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can tachycardia kill you?
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can tachycardia kill you?

Hello, im a 25 yr enblish girl and have just recently found your web site (tiss very helpfull)over here in England people dont really understand. Ive suffered anxiety for a couple of years and had severe panic attacks whenever i wett to London to begin with and then my world got smaller and smaller untill i can hardly go to the next town let alone a city. Anyway after the doctor finally convincing me i could not die from my super fast heart beat in panic attack i heard from a friend that there is something called tachycardia that basicly means super fast heart beat and its dangerous! now obviously im totally freaked out again and worried if i go anywhere i may have a hidious attack that i cant control and die suddenly. is this possible? i mean the doctor convinced me you couldnt die from it but now i have lost faith and i was just starting to feel better....please please can somebody get back to me as soon as possible because im feeling really afraid, trapped and deppressed. thankyou for reading x
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74076_tn?1189759432
Hi Twitch25,

I am sorry to hear about your concerns -- but please be assured that they are VERY common.  You WILL NOT die from the tachycardia caused by a panic attack.  Where you are running into problems is that some people with panic attack genuinely believe that this is caused by a cardiac condition and they can die from it.  When you get worked up and develop the tachycardia, it only reinforces that belief because you have the tachycardia and the feeling of impending doom from the panic attack.  You may benefit from biofeed back.  Once you understand that you aren't going to die from panic attacks and understanding that you will probably never get complete rid of them, you can accept them and deal with them.  I know this is much more difficult than I am making it out to be.  Don't let panic anxiety control  your life, do your best to control it.  I think the easiest way to do this is to accept it, know that you won't die from it, and move on.

I hope this helps and good luck.
18 Comments
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21064_tn?1309312333
Greetings from the U.S. : 0

I'm assuming by your post that you have discussed your fast heart rate with your doctor.  Do you only get the episodes during a panic attack?  Have you been told whether your fast rate is due to the panic itself, or if it is primary tachycardia?  Do you only get the fast rate when you are feeling panicked?  Have you been tested to rule out cardiac problems (ekg, echo, holter)?

I am NOT a doctor, just a patient with a long history of pvcs, MVP, mitral regurgitation and anxiety. Been there, done that....

Hope you are feeling better.
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84483_tn?1289941537

Tachycardia from panic or anxiety will rarely ever harm you though it might make you feel like you are dying. I am 41 suffered from tachycardia from time I can remember my resting heartrate as a young boy and in my teens were between 90-115 bpm most of the time( panic and anxiety shot it to the 140-160 range) , besides feeling the constant pounding I tolerated it extremely well. I was put on inderal from 18 til I was about 23, help the tachycardia tremoudously, my tachy is adrenalin driven and I have an apaprently hyperactive sinus node otherwise my heart function, valves and even the rhythm is completely normal. I take a beta blocker atenolol and never have a tachycardic episode while on it , even though I am also an on and off again PVC sufferer. Try and harness the anxiety it only feeds the tachycardia, in return you will notice the episodes will become less severe and less frequent.

Ventricular tachycardia with structural heart disease or coronary heart disease as I understand can be dangerous, also V-tach related to ARVD, Brugada and long qt syndromes, also HCM can be dangerous. rapid ventricular response in WPW syndrome with a-fib can on rare occasions be dangerous also. Also any incessant tachycardia that last more than 12 hours a day can lead to cardiomyopathy, It is my understanding this can take months to years to manifest itself depending.

I am not a doctor this is my understanding on tachycardia after being stricken with it practically all my life, don't let what you read or what people tell you frighten you without checking with your doctor or doctors for a definitive diagnosis, the last thing you want to do is end up being cardiac cripple without any cardiac problem whatsoever listening to people talk and reading too much can lead you fast in this direction unless you are informed or diagnosed by an expert in this field. Get completely checked out to make sure you are okay, if in doubt seek a second opinion, then go from there. Good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
You need to find out what kind of tachycardia you're getting. Most of the time they are benign (PVCs, from panic attacks, etc). But for your peace of mind, you might need additional tests like in my case I had 24-hr holter monitoring. I also had a stress test where my heart is already beating 120 bpm even before the exercise part and it shoot up to 170 bpm in 4 minutes.  Mine is inappropriate sinus tachycardia or IST. It's from the sinus node - heart's natural pacemaker. It's not serious but it still needs to be controlled, so I had to take beta-blockers for that.  

Goodluck!
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Avatar_m_tn
From what I know it is hard to see a specialist in England and can takes months to get the tests you request. If you are truely still woried ask for an Echocardiogram and an EKG and maybe a 24-48 Holter Monitor as this will almost always pick up any dangerous heart conditions.

But regualr sinus tachycardia (normal heart rhythm just fast) cannont harm you at all. I doubt someone at your age has cornoray heart disease which would be one of the things that would cause alarm as would what other people have said. (cardiomyopathies and condtions like Long QT, Brugada etc) but these are rare to very rare.

If it would give you peace of mind demand you get the tests you want and even tell them you will pay for them if you can afford it.
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Avatar_n_tn
I had the same problem when I was in my 20's.  The doctor prescribed a beta blocker and Xanax.  I really didn't like the affect so I went off them.  The tachy and anxiety finally went away as I began to get back into aerobics (even though at the time I was in pretty good shape).

I would recommend three things that worked for me:
1)  You can learn to deactivate the panic attack through bio-feedback.  I learned this.
2)  Once you have some level of control I would start exercising slowly.  Aerobics lets out natural endorphins that are relaxers and help fight stress and anxiety.
3)  I would take a light anxiety med to get over the rough spots.

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Avatar_n_tn
You all seem to be well versed in the PAC and PVC department. Maybe you can answer a couple of questions for me.

I have had palpitations for approximately 20 years.  I would have them every once in a while until I got married and had kids.  I now get them daily.  I had two reeeeeally bad days last week and took 3 days off work and 1 trip to the ER department.  I woke up one morning and had the extra beat and then thump and decided I would ignore them.  Got to work and was fine for a while and then they just kept coming, so I left work early.  The next day they came back with a vengence and I felt sometimes 4 per minute.  They seemed to be a flutter of beats and then the pause and thump.  I had an ekg at the hospital and they only caught one.  It was a PAC they told me.

I have a bicuspid aortic valve with minimal regurgitation.  I am due for an echo in about 6 months.  I had a stress test 4 years ago and it only showed PAC's once I got going at a high speed and incline.

I was so scared last week that I refuse to believe that they won't do something to me.  My friend at work says it's probably just stress or anxiety.  I do tend to get stressed easily and we just moved to a new house the week before.  I also used to suffer from anxiety attacks, but I haven't had any (up until after all the palpitations) for years.

I don't feel anxious or feel like I'm having a panic attack until after I get the big thump, or the feeling of my heart going to flutter it's way out of my chest.  I even had one that made my head feel kind of, not dizzy, but funny sort of.  Almost like the palpitation went to my head.

Could it be anxiety presenting itself as palpitations instead of the "OH NO, I'M GOING TO DIE!" feeling?

Would appreciate some comments.

Connie
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Avatar_n_tn
I had PAC's similar to you.  In fact I had them at times one every 3rd beat.  It was horrible.

I found they tended to ebb and flow.  They would come with a vengence and then subside.  Anxiety and stress do have something to play.  The fact that you have them more after marriage and kids proves my point.  It takes a great deal of energy to have kids.  I have five, youngest 17.  

It's difficult to know what to do.  All I can say is that it can become a vicious circle.  I found that getting enough sleep and keeping stress down helped exceedingly.   Maybe you need to some time off.  Everybody seems to respond differently to different things.

Also if they become very bad to the point they affect your lifestyle (which it seems they are doing) then I would go to a specialist in arrythmias.

I still have them from time to time, but maybe a few an hour. The ablation for AFIB got most of the hot spots.

All I can say is you aren't going to die.  But I also think you need to look into some solutions in the physical and emotional area.  It might mean meds in the short run.  Good luck.

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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for your reply.  I joined a gym with my husband who works out often and jogs.  I haven't worked out since I was 19 years old.  Ironically, the first night I went to the gym, I got palps bad just after changing.  I tried to tough it out and got on the treadmill and went slow.  I don't know if the heart monitor wasn't working, but I would go from 84 to 99 to 106 to 83 to 90 to 100,etc. I didn't feel the palps on the treadmil, but stopped anyway because I was nervous.  I then told my husband I wanted to go.  The palps continued on the way home and got so bad I went to the hospital.

When I talk to my doc, he says it's anxiety, but I don't feel anxious before the palps, it's after I have them.  It's the old "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" thing.

Sometimes, I can go for days with just a couple a day and then bang! I have them all day long and they are really strong and forceful.  I wish I knew why.

I want to work out, my family doc says to work out, but I am soooo scared to.  I smoked for years and just cut down from 1 pack a day to 1/2 a pack a day  and no longer smoke in the house.  I figure that will help me to keep cutting down. That much is a huge step for me.  When I first cut down, that's when we decided to join the gym. I really want to become healthier.  I also started taking vitamin c and omega 3 oils today. I heard Omega 3 oils help regulate the heartbeat.

I will try the gym again when I work up the nerve.  If I am feeling ok and then get palps before I start to work out, I will know that it's the anxiety of thinking about exercising.

These palps are really a horrible thing to have.  My son, who's 14 years old, complains of them sometimes.   I guess he got that horrible gene from me.  I feel so guilty about passing it along.

Anyway, thanks for your comments, I appreciate them.

Connie
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi...you hit my problem dead on.  I too haven't worked out in a while in fear that I'll have a panic attack while exercising.  I recently bought a heart rate monitor and my heart rate is so dynamic.  It jumps up to 85 then down to the 70s then back up and so on.  It's like a switch.  Just today while on a bus to school I was feeling anxious and my heart rate jumped to 150+.  Little things like taking a deep breathe or even speaking cause changes in my heart rate.  I've become so obsessed with this and it's become quite debilitating.  Before it all started I was very active...and now if at all possible I avoid exerting myself.  Does anyone else have this variability in heart rate?  I started accepting anxiety as the cause, but today was a huge setback.  I've had an EKG, Holter, and Echo and the diagnosis is anxiety.  I can't accept that a constantly dynamic heartbeat is the result of anxiety.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Good luck whelan5.  If I figure out ways to control this I'll let you know.  

prjose56
lilrican_56***@****
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Avatar_n_tn
Very good and informational posts.  I am 34 years old, somewhat athletic and a non-smoker.  My diet is not all that great but I am working on it.  I think everybody needs to know what I am learning the very hard way - this is a viscious cycle that is pushed out of control by anxiety.  I am convinced that the PVCs or PACs cause the anxiety and panic attacks.

My story is quite similar to all of yours.  My first signs of PVCs started occurring 5 years ago during an extremely stressful time in my life.  Over a 6-month period, I went through all of the tests imaginable and tried different medicines.  However, until the stressfull siuation was resolved, nothing helped.  Nothing.  Within a couple months of the stressful event subsiding, so did my "alarming PVCs".  I call them alarming because quite frankly, a number of us have the PVCs which at times may not even cause us to think about them for more than three seconds, correct?

After 4 years of peace, it started all over again just three weeks ago.  Once again, the common denominator for me was STRESS.  Well, apparently my heart knew this.  Within the past three weeks, two series of irregular beats pushed me into tach and into the ER.  The irregular beats lasted for no more than a couple of minutes, while the tach was for no more than 15 minutes.  On top of this, numerous "pulse-checkin episodes" also were taking place.  I wore a Holter monitor again and it picked up some irregular activity.  Fortunately, a family friend is now my Doctor and he has explained all of this to me.  The PVCs are real - but in of themselves are not dangerous.  In addition, I have found out that I also have PACs, and these are the ones that raise my anxiety, as they seem to make my heart skip for a few seconds.  If I am understanding everything correctly, the PVC is the "thump" and the PCA is the "skipped beats" that sometimes can take your breath away.

Needless to say, as hard as it is to know, these will not hurt you.  I have lived through the continual checking of pulse, constant bp monitoring, being afraid to exercise, etc.... and it is aweful.  However, each of us have to understand the harmless nature of these things and need to understand that with proper diet, social habits, and a right frame of mind, these things can't hurt us.

A few items that I know trigger my irregular beats: a bad night's sleep, alcohol, high amounts of caffiene, for some reason - heartburn, and decongestants.  But the biggest - STRESS!  At my second ER visit, my very understanding physician told me to look in the mirror at my pupils.  As you can imagine they were HUGE as as a result of the adreline rushing through my system becasue of the panic episode.          

I hope and pray each of us can get a handle on these things and enjoy our lives.  
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Avatar_n_tn
hey, i;m wanting to no, why tachycardia, if anyone is having chest pains and their arms hurting?
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Avatar_n_tn
I have suffered from extra heart beats for years, but was told that they were harmless. I recently suffered a really bad episode where my heart went totally out of rythmn and was beating in my neck for about 25 minutes. I felt totally exhausted and contacted my cardiologist. I wore a holter monitor for a week and during this time had a much shorter episode that only lasted a couple of minutes. This was picked up by the machine and I was told that I was having extra beats more regularly and should go on medication and that my blood pressure was high, but didn't say it was something serious. I was put on bisoprolol but within 3 days was itching from head to foot. It also made worse the feelings of lighheadedness and nauseau I had been having. I saw my family doctor who told me I had 5 beat tachycardia coming from the venticular part of my heart. She then told me that if I ever had an episode that lasted more than 10 mins I was to call for medical help. This totally freaked me out and I rang my cardiologist. She put me on propranolol and has told me to work up from 10mg twice daily to 40mg daily by the time I see her next week. When I asked her what was wrong with me she was very vague and said it was just that I was getting more of the extra beats. I told her what my FP had said and she said that I was getting extra beats that were coming in cuplets but to try not to worry. I think she is trying to protect me because I am a very anxious person. I am now sitting paralysed with fear waiting for my heart to go into one of its irregular beatings. I am female aged 57 and have hot flushes and sweating but thought this was part of the menopause. Has anyone else had these symptoms and do they kill you?    

      

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Avatar_n_tn
I only just found out I had a form of tachycardia this morning.  I had palps so bad I thought perhaps I was about to stroke or have a heart-attack.  I went to the ER and had an EKG and various other testings done on me.  When it came down to it, the doctor told me my heart was fine "essentially."  When I got the EKG results this morning from their office it stated I had "mild sinus tachycardia."

I'm pretty relieved reading these forums that this isn't something that's terribly life-altering or life-threatening.  I have mild high blood preasure which I'm controlling through the usuals of more oatmeal, green tea and excercise although I do get the occasional spike.  I plan on seeing my doctor Friday and asking about my options as far as beta-blockers go because it appears that's the avenue most traveled for my problem.

You guys are great though, happy thanksgiving to all of you!
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Avatar_n_tn
I don't know that much about Tachycardia except for the fact that I have it. My cardiologest put me on some super drug I didn't feel comfortable taking because of side effects. I talked to my family dr and he said that you can safely us ativan to keep your heart rate in check. I take it 3 times a day, and I'll take an extra one  if I get an episode inbetween. 10 min after you take it it's like nothing happened. my heart would beat up to 153bpm the ativan keeps it down around 110 to 120 I can live with that. When I get an episode of tachycardia my left arm hurts no one can seem to explain that to me. My cardiologist says I'm way to youg to have tachycardia I'm only 33. sinus tachycardia will not kill you but if you don't control that heart rate you will damage your heart.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have suffered pain in my left arm and shoulder before I knew I had anything wrong, but my doctor said it had nothing to do with my heart without even examing me! Since I have VT I seem to have been having the pain more often but he hasn't changed his opinion. Seems to think it is to do with digestion.

Can I also ask do many people here who have VT also have a hiatus hernia?  


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Avatar_n_tn
I have svt and am on toprol xl which controls it most of the time. My advice to anyone that experiences a rapid or skipped heartbeat is to get checked out for any underlying heart problems first and then if you have excessive stress then learn to deal with it or it will get the best of you.stess is a killer.
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Avatar_n_tn
POTS-like symptoms definitely can come and go.  My resting heart beat is around low-mid 60s (mornings) to low-mid 70s (afternoons), but when I stand up, it will immediately go up 10-12 beats per minute.

Sometimes, it will stay there--  around 12 beats higher, more or less.  But sometimes, it will increase to 20-22 beats per minute higher than previously after around 10 minutes of being upright.  I often feel sharp pulses of pain with each heartbeat when this happens.  If I bend over with my hands on my knees, or lie down supine, the pain will go away in a few seconds, and my heart rate will decine rapidly by about 10 beats per minute or so.

The textbook definition of POTS is an increase of more than 30 beats per minute after 10 minutes of upright posture.  I don't quite meet that threshold, but I'm at the "high-normal" end, and there's no doubt that my pain is associated with this elevated heart rate.

It definitely is cyclical.  I'll go a month or two when this hardly ever happens, and then have a period of a few weeks when it happens very frequently, sometimes almost immediately after standing.  This has been going on for two and a half years. I notice PVCs more during these "high" periods too.

I had series of stress tests, holter, event monitor, etc., nothing found.  And most importantly, my heart rate recovery after the stress was ok;  so I don't worry about the problem that much.  But it is uncomfortable when it happens.
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Avatar_n_tn
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