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Health anxiety only about heart problems

bin_tenn

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I had typed a post about feeling anxious lately, but then I decided there was no need. But while typing it, it brought my attention to the fact that my health anxiety focuses entirely on heart problems. I've been through periods when I feared other things, but that hasn't been the case in several years.

How common is it for health anxiety to focus on a single problem or type of problem? It seems more common for health anxiety to jump from one problem to another sometimes, but I don't see why it can't also be focused on just one problem for some people.

When I experience periods of anxiety, it's often just general anxiety and not health related at all. Just run of the mill anxiety where my body is on high alert, caught in fight or flight mode. But whenever the anxious thoughts do focus on health, it's always about heart attack and related conditions. I no longer see or feel symptoms and think irrationally otherwise.

So now I want to figure out why exactly I focus so heavily on heart problems. And to accept that, as a human being, that risk is part of being alive. It is what it is. But again, why do I worry an abnormal amount about the stuff? I've never personally been diagnosed with any sort of serious heart condition, aside from AFib in 2016 - but the heart related anxiety was around long before then.

The family history of early heart disease and cardiac events is spotty at best, not consistent. And in most cases it's actually not "early" at all, not causing problems until close to 50 years old or older. Well over a decade from where I am now. And those family members all had/have serious risk factors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, fatty/greasy diet, etc. Things that I've either never had, or no longer have. The worst thing I do now might be an occasional alcoholic drink - usually no more than once a week.

What are some ways to get to the bottom of this sort of thing? How can I get closer to understanding why I worry like this about heart problems, despite having no apparent imminent risk factors?
 

bigjetplane23

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I think the reason the heart health anxiety is so big for some people is because the heart is literally what gives us life. What keeps us going. It’s the engine of our body. You can have healthy organs but if the heart fails, nothing else really matters.
So I can totally get why focusing on the heart can be such a stressor.
 

MATD

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Could it be that this is the very first health anxiety concern you had? And to what purpose will finding an answer serve? Will it alleviate your anxiety? Please consider these questions as a challenge to yourself. This “need to get answers” is just anxiety at work. I clearly recognize this in myself. But i know now that it is anxiety trying to zero in on yet another topic to fret about that will not serve any purpose in recovery. Fear is powerful, sly and cunning. It will attempt to drag us off into chasing answers to things that we think are important but actually serve no purpose. This is just part of what Jonathan describes as anxiety’s bag of tricks. And the bottom line here is simple, you still have work to do, learning how anxiety can steer us off focus on recovery. These experiences need to be acknowledged and recognized for what they are, just another illusion created by anxiety. I’ve mentioned many times how pervasive anxiety is, this is a prime example. I hope you don’t take offense to my reply, sharing what I am learning can hopefully benefit someone else.
 

bin_tenn

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Thank you both for the replies. I did read them. Just wanted to post an update that I did end up in the ER with an episode of frequent palpitations - like clockwork, every minute to two minutes. Not terribly anxiety provoking, but uncomfortable. This is just like that episode I had some months ago, or whenever it was. I posted about it here. I didn't see a doc last time though.

Doctor came in and we talked. She thinks I'm fine, in the sense that she doesn't believe the palpitations are anything more than PVCs. She's going to monitor for a bit to catch some and confirm that suspicion. She doesn't think labs are necessary. We're just waiting to confirm harmless PVCs, and then I guess I'll be on my way.

There does actually seem to be a pattern to these episodes. Doc and I agreed that it's very likely. So now I need to make some simple and quick lifestyle adjustments to confirm.
 

bin_tenn

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Will you be staying over night to be watched then?
No, just long enough to confirm that they're benign PVCs, which they basically already have. And at this point they've stopped completely, I haven't had one in a couple hours or so. They're getting discharge paperwork ready.

That visit also confirmed what I already knew, that it was benign and at least partly due to anxiety. Still, I feel better knowing I got it checked out. The fact that it practically stopped altogether once they got me hooked up and the doctor came in tells me that there was definitely a mental component to it. The symptoms were real, but they were exacerbated by feeling anxious about it. As soon as I was in a safe place and calmed down, it went away.

I'm home now, at 3am.
 
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E.B

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Glad all is well Bin, you know what's more humorous is for those like myself who for the most scale on biggest worry to least, heart conditions are on the least end for me. Strange how it all works individually.
 

MARCC

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I had a real scare Friday night at 10:30pm. I was folding laundry when suddenly my heart began to race like never before. I got my oximeter out and it read 98/140. I got dressed and went to the ER and my wife followed me. Luckily, I went as it was afib. I was in afib for 4 hours and finally my heart went back into sinus rhythm. They gave me Lorazepam and Metoprolol. I already take Propranolol 80mg LA. The cardiologist saw me in the hospital at around 9:45am and talked to me a bit and said afib is like the heart having a cold. He wants me to get an echocardiogram and wear a heart monitor patch for 2 weeks. He told me not to worry.
 

bin_tenn

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I had a real scare Friday night at 10:30pm. I was folding laundry when suddenly my heart began to race like never before. I got my oximeter out and it read 98/140. I got dressed and went to the ER and my wife followed me. Luckily, I went as it was afib. I was in afib for 4 hours and finally my heart went back into sinus rhythm. They gave me Lorazepam and Metoprolol. I already take Propranolol 80mg LA. The cardiologist saw me in the hospital at around 9:45am and talked to me a bit and said afib is like the heart having a cold. He wants me to get an echocardiogram and wear a heart monitor patch for 2 weeks. He told me not to worry.
Hey, Marcc, glad to hear you're well. I had an episode of AFib in 2016, and it was scary at first. But once I got to the hospital and they got me calmed down it was fine. That AFib episode felt worse than anything I've had before!
 

JustMe

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I just got done with my hospital visit for PVCs well I think that's what they are. I have the heart patch on for 2 weeks but that's what I've had forever and last time they caught a run of SVT aftwr covid which they say is benign because it comes from the top of the heart not the bottom (whatever that means). I'm still scared though. I've been in and out of the hospitals and heart dr.s since I was in my late teens. I go through years where I'll be fine then bam they get me from nowhere and scare me all over again. The heart has always been my biggest trigger/fear and I have no idea why either. I remember episodes where I was having PVCs every few beats and when I would get hooked up at the hospital they would all of a sudden stop. I don't have any answers really but just wanted you to know I'm the same with my heart.
 

bin_tenn

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I just got done with my hospital visit for PVCs well I think that's what they are. I have the heart patch on for 2 weeks but that's what I've had forever and last time they caught a run of SVT aftwr covid which they say is benign because it comes from the top of the heart not the bottom (whatever that means). I'm still scared though. I've been in and out of the hospitals and heart dr.s since I was in my late teens. I go through years where I'll be fine then bam they get me from nowhere and scare me all over again. The heart has always been my biggest trigger/fear and I have no idea why either. I remember episodes where I was having PVCs every few beats and when I would get hooked up at the hospital they would all of a sudden stop. I don't have any answers really but just wanted you to know I'm the same with my heart.
Thank you for sharing. I already know I'm not alone, but it's still nice to hear it sometimes. It's a good reminder. Sorry you've been dealing with this stuff for so long, and recently.

The ER doctor last night suggested that I ask my primary doc about a holter monitor, but she was not really concerned. I understand why she wasn't though. The visit was helpful not only to calm the anxiety in the moment, but it also helped me to identify a likely pattern / root cause. Knowing patterns can help in the future when the episodes happen.

How are you doing tonight?
 

suzzeeb

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Have had the same fear since my teens, which is when I first started having PVCs. Then in my 20s and 30s would have months of nonstop PVCs that caused so much anxiety/depression. Now, late 50s have had ablation for thousands a day which took care of them but now have thousands of PACs a day which feel pretty much the same but they won't do ablation for those, so I struggle through most days. They don't seem overly concerned and think they are due to anxiety, but I don't believe that. On my calmest days I have them, and they never really let up much. Pretty miserable actually. I totally get the heart fears.
 

bin_tenn

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Have had the same fear since my teens, which is when I first started having PVCs. Then in my 20s and 30s would have months of nonstop PVCs that caused so much anxiety/depression. Now, late 50s have had ablation for thousands a day which took care of them but now have thousands of PACs a day which feel pretty much the same but they won't do ablation for those, so I struggle through most days. They don't seem overly concerned and think they are due to anxiety, but I don't believe that. On my calmest days I have them, and they never really let up much. Pretty miserable actually. I totally get the heart fears.
Aw I'm sorry you deal with that. Unfortunately that's not too uncommon, at least from what I've read online before. I suppose I can be glad mine aren't that bad, and I hope they never are.

They do cause some residual anxiety, as today I'm feeling a bit nervous in general. I don't feel like I'm worried specifically about palpitations or the ER visit, but I'm assuming it's linked somehow. This afternoon I'm feeling a bit lightheaded, which is all too familiar for me with anxiety episodes. But it will pass, I know.
 

JustMe

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Thank you for sharing. I already know I'm not alone, but it's still nice to hear it sometimes. It's a good reminder. Sorry you've been dealing with this stuff for so long, and recently.

The ER doctor last night suggested that I ask my primary doc about a holter monitor, but she was not really concerned. I understand why she wasn't though. The visit was helpful not only to calm the anxiety in the moment, but it also helped me to identify a likely pattern / root cause. Knowing patterns can help in the future when the episodes happen.

How are you doing tonight?
I'm doing much better. I have another week with this monitor on. I'm just trying to keep my mind focused on other things and get through this rough patch.
For patterns or causes, I personally, can't detect a problem mentally. Now physically, when I'm sick or about to get sick I'll get more PVCs and I've always been like that. Seems like after covid though instead of just a PVC here and there I get them bunched together or PVCs mixed with PACs and then that triggers my anxiety.
It's mostly physical triggering mental for me. Also, if I haven't slept good or I am really stressed I'll notice an uptick in heart stuff.
I was in a heart group on fb (but it became too much for me) a lot of the people on there are super worse off and it seems like it's hormones or just electrical misfires. It was nice to see how they cope and are so chill about it but it was overloading me with everything else that "could" happen so I had to leave the group. It was causing too many what ifs.
 

JustMe

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How are you doing? Did you end up getting a Holter monitor?
 

bin_tenn

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I'm doing much better. I have another week with this monitor on. I'm just trying to keep my mind focused on other things and get through this rough patch.
For patterns or causes, I personally, can't detect a problem mentally. Now physically, when I'm sick or about to get sick I'll get more PVCs and I've always been like that. Seems like after covid though instead of just a PVC here and there I get them bunched together or PVCs mixed with PACs and then that triggers my anxiety.
It's mostly physical triggering mental for me. Also, if I haven't slept good or I am really stressed I'll notice an uptick in heart stuff.
I was in a heart group on fb (but it became too much for me) a lot of the people on there are super worse off and it seems like it's hormones or just electrical misfires. It was nice to see how they cope and are so chill about it but it was overloading me with everything else that "could" happen so I had to leave the group. It was causing too many what ifs.
I'm glad things are going better for you. Fingers crossed that trend continues. Being sick is known to exacerbate or cause palpitations, I've heard, and that's true for me as well. It's interesting you mention COVID and a subsequent change in how your palpitations present. I don't recall having these types of episodes until I had COVID in January 2022. I'd have runs of them, but never as frequently as one or two consistently per minute. I also notice I'm more prone to them when I haven't slept well or enough.

I stay away from groups like that. Not necessarily worried about it triggering my anxiety, but honestly I have no business worrying about what everyone else is dealing with. Being an anxious person, I'd be prone to comparing myself to them, and that's not healthy either.

How are you doing? Did you end up getting a Holter monitor?
I'm doing well tonight. No, the hospital didn't put me on a holter monitor, but they said I could ask my primary for one. I did that in 2015 and the doc only saw benign PVCs. I really don't think it's necessary this time around. Especially because these episodes are few and far between, so it most likely wouldn't catch this specific scenario anyhow.
 

Sweet T

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Heart issues are so tough because palpitations etc are hard to ignore.
 

bin_tenn

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Heart issues are so tough because palpitations etc are hard to ignore.
They certainly are for people such as us, huh? I can still remember many years ago when I was like the average person and had practically zero awareness of my own heartbeat. I have no idea at all how or why that changed, but I know it basically happened overnight. Weird.
 

JustMe83

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I had typed a post about feeling anxious lately, but then I decided there was no need. But while typing it, it brought my attention to the fact that my health anxiety focuses entirely on heart problems. I've been through periods when I feared other things, but that hasn't been the case in several years.

How common is it for health anxiety to focus on a single problem or type of problem? It seems more common for health anxiety to jump from one problem to another sometimes, but I don't see why it can't also be focused on just one problem for some people.

When I experience periods of anxiety, it's often just general anxiety and not health related at all. Just run of the mill anxiety where my body is on high alert, caught in fight or flight mode. But whenever the anxious thoughts do focus on health, it's always about heart attack and related conditions. I no longer see or feel symptoms and think irrationally otherwise.

So now I want to figure out why exactly I focus so heavily on heart problems. And to accept that, as a human being, that risk is part of being alive. It is what it is. But again, why do I worry an abnormal amount about the stuff? I've never personally been diagnosed with any sort of serious heart condition, aside from AFib in 2016 - but the heart related anxiety was around long before then.

The family history of early heart disease and cardiac events is spotty at best, not consistent. And in most cases it's actually not "early" at all, not causing problems until close to 50 years old or older. Well over a decade from where I am now. And those family members all had/have serious risk factors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, fatty/greasy diet, etc. Things that I've either never had, or no longer have. The worst thing I do now might be an occasional alcoholic drink - usually no more than once a week.

What are some ways to get to the bottom of this sort of thing? How can I get closer to understanding why I worry like this about heart problems, despite having no apparent imminent risk factors?
I know how you feel. Fear of heart failure is what led me to this website. I’ve had issues with my heart beating faster than usual when I’m resting. I’ve been so scared that I can’t even sleep and keep checking my heart rate every 30 minutes. I’m barely eating too. I think that going to the ER for rapid heart beat the other day gave me PTSD. I almost passed out that day and now every time I do anything I feel like I’ll pass out. I completely understand you.
 
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