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Help with irregular heartbeats.

Posted by Dan Jorgensen on April 14, 1999 at 21:21:39
I am a 37 year old male in good physical condition.  I just had an angiogram to clarify a positive result on an EKG.  The angiogram test went great.  The Dr. told me I have nothing to worry about.  For that I am thankful.  I had a stress-echo done last summer because of some irregular heartbeats and that  came out with good results as well.
     The reason I am writing is because I have been especially plagued with  skipped heartbeats and irregular heartbeats, (I think they are called PVC's?)  They seemed to go away completely for 6-8 months, and now, since my primary Dr. told me he was very concerned about my EKG and said I needed to see a cardiologist, and I had the angiogram, they have gotten worse. I am trying to relax and ignore them.  The Dr. prescribed atenol, but they don't seem to be helping,(1/2 of .25mg per day for 3 of the last 5 days).  I am also trying XANAX which seemed to help last summer but are not being effective now.
     Any advice?  I have been told not to worry about it.  I am trying but am very frustrated.  My resting heart rate is somewhat low, (46-50 bpm), and that concerns me as well.  I've worked out 3 times a week for the past 20 years.  Also, my total cholesterol is 240, and blodd pressure is 130/90.  Thanks.

Posted by CCF CARDIO MD - MTR on April 15, 1999 at 11:03:04
Dear Dan, thank you for your question.  If your angiogram was normal, then these palpitations are considered benign - they will not harm you, but may be a nuisance.  The dose of atenolol you are taking is very small, so perhaps a larger dose would help more.  Alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine can precipitate palpitations so you should avoid those substances.  Otherwise, the best thing to do is to develop a coping strategy with which you focus on other things and try not to worry about the palpitations.

I hope you find this information useful.  Information provided in the heart forum is for general purposes only.  Only your physician can provide specific diagnoses and therapies. Please feel free to write back with additional questions.  Good luck.
If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at www.ccf.org/heartcenter.   The Heart Center website contains a directory of the cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your cardiac problem.

Posted by Dan J. on April 15, 1999 at 22:08:54
Dear Dr.,
Thank you for your response and for this forum.  It's a great idea and very reassuring to get a second opinion.
Posted by Dan J. on April 16, 1999 at 02:36:35
One more question, I read today in the newsapaper that Cambridge Heart Inc. just got FDA approval for a "super stress test" that is suppose to be able to discover "T-wave alternans' signals that predict future cardiac arrest.  This new stress test is suppose to be able to more accurately predict patients at risk of ventricular fibrillation.  Can you explain what that means, and, are all people with arrhythmia at a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest?  Is this a test all people with arrhythmia should have?
Posted by CCF CARDIO MD - MTR on April 16, 1999 at 08:39:20
Dear Dan, this "super stress test" is not applicable to you.  It should be reserved for patients with known coronary artery disease and should not be used for patients with benign palpitations like yourself.  I hope this helps.  Thank you for your kind words regarding the heart forum as well.

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