Posted By CCF Cardio MD-SGM on February 27, 1998 at 23:11:03:
In Reply to: Irregular Heart Beat posted by Lynne Griffiths on February 21, 1998 at 15:55:00:
: I have suffered from an irregular heart beat for about 5 years. My heart will beat at a normal pace for 5, 6, or 7 times and then seem to miss a beat - then do half a beat and then beat normally for another 5, 6 or 7 times.
I am 55 years old, female, 5' 2" tall, weight 150 pounds.
I have seen a Doctor and Specialist who say I have an eptopic beat which is not life threatening and not to worry. I have been prescribed Propanolol (Inderal) but when I take these I cannot walk or carry anything because of breathlessness. My Doctor then replaced the propanolol with Diazapam - one to be taken when my condition gets really bad.
I do not worry but it is an extreme discomfort. I never have a normal heartbeat.
Recently my heart has only been beating normally for approx 4 times before it skips and does a "wobble".
Yesterday I had a dreadful experience - I had cramp like pains across my chest for a few minutes, the cramp went away but then my heart started beating once normally then skipped a beat and did half a beat - this continued all day with only one beat out of two normal. I felt very tired and unable to do any housework- I felt that I just wanted to sleep. At about 8.30 I took one diazapem and then I had to go to bed . It was a very uncomfortable experience and when resting in bad I became more conscious of the unusual heartbeat.
This morning my heartbeat was back to normal (7 normal beats and, one skip and then an extra half-beat).
I drink very little alcohol, no caffeine or low calorie drinks. I eat cheese or chocolate very rarely. I am not the worrying type. I exercise on toning tables twice a week and on an exercise bike 3 times a week - neither of these affects my heartbeat except to temporarily increase my pulse rate.
What do you suggest as my next move. I feel that to go back to my doctor would be a waste of time as I never seem to see him when my heart beat is particularly bad.
Do you consider that I need to take further action or should I just put up with it as an eptopic beat as I have been told to in the past.
Dear Ms. Griffiths,
The syndrome of palpitations that you describe is a common problem. Extra heart beats, or "skipped beats" typically represent a premature electrical impulse arising from either the upper or lower heart chambers. In the vast majority of cases, especially in the absence of heart muscle disease, this problem is completely benign and of no risk to the patient. You may consider requesting an "event recorder" from your physician. With this, you could record the irregular beats whenever they occur, so that they are documented. However, the best medical therapy available is beta blockers such as inderal. Other, stronger medications often end up causing more harm than good for conditions such as PVCs (premature ventricular beats) or PACs (premature atrial beats).
Youre quite right in not drinking alcohol, caffeine, or eating chocolate, as these factors can exacerbate your skipped beats.
Although you describe yourself as not the worrying type, I fear that you are very worried, indeed, about your heartbeat. In fact, it would seem that despite reassurances, you remain very troubled about this issue.
One consideration is to see an electrophysiologist regarding the performance of electrical study of your heart. Some causes of premature beats can be permanently "cured" by catheter-based therapy of the heart muscle. If you would like an appointment, please call 1 800 CCF CARE and ask to see an electrophysiologist at desk F14. Information provided in the Heart Forum is for general purposes. Of course, specific diagnoses and therapies can only be prescribed by a physician personally involved in your care.
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