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A True Story about PACs, skipped beats
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A True Story about PACs, skipped beats

I am going off the normal path here and posting a comment rather than a question.  The reason is this; When I started having my skipped beats I did the “wrong thing” and looked up my symptoms on the internet.  I found that to cause more anxiety.  Instead of searching for symptoms on the Web I started searching for forums about skipped beats.  One night I was having a bad bought of skipped beats and luckily found this website and forum (which is an amazing thing).  As I read through all of the Posts with people who were having the exact same symptoms as I was having, it gave me a tremendous amount of comfort.  I wanted to share my story in hopes of helping others, as others have helped me.

I am a 37 year old male with a history of Panic Attacks and Anxiety (since I was age 18).  I have never used medications and have learned to deal with the Panic and Anxiety through talk therapy, my faith in Jesus and good supportive people in my life.  I am very active, fit and in good health.  There is no family history of heart problems, but a lot of history of Panic and Anxiety and Depression.

I have a very stressful job and unfortunately have seen a lot of horrible things.  About 2 years ago I had eaten a bunch of Pizza and felt really bloated and gassy.  I noticed I felt like I needed to burp, but could not get a burp to come out.  I felt my pulse and noticed every 20th beat or so I would feel a quick “skipped beat”.  I thought this was odd so I called my wife, who is a Nurse.  She said they are common but to come up to the hospital and check them out.  I went up to the Hospital and my wife put me on a 12 lead.  This showed a few PAC’s which my wife said was normal.  

I never thought much about them and the sensation would come and go through the last two years.  I never had any pain or symptoms.  I pushed my body pretty hard physically and never noticed any change in my physical fitness.  

3 months ago I noticed the skipped beats were back. This time I began to get very anxious about them and the more I worried about them the more they happened.  I saw my General Doctor who said they were stress related (the last 6 months had been very stressful for me).  We did a few EKG’s but nothing showed up.  Now I began noticing skipped beats throughout the day.  Some times a few and some times I would have long runs of them.  I could feel the “skip” and I started feeling the “pause”.  They became more intense and more frequent and they had me very concerned.  I would stress about the skipped beats all day and they would last sometimes all day long.  Sometimes I would have a skipped beat and have a massive adrenaline dump (sometimes just a small adrenaline dump).  My heart would begin to race (only to about 120 a minute) and skip even more.  My stomach became tight, I was really gassy, and the muscles in my neck, shoulders, and temples began to tighten.  It was just very random when I would have the adrenaline dumps with the skipped beats.

I saw three other doctors who all said the skipped beats were just stress and not dangerous.          

On January 29th the skipped beats were really bad and I went to the Emergency Room.  At this point I had stopped drinking coffee and I was even afraid to work out.  The ER doctor was great.  The “skipped beats” were caught on a monitor and I was informed they were PAC’s (Premature Atrial Contractions).  They did all the blood tests, a chest X-ray and an Echocardiogram.  I was told my heart was 100% healthy.  The ER doctor put me on a 30 day event heart monitor and I was to follow up with an Electrocardiologist.

During the next 30 days I began the following things: seeing a talk therapist again, Yoga, relaxation techniques, walking more in my faith, found this great forum and read a lot, talked to people about my issues, and began taking 20 mg of Celexa.  I noticed the less I stressed about the skipped beats, the less frequent and intense they got.  I would still get the skipped beats and the adrenaline dumps but not as intense and they would not last as long.  It was hard at first to accept that these skipped would not kill me.  The more I came to accept these PACs were not going to kill me, and trust God the easier it got.  It still was hard and it’s very scary when they happen a lot, but I noticed they began to get better.

About a week ago I turned in my Heart Event Monitor and saw the Electrocardiologist.  He was great.  He sat and listened to me and answered all my questions.  I had about 3000 PACs and 25 PVCs in the 30 day period (.1% of my total heart beats).  I was told most people have PACs and PVCs and 70 % of people can’t feel them.  I am just the unlucky one who can feel them.  I was told the PACs and PVCs are benign and the hardest part is to just learn to live with them.  I was told you can have thousands a day and be fine.  It more about the uncomfortable feelings (symptoms) of the beats rather and the PACs causing any harm.  I was told even taking Beta Blockers at this point were not necessary.  I was told the Beta Blockers would help if the PACs were so bad they were affecting my quality to life.  I asked the Electrocardiologist if there was anything I should not do.  He replied “Meth” with a laugh.  I am not a smoker, but he did mention smoking can cause PACs.  He said I can do anything and eat anything.  He recommended not to drink caffeine (just because it could make the PACs worse).  I was told a cup of coffee a day is OK, but stay away from energy drinks (because they are just overall bad for you).  I was told I can workout as hard as I want and my heart is perfectly healthy.

I have come to the acceptance that these PACs are just something my body does and I will have to learn to accept and live with.  Stress about the PACs will not stop them and only make them worse.  I have to trust the doctors and trust other peoples stories.  I know these PACs are irritating and are scary, but many people have suffered with them for 20, 30, 40 years and live long and healthy lives.  Yesterday I had another string of the skipped beats for about an hour (probably about 100 of them).  They did not feel as hard or bothersome as they have in the past.  I kept telling my self these are benign and not going to kill me.  As I stopped paying attention to them they soon went away.  I tell myself I have had very bad episode of the skipped beats in the past and they have not killed me or done any damage to my heart.  They are just uncomfortable and a nuisance.      

I hope this Post can give at least one person comfort.  I want you to know, you are not alone and you are going to be OK.  You can email me anytime if you have any questions.  Take Care.  
7 Comments Post a Comment
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212161_tn?1410016711
awe than you for your story, it always helps to read about others that is having the same thing you are .

I to have pacs and been going threw 6 months or more of them, lasting for hours on hours. very scary. but had all heart test and my cardio Dr says I am fine

so I am going do like you and tell myself they have not killed me and they are like  hiccup and they will go away.

prayers yours stay calm and thank you again.  Heart
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1464004_tn?1384139333
I've had PVCs PAC for almost four decades now and for the last five or do SVT. I'm still here and your post says it all. Thanx
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you so much for posting your history and your thoughtful conclusions.
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1569985_tn?1328251082
I think of my irregular beats as "speedbumps."  It helps minimize the panic.  I have heard them referred to on this board as "hiccups."  Either way, as you pointed out, when we stop worrying, it helps calm everything down.  Thanks for the post, good reports always give all of us on this board hope.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Thankyou for posting your story. Frequent palpitations are very scary. Mine have caused me huge anxiety, to the point of having panic attacks and expecting to drop dead any minute. I have found great reassurance in reading this forum and the All Experts Cardiology forum. I have found guided meditation and mindfulness helpful too. I would definitely say that if you can't improve the palps (with diet changes or lifestyle changes), then work on the anxiety.
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Avatar_m_tn
Excellent, thanks. Also, for anyone with new pvcs, pacs who've had tests and are otherwise ok... Consider not taking beta blockers if optional. After my first episodes with pvcs, did not back fully off caffeine, etc. right away and had some intense ones, so doctor gave low dose metoprolol. Worse than pvcs because I had side effects... And absolute worst were periods of depression! And not just mood swings, but clinical type. Bad news. No wonder some people do themselves in. Finally stopped drug and pretty much back to normal ... But off caffeine and alcohol.
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212161_tn?1410016711
I ve had pacs for 30 years , I take  BB twice a day it has helped me not to be in the nut house , so if a BB helps I say take it nothing wrong with taking them.

been on the same one for 30 years almost and never up the dose.

I still get days of them but , if not for BB they would of been much worse
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