caused inflammation of the stomach and the oesophagus (sp?) but to me if feels like there is something else going on in there - or is that my paranoia?

It struck me this morning that I wonder if it could be my PICC line causing these problems. I am very tall (6ft) and the nurse that put it in said she had used almost the entire length of the line - I wonder if it has either a) moved slighly or b) is causing an irritation in my chest? Surely they would have thought of this possibility though, wouldn’t they?

Its making life almost unbearable as I have to continually lie down or lay back to try and alleviate the feeling of discomfort. It leaves me breathless when I walk any distance (especially upstairs) and I have also started coughing quite a bit.

Has anyone else had these symptoms - am I getting my knickers in a twist over a normal reaction? I hate to disturb the nurses, I have called a few times over the weeks and dont want them thinking I am whinger.

Thank you for any advice or suggestions

Debbie xx

Hi Debbie

Sorry to hear your having some problems, have you given the helpline here a ring? If not give them a call they may be able to suggest something to help, they’re here to support you through all this.

Lines are open now until 5pm tonight. Take care,
Jo, Facilitator

Hi Jo

Thank you for replying so quickly. Yes, I did call the helpline on friday and spoke to a lovely lady. However, this was to ask if she knew any reasons why I shouldn’t take Aloe Vera for what, at the time i thought was heartburn/indigestion, though now I am wondering if its something quite different and caused by the PICC - I will give them another ring, just don’t like to be a nuisance.

Thank you

Debbie x


You’re not being a nuisance, that’s what the helpline is here for.
Hope you get it sorted soon.

Jo, Facilitator

I’m sorry to hear you’re still having problems. If it’s heartburn, then 60mg lanzoprazole may not be enough to keep it at bay. When I have bad phases I need to take domperidone maximum dose 4 times a day in addition. This can be prescribed and is very effective whereas something like aloe vera has not been so well researched and therefore we don’t know its efficacy or dangers.

The PICC line - don’t know much about that but sounds like that’s definitely worth getting checked too.

It might be helpful for the docs if you could write down your symptoms in detail e.g when you have the pain and is it worse at any times, what type of pain it is and exactly where you have it.
When my reflux is really bad I get terrible pain in my back/shoulder area as well as in the sternum area and I also feel very sick.

As much detail as possible might help them to work out the cause.

Really hope you get this resolved soon.
Elinda x

I currently have a PICC line and have really never had problems with heartburn before…on rare occasion that I get it, I immediatley drink some water and avoid it.

Since getting the PICC line in January 2014, I’ve been having the heartburn that you’ve described…

It goes right through to my back and my sternum and I just can’t get comfortable no matter what position I’m in.

Tried Tums…last night I had the heartburn 3 times, all in the evening.  Tums seemed to work the first time so I self-ruled out a heart attack. (BTW I’m 48)  The other 2 times I just prayed.  It was so very uncomfortable.


I too thought it might be the PICC line.  I’m only 5’1" but when it was inserted my heartbeat was fluttering.  The Dr pulled it back a bit then the xry showed good position.  BUTT I notice that when I lay on my left side, the side the line is on, sometimes my heart starts fluttering again. I switch positions to get it to stop.


So back to the heartburn…I’m thinking it’s being caused by the PICC line but will have to ask the Dr about it.


Hi Katz - very interested to hear of your problems with your PICC line and heart flutterings. I had my PICC line put in on Friday and immediately had heart flutterings. I had my first FEC session straight afterwards. Felt fine until evening when had pains in my head, face and teeth, legs and hips. Yesterday I didn’t feel too bad - pains had stopped but i had heartburn and burping like a trooper! Last night, every time i tried to lie on my left side, my heart just started jumping - took my pulse and could feel heart stopping and jumping - scary! When i lay on my back or on my r.h side, heart went back to normal… Bad day today (3rd day) - heartburn really kicked in and making me feel queezy. Taken my anti sickness and also Rennies (which seem to help but only for a short while). Has anyone else suffered similar symptoms and any good tips?
Good luck Katz with rest of your treatment - hopefully we can both sort out the heart flutterings :))