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Heart Skipping Beats

ThankfulJen

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So, I guess I will begin with some history. I am newly 43, slightly overweight, and trying to quit smoking. I have dealt with major anxiety since I was around 32 years old. General anxiety, since I was 19. I go through major episodes and then a year or two of relief. The worst that I dealt with was when I was about 34 and was averaging the doctors office twice a week, thinking I had some horrible desease. Unable to eat or drink. Unable to sleep. I never thought I would get through it. But I did.
Fast forward to today or rather these past 5 years. 5 years ago I started experiencing heart palps although most people would say that is a racing heart so more accurately an irregular heartbeat. And I mean continuous as in 3 days at a time nonstop. I went to the doctor and she said everything seemed fine and as we get older these things tend to happen but she did all the tests, blood work, ultrasound, xray, EKG, to give me peace of mind. Everything came back normal. They finally went away. They do tend to come back when I have very stressful days, when I have lack of sleep, or when I take a hit off of a primatene inhaler.
These last two months my anxiety has reared its ugly head with my mother moving to another town, sickness in the family, and my husband losing his job. I have been waking up here and there with a racing heart and this seems new although maybe I just never noticed before. As you know, our anxiety makes us super focused on physical happenings much more than normal. My irregular heartbeat has reared its ugly head again. I can't seem to convince myself that this is nothing new. Instead my head says this is different or rather the anxiety. I went to the doctor again. A new one and she said she was sure it was anxiety and prescribed me Buspir 15 MG for morning and evening. Also a beta blocker to take once a day. The beats got more regular and was only feeling a hiccup here and there. Then, a week later, back again and after two days of non stop skipped beats Dr. Google convinced me I needed to go to the emergency room as I was in danger of a stroke. The emergency doctor was kind and proactive. He had me on an EKG. He took my blood. He did an xray. He told me my bloodwork was great. My heart looked great. My lungs looked great. He told me if things got worse to come back and he would get me taken care of. But the irregular heartbeats kept going and all I could think was I should have told him irregular heartbeats instead of palpitations. A week later and they seem to come and go. Sometimes they happen after I eat. Sometimes they just show up out of nowhere. Sometimes I have a whole day without them. I haven't had any major anxiety since the emergency room visit. But the voice in the back of my mind says if this goes on I will surely die. I don't currently have insurance. I can't get on medicaid because of my husband's unemployment. Can anyone relate or does anyone have any advice? Could this be hormonal? Does anyone have any suggestions? I should also add that I have started taking magnesium which seems to have calmed them but not completely eliminated them. I can feel them fluttering in my chest as I write this.. woke up with them today and it is such an uneasy feeling.. I am desperate for any support or advice. Thank you!!
 

bin_tenn

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I go through periods of time when I experience palpitations quite frequently, yes. Sometimes for days on end. That was particularly true some time ago when my anxiety was at its worst, overall. Stress and anxiety can indeed trigger the skipped/extra beats. It is uncomfortable, but it doesn't mean anything is wrong and/or needs medical attention.

In case you don't know, it can actually be very normal for a person to experience up to a certain percentage of skipped/extra beats compared to regular beats. I don't recall the exact number, but it's actually surprisingly high. My own cardiologist told me this, as did a cardiologist a friend of mine saw a while back. She was having very frequent palpitations along with some other symptoms, but she checked out fine. She just takes a beta blocker, I think.

What beta blocker do you take? I started Atenolol 25mg once a day in July 2015. I'm still on it today, same dose, and it's worked wonders for me. I do still have bouts of these palpitations, but not like I used to.

Google convinced you that you're at risk of stroke? That's because an arrhythmia (e.g. atrial fibrillation) does indeed come with risk of stroke if not properly managed/treated. Conditions such as afib mean the heart is not pumping blood properly, thus increasing risk of blood clots and such, which leads to heart attack and stroke risk. "Normal" palpitations, as far as I know, do NOT carry this risk, because they are not the same as afib / other arrhythmias.

I've actually had an atrial fibrillation episode before, specifically afib with RVR (rapid ventricular rate). That was in 2016, when I was 29 years old (34 now). I don't have chronic afib, it was a result of some other circumstances that just threw my rhythm off and it couldn't correct itself. What did it feel like? It actually did not feel normal. I KNEW without a doubt that something was wrong. It wasn't just some skipped/extra beats. The best way I can describe it is, it felt like one long constant palpitation - that sensation of skipping in the chest, without stopping at all. I went to the hospital, was admitted, stayed for roughly 12 hours, and I've been fine since. Subsequent echo and stress test showed nothing wrong at all with my heart.

IMO it sounds like you're just extra stressed, and/or in a heightened state of anxiety, and that's causing you to experience these palpitations more frequently. Were you experiencing these palpitations DURING any of the EKGs? Did the doctor(s) see them directly?
 

ThankfulJen

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Thank you for your reply! The beta blocker that I am on is metoprolol 25 MG, but I admit I haven't been taking those in about a week. My heart was definitely skipping beats when I went to the emergency room. I could feel it in my throat but the doctor said my heartbeat was normal. I was confused but I was so anxious and hadn't slept the whole night before I didn't ask about it. Kicked myself after for not asking. As I have just checked my pulse, I can feel it skip first after 8 beats, then after 2, and then again after 5. It's random but hasn't really let up since I woke around 830 this morning. I did tell my regular doctor about the skipped beats. Even the nurse told me she gets them often. She even gets them after eating pasta. Yes, afib. That's what I was convinced was happening. I think the biggest issue I am having is these usually go away and they just haven't for a month, save a couple of days here and there and a whole week just once. I think you are right that they could very well be due to stress and anxiety but then I change my mind when I'm feeling good and calm and they just show up. I know I sound ridiculous, but again I do thank you for your advice and help.
 

Givethanks82

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I’m willing to bet that this is a mix of your anxiety and plain old womanhood. Something they don’t tell us women is that our fluctuating hormones can cause palpitations. Especially as we get older. I’m 38 and have had them off and on for a few years. Palpitations is a symptom of peri menopause. Many women are in peri menopause for YEARS before they go into actual menopause. And guess what? You really can’t test for it because many women in peri menopause still have normal hormone levels!
 

bin_tenn

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As a fellow heart health anxiety sufferer, it doesn't sound ridiculous at all. I absolutely understand, unfortunately (but fortunately, in a way haha). I'm not saying that afib is always so obvious, but I wanted to share my own experience with it, in case it helped you feel better at all. Even when I was in afib, the doctor(s) at the hospital didn't seem very concerned. They just had to monitor me for a while.

I know a lot of people who experience the flutters, skipped/extra beats, etc. The difference is, they're not anxious about it, so it doesn't worry them. Even my friend who saw the cardiologist a while back while having symptomatic palpitations, she wasn't anxious or worried. She was just doing her due diligence to get it checked out and make sure she wasn't in danger. Now that she's on a medication, she doesn't even think about it anymore.

It sure would be nice to be able to simply not think about them, huh? :)
 

ThankfulJen

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Absolutely. The cycle can get so exhausting. I am so thankful for finding this forum. Although it may not take the anxiety away completely, it sure does help to talk to people like yourself who understands what I am going through. It is so easy to feel utterly alone with all of this. Helpless and hopeless. You really have made me feel better and more hopeful. I only hope I can do the same for you or someone else here who may be feeling this way! So let me thank you again lol!!
I’m willing to bet that this is a mix of your anxiety and plain old womanhood. Something they don’t tell us women is that our fluctuating hormones can cause palpitations. Especially as we get older. I’m 38 and have had them off and on for a few years. Palpitations is a symptom of peri menopause. Many women are in peri menopause for YEARS before they go into actual menopause. And guess what? You really can’t test for it because many women in peri menopause still have normal hormone levels!
Yes!!! I have been thinking on that as well! I have suspected I was going through perimenopause for a couple of years now. Plenty of the symptoms and I even brought this up to my doctor when I went and she recommended an over the counter medication that helps balance hormones. Of course, I can't remember it now. Go figure! I also did not realize that they can't test for it which saves me a trip because I was going to ask them to!! Thank you very much for your reply! It means a lot to me! I was convincing myself that no one would even bother reading my post, but with both your replies, I am assured I have found a great and safe support group! Thank you
 
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Givethanks82

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You can ask them to check your hormone level as you may be far along into peri menopause to be able to see some changes but it’s common to have normal levels and have symptoms.
 

ThankfulJen

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I will keep that in mind! Just bring it up at one of my normal checkups. I appreciate all your info! It has been a trying month to say the least! ❤
 

bin_tenn

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Absolutely. The cycle can get so exhausting. I am so thankful for finding this forum. Although it may not take the anxiety away completely, it sure does help to talk to people like yourself who understands what I am going through. It is so easy to feel utterly alone with all of this. Helpless and hopeless. You really have made me feel better and more hopeful. I only hope I can do the same for you or someone else here who may be feeling this way! So let me thank you again lol!!
Participating in anxiety forums is probably one of the most important things I've done, along with past therapy sessions and self help, to better cope with anxiety. It certainly isn't easy no matter what route you take, but there is definitely hope, and you will get past it. It takes a lot of time and effort, and there will be some setbacks. Don't feel discouraged if you fall back into a rut when you've been doing better. That's the natural course of things. But in due time, you'll find that the good days become more frequent, and the bad days less frequent. :)
 

ThankfulJen

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Participating in anxiety forums is probably one of the most important things I've done, along with past therapy sessions and self help, to better cope with anxiety. It certainly isn't easy no matter what route you take, but there is definitely hope, and you will get past it. It takes a lot of time and effort, and there will be some setbacks. Don't feel discouraged if you fall back into a rut when you've been doing better. That's the natural course of things. But in due time, you'll find that the good days become more frequent, and the bad days less frequent. :)
Yes. I think I shall seek a therapist now. Haven't been to one in over 10 years. Wether I do it or not, I always believe the best thing we can be is proactive with our well being, both physically and mentally!! Thank you for the encouragement
 

bin_tenn

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Someone here mentioned recently that it can be difficult to help ourselves, because when we're deep in the throes of anxiety, we feel like it's real and not caused by anxiety. And when we aren't dealing with anxiety, we think "hey, I feel great, I don't think I need to worry about therapy right now." And that is so true! It took me several years to suck it up and start therapy, even though I was feeling great at the time. But I'm glad I did!

We have a great group of people here. Plenty of experience, lots of diversity. I always let folks know I'm open to PMs if the need arises, but I'm equally inclined to help here on the board as well. Don't hesitate to reach out either way, someone is almost always available pretty quickly. :D
 

ThankfulJen

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That is so spot on. And we can't forget the cycle of wanting to be reassured by different doctor over and over again that nothing is wrong to not wanting to go to the doctor at all because we just know they will confirm something is terribly wrong and we just couldn't handle it. Right now I'm fairly calm. No irregular heart beats. But if I happen to get them anytime soon I know it will freak me out, regardless of all the reassurance! But talking to you all has made a huge difference!

Thank you for being so open..I feel the exact same way. I have no issues with PMs especially if it means helping someone out !
 

bin_tenn

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Yep! I personally always tended to avoid the doctor. Never really was the type to run to the doctor for every little sensation/symptom, no matter how bad I thought it was. I did go to the ER a handful of times over the years, but that was it. I finally started going to the doctor for regular checkups, after a long time of folks on a forum convincing me I'd be fine - and I am! :p Now I somewhat enjoy those appointments.

I'm glad you're feeling alright at the moment! Next time it happens, take some deep breaths and try to remember that you're fine. You've been checked out, more than once, and you're good. I know that's hard to do in the moment, but that's one way I tend to calm down.

Sorry you're here for these reasons, but glad you could join us. :D
 

ThankfulJen

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Im sorry to bug ya'all again. I've been having them all day again. They don't just happen here and there. They are continuous. Of course, I have to analyze everything said. So, specifically have you ever experienced the palps for hours at a time? Is this also normal for some people?
 

bin_tenn

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More than once, I've had them last over 24 hours. Each time, they began with a short time between them. Right at the 2 minute mark, I would experience a palpitation. Over the next 24+ hours, the time between them would slowly increase, until they were gone for good. I saw my cardiologist during one of those episodes. He checked things out, and all he said was "they sure can be a nuisance, can't they? *bit of a grin*".

So yeah, he called them a nuisance. I told him "yeah, but they last over 24 hours, and the timing between them is very rhythmic." And he said "yes, but ... sometimes these things just happen, and that's alright, go take care of yourself and be safe."

You know your body better than anyone else, so don't hesitate to seek medical attention if you feel you're in danger. But IMO it sounds like this is relatively common for you.
 

ThankfulJen

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More than once, I've had them last over 24 hours. Each time, they began with a short time between them. Right at the 2 minute mark, I would experience a palpitation. Over the next 24+ hours, the time between them would slowly increase, until they were gone for good. I saw my cardiologist during one of those episodes. He checked things out, and all he said was "they sure can be a nuisance, can't they? *bit of a grin*".

So yeah, he called them a nuisance. I told him "yeah, but they last over 24 hours, and the timing between them is very rhythmic." And he said "yes, but ... sometimes these things just happen, and that's alright, go take care of yourself and be safe."

You know your body better than anyone else, so don't hesitate to seek medical attention if you feel you're in danger. But IMO it sounds like this is relatively common for you.
It is and thank you for the prompt response. I guess I just haven't experienced them for this amount of time before. Or I'm not sure. It's strange to me how something I may have gone through before goes out the window when it happens again, like a brain fog or something and I will think, oh no this is definitely something new! I think it was posting in another forum and not getting a response and then, when finally someone did, she told me please get it checked by a doctor and get an ECG. That sent me into a wonderful state of panic. I had stated that had gotten an EKG in the post so then I was thinking maybe there was a difference between the two and had to look it up ‍.Again, thank you!
 
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bin_tenn

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Yep. Every time I experience physical sensations due to anxiety (or that cause anxiety) I feel like "well this time is worse", but it probably isn't. Haha. That's typical!

It's not unusual at all for people to feel frightened when someone suggests seeing a doctor. Oftentimes we'll assume that person finds something about what we've said concerning. The fact is, they're not a doctor; even if they are, they can't diagnose us over teh interwebz. A lot of folks (myself included) like to encourage seeing a medical professional if necessary, because that's ultimately the best course of action if someone is experiencing physical symptoms. Especially if those symptoms are new, persistent and/or worsening. Sure, it may be anxiety, but I know I'd feel personally responsible if I dismissed everything as anxiety, and the person later found out their physical wellbeing was in danger.

Yes, ECG and EKG are identical. EKG apparently comes from the German word for what we call Electrocardiogram (ECG), which in German is: Elektro-kardiographie. Random fact of the day... :)
 

ThankfulJen

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It is a good fact to know, honestly! I would love to get an opinion from a cardiologist but I just can't afford that right now and my gp felt it wasn't necessary. Must keep reminding myself, I'm fine and this will pass. I'm definitely going to be more proactive about taking my medications consistently. Hoping that will help!
 

bin_tenn

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That's fair! You can certainly trust your GP. If you feel the need for a second (specialized) opinion, you can definitely see a cardiologist when it's convenient / feasible for you. It doesn't sound to me like you need to get in ASAP, just when you get the chance and you're comfortable doing so.

Do you not currently take your meds consistently?
 

ThankfulJen

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I haven't been taking my beta blockers. When I made a call to my gp a day after my appointment to question when I could expect the irregular heart beats to quit she prescribed them to me. After my emergency room visit, (a week later) I looked them up to see exactly what they did and then read up on all the side effects one can have getting off of them and so I quit taking them out of fear. I took one yesterday and today along with my anxiety pill , my magnesium, and my b12 vitamins. I also find it strange that the irregularities seem to ease up in the evening. I do feel like this is such a one sided conversation or that I'm needy for attention lol May I ask what sort of HA you have suffered from? And how long you have been dealing with HA?
 
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