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Medical reason for skipped beats
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Medical reason for skipped beats

I have read many posts on this site about skipped heartbeats (I think they are called PVC's here or different terms are used) but I call them skipped heart beats. I have had these for years, as have others, but I have seen very little mentioned here as to what is really causing these skips to occur. I can't believe that it is just tension or nervousness that is causing them. There must be some sort of electical activity in the nerves surrounding the heart muscles that acts up from time to time, and causes these skips to occur.

Why hasn't more research been done to pinpoint the mechanism that causes these heart skips, palpitations and other arrythmias to happen? Things like these don't just happen for no reason. There must be something in all of us that is occuring in us for us to feel our hearts skipping, not beating on regular intervals, am I correct?

With all fo the research done on major medical diseases such as cancer, MS, Parkinson's, etc. why does it seem that doctors don't have more knowledge on exactly what causes PVC's, skipped heartbeats, and related arrythmias?  It's almost as if we are told, "learn to live with it", which we do, but what causes this to happen?  Don't doctors really want to find out what causes these skipped beats, palpitations, and so on?  Is all we can be told is, "it won't kill you" or "just learn to live with them"?

What really causes them to happen?  Is it chemical?  Electrical? Biological?  Can't we get some firmer answers on what is causing these arrythmias?
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Hi Doug,

You are correct that there must be an electrical reason for PVCs to occur.  The problem is PVCs are a nuisance, for some people a severe nuisance that can affect quality of life, but these cases are very rare and do not lead death.  The majority of research into electrophysiology goes into life threatening problems or common problems (examplse ventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation).

For now that is best answer I can give you.  I agree that we need to learn the causes, but I don't think the answer is coming soon.

Thanks for posting.
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That is a brilliant question... WELL PUT. Maybe it will shed some much needed light on the issue...
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Your question speaks for the many of us who suffer from these skipped beats. And while these skipped beats cause us anxiety and stress which leads to even more skipped beats, nobody in the medical world seems to be motivated to find a reason and a cure for them.

My honest opinion of why doctors don't do more research on this is because it is  not a life-threatening condition so the money is not there for these doctors to research it. Although, I think that there could be a lucrative medical practice in curing these things because you, me and millions of others would kill to have these things go away. The skips might not kill us but they cause enough discomfort and stress to be worth seeking treatment for them. I pray that someone will take on these skipped heartbeats/PVC's. They would improve the quality of life of countless sufferers. Great Question!

Erik
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The causes of "skipped beats" are understood.  The details have been mentioned in this forum by many folks (myself included), so check out the archives.  In a nutshell, everybody has electrical cardiac cells found in inappropriate locations (foci).  These send off electrical signals continuously.  For most folks, these signals never get anywhere.  For some folks, they cause everything from "skipped beats" to major cardiac arrhythmias...all depending on their proximity to normal electrical pathways in the heart.  To confuse things a bit more, their electrical signalling is modulated by the activity of body's nervous systems, especially those located near the heart.

There it is.  Well understood.

-Arthur
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I was very happy to find this website and find that many others like myself were having symptoms like I have (skipped heartbeats and arrythmias).  I do understand everyone's frustrations with have unexpected "runs" of the arrythmias. I first started having them in my early 30's, I am now 54 and I seldom can predict when they will arrive or depart.

I have gone weeks, months and even a few years between episodes but sometimes they come back with a vengance and totally throw me off guard or sometimes I can literally tell that they will probably start soon as my body feels slightly different, I sense that something feels different in my body, maybe hormonal changes or electrolyte changes, chemical, physical, it's hard to pinpoint but I can tell something starts to feel different.

The first doctor who examined me told me that a lot of it had to do with the close association that that Vegus nerve has throughout the body. As far as I understand it, that nerve connects everything from the brain to the heart to the stomach to the intestines to the bowels and it's all inter-related. So, with me, if my arrythmias start, I feel a different attitude, my stomach might start to churn and even my bowels want to start doing their thing. Or, one of my body parts can start acting up, and then that affects my heartbeat rhythms. I don't have to be nervous or upset in order to have my arrythmias start, so I can't believe that it's always nervous anxiety causing it.

I think it's often the other way around, the arrythmias start when I'm calm, and then that pesky Vegus nerve knows that the arrythmias have stared and it starts notifying the rest of my body to start gearing up and causing me discomfort. If the nervous system is automatic, it's no wonder it's hard to calm down even when we want to, we're not designed to be able to counteract that Vegus nerve system very easily if it's affected by our arrythmias, am I right?

It's too bad it's not so easy to find out exactly what is causing our arrythmias because I would easily pay $1,000 right out of my own pocket if someone, anyone, could find out exactly what is causing mine, how to stop them, and have them never return. Now that I know what they feel like, if I was a doctor, I would devote my research to trying to stop and elminate these debilitating (I realize they are not life-threatening) arrythmias that would make our quality of life so much better and fuller.

We have been told from childhood that our hearts are so important and all we hear is how you need to contact your doctor if you feel any kind of irregularity or pain associated with your hearts, so that's just what we do. Then we find out we are ok, but we don't feel ok, and yes, our hearts are not quite regular, but it's ok, it won't kill us. But it's always telling us that it's not quite regular, so I try to ignore it, but it keeps merrily skipping along like a car that needs a tuneup.

I think in each of our cases it could be different reasons why we are getting these arrythmias. I have some ideas and think it may even be related to the physical structure of our bodies, maybe the proximity of our hearts to other internal organs, or where our nerve endings developed as we were developing before we were even born. Why do some people never have thesea arrythmias and others of us do?  Right now as I type this my heart is skipping and I am sitting calm at my desk.

I accept how I feel, I deal with it, but I would love to make it go away.
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Hi Tickertock, I think the desensitizing idea is great - in particular, why couldn't someone come up with some kind of anesthetic treatment, botox, or something, so we can't feel them. One area research ought to take. I have tried biofeedback - didn't work in that regard, though it was helpful in other ways.

Jeff: Yes, research crusade, really we should. I have often thought about starting a website of information, support, maybe people blogging about different types of treatment (especially alternative treatments if they feel like being a guinea pig, as there are literally so many to try)...and maybe make it be a 5013c for fundraising for research. I have thought about it but I don't know if I have the kind of committment needed to see it through all the way, plus, I don't know much about websites, would have to hire that done. What is your vision? PS: I'm glad you don't have documented VT. I mean, I wish it was documented, but maybe it's not VT.

Linda: Good analogy!
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Thank you Sunnygirl for explaining the differences between PAC/PVC.  I know I have one of them.  When I had my Dr.'s appt. 2 days ago the Dr. was rambling off a bunch of things, but until I came home and researched it, my mind was in a frenzy at the appt. since I didn't totaly understand it.  I'll ask at my next appt.

Since being pregnant, I have noticed a lot less of them, but just in the past 3-4 days I am feeling them again, but I have been under more stress this week.  

My biggest fear is after the baby is born, because it was after my last one was born (a year and a half ago) is when I had my first major attack, where I skipped many beats in a row and I just couldn't control it, when it was done doing that my heart beat so fast I hyperventalated.  So I often wonder if it's a bit horomone related, but it could have been from lack of sleep too enhancing it since I read being tired can bring them on.  

So can anyone tell me what the worst that can happen to me if I can't seem to get my mind to get the PVC's under control for several beats in a row?  That's what freaks me out even harder, is when I get 2-3 in a row and I start to panic that the heart won't go back to rythem and it seems to make the PVC's worse and more frequent. Will I just black out and come back around?
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Are you talking about 3 PVCs in a row at a fast rate or are you talking about 3 PVCs in bigemmy or trigemmy or the like? If the former, I know what you mean as I get these sudden bursts that scare the heck out of you. If it is the former, have you had it documented? It might not be a ventricular arrythmia.
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84483_tn?1289941537
i am not a medical doctor, but what i thought was PVCs in row is usually bigeminal PVCs(documented on ECG) a pvc every other beat feels as though your heart is rolling over and thumping with no rhythm whatsoever very frightening!!!

if you think you are having PVCs in row NSVT, cough real hard that might help.bottomline with a normal cardiac evaluation, the chances of anything bad happening are just about nil.
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DOES ANYBODY ELES SEEM THEM TO BE WORSE AFTER THEY EAT.MINE COME AT RANDOM TIMES. BUT ALMOST ALWAYS AFTER I EAT.ICAN BE JUST RESTING AROUND THE HOUSE OR STANDING AROUND TALKING TO SOMEONE AND THEY WILL START.
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I think you are right, Erik, this hasn't been researched because of the $$, and because cardiologists and electrophysiologists have bigger fish to fry, but I think they are really missing out on something here. Look at the Prozac industry and the plastic surgery industry. Treating depression or spider veins is not curing anything life threatening, but look at all the money that is being spent there. Wish the doctors and researchers would get the message. I mean, who among us wouldn't just go to the bank and sign a note for $30,000 or more to be cured of these frightening PVCs? And who is to say there aren't a lot of suicides from these? I'll bet there are. I'll bet a lot of the posters here have considered it. Just my rant for the day.
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Hi Hammerhead. There used to be a poster on here, Mike Brewer, who shared a ton of information about how he "cured" his PVCs by taking antireflux medications such as over-the-counter Maalox plus a daily Prevacid-type med. He believed his PVCs to be related to reflux, which of course is related to eating. I tried this for myself but it didn't work for me. However, my gastroenterologist was willing to entertain that PVC symptoms could indeed fall under the category of "atypical reflux."

If you are interested, maybe there is still something in the archives about the exact regimen Mike tried. I believe he took the liquid antacid after every meal. He also used other antireflux precautions such as sleeping with the head of the bed elevated. Good luck!
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That was a very good question.  I just found this site and some of the info is very helpful but I'm still stumped as to why??  Why do I get these PVC's?  I started noticing mine when I was 17, and I'm now 29 (F), but they started off as no big deal.  I would feel it and then go back to normal, no big deal.  Over the years they seem to get more and more fequent.  I do seem to notice more when I'm stressed but they certainly come out of nowhere even when I feel very content.

They feel like a skipped beat to me, but I was just told from wearing a holter monitor that it's an extra heartbeat (pvc). When I first started getting them it was only one skipped beat, then I was fine.  A couple years ago the one skipped beat would turn into 2, sometimes 3 and 4 in a row and I would totaly freak out.  I have had 2 major attacks since a year and a half ago, thought I was going to die.  My heart went out of rhythem for several beats, it just wasn't going back to normal, I thought it was just going to quit and I would die.  How scary was that???!!!!  Since those attack, I have been very concious of these PVC's and it only makes it worse.  I try to had to relax and put into my mind that nobody has died from them, but some moments it just doesn't work.  I'm a strong minded person and have tried to fight this, but since those 2 major attacks, I have a hard time with it.  

So does anyone know what the worst that can happen when I get a major attack?  I see a lot of talk about having a PVC but does anyone get to where it happens several beats in a row just freaking you out??  And no matter how hard you try to get your mind off from it, it just doesn't work?  What will happen to me if my heart doesn't go back into normal rythem?  Do I just pass out and wake up again?  I get nervous because most of the time I'm with my kids all by myself.
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I've had the same kinds of runs of PVCs (three or so skips in a row) and they are totally disconcerting and I also thought I was going to die. It makes me want to run away, but how can you run from your own body? Yep, they freak me out for sure. You could ask, as I did, to wear an event recorder, which is kind of like a long-term Holter monitor. I mean, you can wear it for up to three months or longer if you can convince a doctor to let you. But even with that, I did not catch my run of skipped beats, although I did catch single PVCs and "inappropriate sinus tachycardia". But unless you can somehow "document" your arrhythmia in that way, then they can't tell you much. Another way might be to have an electrophysiological study, where they send a camera up a wire to your heart to map out where the beat originates. They could possibly ablate the abberant tissue at that time, but maybe not, and there are risks involved as well. Your doctor may or may not want to do that, sometimes they want you to catch it on an event recorder first.  

Other than that, I guess you could try drug therapy if you wanted, people have had varying results with that.

Also, I don't think any of us should discount trying all of the self-help things we can: diet, quitting smoking, drinking or whatever, yoga, meditation, herbs, allergy testing, elimination diets, etc. "I'll try til I die" is my motto. It is also nice to see that people on here who have had even more horrific experiences than I have had with skips are still alive and kickin', and I try to remember that when I have an episode.

We should probably all exchange phone numbers and call each other when we're having symptoms...or start a hotline 1-800-PALP-R-US. Ha ha. But seriously, I wish you well, hang in there, and hopefully you'll find a way to cope with these or make them go away.
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I too would go to the bank and take out a loan for whatever it would cost to cure these PVC's. Maybe if we got enough of us sufferers together and raised enough money, we could get a Cardiologist to devote his career to curing PVC's. Like you said, spider veins and depression won't kill you but a lot of money is spent curing them. I'm sure there is enough of us to make a lot of money off of curing PVC's.


Ginger-

I get 5 or 6 PVC's in a row sometimes. I also have had Many PAC's in a row that lead to a four hour episode of Atrial Fibrillation. I thought I was going to die. I lived through it  and found out that it isn't life threatening. Hang in there. I've had PVC's for 20 years and you do get better at coping with them as you get older.

Erik
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Thanks for your response Sunnygirl.  I should mention that I'm 4 months pregnant so I'm not really much for extensive testing right now, just wish I could find the simple, non-medicated solution, and maybe understand the reason behind them.  And why all of a sudden they get out of control when I've felt much more stress in my life before and never had any trouble with the PVC.  And now they come out of nowhere even when I'm not stressed.  I just don't get it.    

I really can't take any medications to help them right now, and really I would rather not if it's not necessary, I just wish my mind could overcome it, but at times it seems hopeless no matter how hard I fight my mind.  

I'm really glad I found this forum, it puts my mind at ease a bit knowing there are others out there going through the same thing, same feelings as me.  I have told all my family and friends about this but nobody seems to understand what I'm feeling.  And I thought I was a freak and all alone or something.  Thank you everyone for being a good support system for each other, this is great, I'm so relieved I'm not alone.
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If one of you Cardiologists researched the cause of PVC's and PAC's and were able to come up with a cure, I think it would be a multi-billion dollar industry. The anxiety and depression that these things cause is excessive. Like me and another poster have said, we would pay amounts equivalent to a mortgage to rid ourselves of these things. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Erik
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I'm still trying to understand these *skips* of my heart and this is all new to me so I've been doing a little reading to understand the medical terms and what is happening.

What exactly is the difference between a PVC and a PAC?  I just read a good website and they seem to be the same symptoms with it, just explained that it's a premature heartbeat.  So what's the difference?
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Avatar_n_tn
Sometimes I don't know what is worse ... frequent PVCs/PACs, or infrequent bursts of SVT/VT. I get both. The worsts worry me a lot, but then they are over and done with quickly.
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Hi Jeff,

I didn't remember you got VT...did you get it documented? Wouldn't the docs do an EP study for VT? Sorry I don't remember all your details, I am just a periodic visitor here.

Ginger:  Preatrial contractions (PACs) are extra beats originating from the top part of your heart; PVCs, preventricular contractions originate from the ventricles, bottom part of your heart. Both are supposed to be equally benign, is my understanding.

I once had a doctor tell me that some women's palpitatoins get better during pregnancy and some get worse. Could just be hormone fluctuations, I'll bet, and may get better as  you progress in your pregnancy, but would def. discuss it with your OB/GYN.

And ERIK

Amen, brother! Let's start our own d*mn research foundation!

Have a peaceful palpitation free day everyone.
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84483_tn?1289941537

i have been to the brink and back with PVCs and yes even considered the ultimate(how dumb , good thing i had strong mind, very supportive wife and sons), if you read medical literature and studies you find that nearly every one has these beats, the fact remain that only a very small percentage are symptomatic from them, we here on the forum are among that unfortunate percentage.

i think the key with these ectopics is to desensitize the person to feeling them, while a few with PVCs do benefit from an ablation,most have them return from what i understand that is why doctors are not so keen on ablation for PVCs and leave it as a last resort for person that have them in 1000s daily and is incapacitated by their symptoms from them.
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I don't know whether it is VT or SVT/PAT/A-fib as it has never been documented. I suspect VT but have no proof. It certainly feels bad enough when it happens.

Why don't we start our own crusade to have more attention placed on symptomatic PVCs/PACs. Lobby politicians, researchers, drug companies, etc.
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It's been 'good' for us over here in the UK that our PM, Tony Blair, has just recently had an ablation for "atrial flutter". This was big news and so brought it into the spotlight for a while.
I'm still going through a good spell with my palpitations, I'm not getting many at all, it's total bliss ... but the memory is still fresh of how my life came to a grinding halt because of them not so long ago, the terrible fear they instill, the constant "out of balance" feeling in my chest, I live in dread of them returning.  I know the fault in my heart is still there as I often feel it, but it's mostly quiet at the moment, like a sleeping giant.  
I send all my support and understanding to those of you out there suffering with heart irregularities.  It's OK for doctors and others to say "don't worry, it won't kill you", for me it's like someone saying "I'm going to hold your head under the water for a while and you won't be able to breathe - but don't worry, it won't kill you".
Best wishes to all, Linda
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Interesting about the eating thing and potential malox solution.  Thanks for posting.  

Me and my brother get these weird ebat every now and then so it must be genetic.  I also want to thank the poster who spoke of the electrical cells around the heart being in the wrong places and the Vena nerve.  Makes sense.  

I have no family history of Ht Attack or stroke but we do have cholesterol over 200.  When I was 25 I had been drinking way too much at a party and started to think I was going to die on the way home.  When I got home in the door I went to the bathroom and threw up, it triggered my heart somehow and it went BAM! BAM! BAN! BAM!  BAM! that many times and I thought it was going to freakin EXPLODE!!!!!!!!

Then about 7 years later seems I didn't learn my lesson and had 10 Vodka and Cranberries and 6 beers in a 5 hour period.  I felt sick, started throwing up and then WHAMMO!  I went into atrial fib for 12 hours!!!  I converted automatically when on the way to the hospital in the amblance.  STUPID STUPID STUPID me, I NEVER did that again.  Doc said I threw my electrolytes off and was low on magnesium.  If you are showing low on mag in a blood test then your balance is WAY outta wack b/c it NEVER shows low in mag.  

That was 2 years ago and I pray to GOD almighty on my knees and thank him for giving me another day to live.  I will NEVER be that STUPID STUPID STUPID again.  I think for us who have these weird electrical things goin on, we are at higher risk when we do dumb **** like that.  Now that I am aware, I do notice an occasional skip or blurble and never when I am excercising!  Only when I am relaxed or maybe under some mental stress.  Very annoying!!!  I can relate to all of you.  I pray and wish you all the best and thanks for posting here.

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Umm, people, depression CAN kill!!  Whoever said it was harmless??  It can be severe and lead to suicide, and does every day of the year.  Benign PVC's cannot be compared to depression.  Yes, they can be unsettling and cause anxiety.  Believe me, doctors have scores of PVC patients in their offices, and would like to help them.  Then they could concentrate on patients with heart problems.  And yes, I have had every  possible kind of arrhythmia myself, including VT, and I do not have a normal heart, but I also do not waste one minute worrying about them, and would rejoice if I was told that they were benign.  Be thankful folks!
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Yeah, depression can kill and chronic PVCs can lead to depression, you will get plenty of people who will testify to that. My point was not to belittle depression at all but just to say that it is not an immediate, emergent, life-threatening condition, and yet there are millions of dollars being pumped into developing drugs for its treatment. Also, as much as I try to have a good attitude, and as much as I appreciate that other people have it worse, I really do have a hard time being thankful for any PVCs or other irregularities I have.
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A related discussion, Things that affect pvc/pac was started.
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A related discussion, MY HEART FEELS WEAK was started.
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A related discussion, What meds are available? was started.
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