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Episodes of extreme racing heart ... so scared, please help!!
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Episodes of extreme racing heart ... so scared, please help!!

Hello everyone! This is my very first post of my very first day on this website, so I hope that I'm welcome.

One thing that I most definitely am is scared.

For my whole life, I've been a pretty healthy person, but for the past four months, I have not. I have started to experience episodes of extreme tachycardia that terrify me beyond all imaginings. When I'm at home, everything is perfectly normal and I feel healthy and happy. My heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. I sometimes feel a skipped beat, or my heart goes a little faster than it should, but there's nothing I really worry about. Then I leave the house, and everything changes. My heart races with a vengeance, and I freeze up with fear.

I took a walk around the neighbourhood today. A walk. I was going at a brisk pace, but it was hardly strenous activity. My heart should have been motoring along at about 120-130 beats per minute, right? Wrong. How fast was it going? Try 170 peats per minute. Yes, you read that right. 170!!! It only used to go that fast when I was sprinting on the treadmill at top speed! I measured it with a heart monitor I bought, so it wasn't just bad counting, either. Admittedly, it wasn't speeding that fast for the entire time I was walking ... I found a range of 130 to 170, but it shouldn't have been anywhere near that higher extremity. And then I wonder what would have happened if I had ignored it and started to run or something. It would surely have gone up to 200 or more, and I surely would have collapsed or died. I feel I've had a near brush with death, and that I must careful to avoid another. It wasn't just today, either: lately, whenever I am out of the house for more than a few minutes, whether I'm walking, shopping, or just standing there, the same thing occurs. Whenever I exert myself to the slightest degree, my heart rate shoots to the moon. I have become too afraid to do anything. I am so scared that one day my heart will go so fast that it will exhaust itself and just stop. My mum says I should take that risk and live normally, but I don't want to die so young!

I've been to the doctor and had an ultrasound done of my heart, so I know there's nothing structurally wrong with it. I've also been on a 24 hour Holter monitor. I went walking while I had it on, and it showed my heart racing up to 184 beats per minute, which was terrifying then and now. The doctor said I shouldn't worry and this won't kill me, but I don't believe him. It's been happening more often since I talked to him, too, so I'm going to go back, but in the meantime I'm all alone and so scared. Does anyone have any idea what could be causing this? My mum says it's anxiety, but I don't see how mental worries could cause such extreme physical symptoms. But I have no more idea of what could. I don't know what to do. I have hardly left the house for the past two weeks due to my debilitating condition. I stopped going to university. I stopped going to see my friends. I cancelled my hair appointment, and I look like a scarecrow. I feel like I'll never be able to enjoy myself again. Please help! Please!
Tags: racing heart, Anxiety, help
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1124887_tn?1313758491
Hello,

Thanks for a very good and detailed description of your problem.

I support the replies from Thinline and Itdood 100%. Your problem is not cardiac related, it is anxiety related. And you will NOT die from high heart rates. Explaination further down in this post.

The problem is, that high heart rates from anxiety stacks on top of high heart rates from exercise. And - if you are aware of your heart rate (and afraid of it) this easily increases your heart rate by 50-60 BPM. I can feel this all the time. To illustrate, I can present my "experiment" on this.

On my exercise bike a week ago:
At 120W work load: Heart rate (measured by my dad, relaxed) 125 BPM
At 120W work load: Heart rate (measured by myself after provoking anxiety) 170 BPM

At 150W work load: Heart rate (measured by my dad, relaxed) 140 BPM
At 150W work load: Heart rate (measured by myself after provoking anxiety) 180 BPM

At 200W work load: Heart rate (measured by my dad) 170 BPM
(didn't try a test measuring by myself at this work load).

As you can see, my heart rate with anxiety on low exertion was similar to my heart rate without anxiety at max workload.

You should accept this, because it's important.

You cannot die from high heart rates due to anxiety. In fact, the only high heart rates that are dangerous, are ventricular arrhythmias (that appear in people with severe heart diseases) which, at a heart rate >170 would make you pass out anyway, so this is not the case here. You simply have sinus tachycardia due to anxiety and over-focusing on your heart rate.

If your heart rate goes so high it can damage your heart, it will be blocked from reaching your heart's main chambers. Don't worry about this.

You should start your exercise at extremely low work load. Buy an exercise bike, and start slowly in your living room while watching TV. And most important, you should sell your heart rate monitor immediately. It does nothing but creating anxiety and driving your heart rate higher. You should listen to your body (breath, exhaustion) instead of monitoring your heart rate. If your body still want to keep going, it's no problem to exercise. Your heart is structurally OK and you should trust your doctor / cardiologist.

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12 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello. You sound terrified but don't be. I often have a RESTING pulse of around 160, with any exertion it easily goes over 200 so I try never to exert myself because such a fast pulse truly is very scary and it feels awful. It's rather exhausting too, obviously you would get tired from a fast heart beat.

It truly sounds as if you have agoraphobia, this is a fear of leaving your house, as well as the fear that you are going to have some kind of "attack" when you leave home, mostly its the fear of having a panic attack while you are out. With you its probably the fear that you are going to get a racing pulse, this is causing the panic attack which is shooting your pulse rate up. Agoraphobia can be treated with medication. I would definitely go back to the doctor and tell him about the fear of leaving home.

Please go have it seen to, I haven't left my house alone for nearly two years because of agoraphobia. This obviously puts a huge strain on my family as my husband has to do everything for me which involves leaving home. It's a nightmare and it sounds so stupid, but it's a very real condition and it has terrible consequences if left untreated.

The other thing is that you mustn't worry that you are going to drop dead from a racing pulse. It's uncomfortable, makes you feel dreadful, but is not fatal, unless you have some undiagnosed cardiac problem, but just dropping dead really really is not a sign of impending doom. I've lived with a tachy for 13 years and I'm still alive and kicking, so that is one less thing you have to worry about. Speak to your doctor about your fears.

Hope you feel better soon, and DO NOT just ignore this in the hopes it will just go away. Get help and it most probably will go away.

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995271_tn?1408549100
Anxiety can certainly drive a pulse that high.  You probably should stop hyper monitoring your pulse.   You can deal with the anxiety, there are plenty of meds to help bridge you through this crisis mode until you can overcome it.  It'll take some work.   A Beta Blocker would be a good place to start.
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1101325_tn?1321256673
hi there I am 32 and I have svt I am 19 days away from my 2 nd ablation in 6 months , I also was told by my cardio that  not 2 worry when yer heart races up 2 what yers is mine gets up 2 250 in a svt or i can be doing nothing and my pules is 110,and i have panic attacks that sound just like yer saying yer episodes r like....plzzz take a deep breath and relax, yer not alone and nor r u going crazy...lol I take xanax thats how bad I have become, i am so affaid of going any where cuz of the svts i do take meds but sometimes i can feel like im going 2 have , when i have them i almost pass out then my heart shoots up and flip and flops or so it feels, prefectly ok my doc say, sure dont feel like it should be prefectly ok...lol hang in there and mayb get some releif in an anxity med, untill u get it under control or a better understanding what is going on with yer heart! till then hope i was a help .....
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Avatar_f_tn
Oh my, I made a dreadful comment on my previous post!  I said....but just dropping dead really really is not a sign of impending doom.....well dropping dead is beyond impending doom, what I meant to say was that a racing heartbeat is not a sign of impending doom!!!

Sorry about that, it was early in the morning here in South Africa and I had only been up out of bed a short while when I typed that. Pity coffee gives me palpitations, it certainly looks as if I could do with a cup to rev up the brain so early in the morning!!!
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1298588_tn?1330322581
Thank you so much everyone! The simple fact that I'm not alone makes me feel immediately better, as so many people I know just don't understand what I'm going through, which makes it that much worse. It's so good to know that there are others who have similar problems, and I'm not just going mad! It's even better to hear from other people's (and other people's doctor's) experience that this won't kill me as easily as I think. I always thought that if your heart was already beating fast enough, any amount of exertion would push it over the edge so that it would not be able to go as fast as it needed to and would stop. I guess I need to get my medical facts straight ...

I'm going to start thinking about my anxiety and the sorts of things that make me nervous, too. Agoraphobia seems to describe me quite well right now. It surprises me how much nerves can affect the heart, but I guess it makes sense, in the end! I'll talk about it to my doctor, and if I need medication, so be it. I don't want to fear life any longer, as I said. I've suffered from depression for quite awhile, even before these problems started, so maybe that is a factor, too. Wouldn't it be something if all the physical problems that scare me so much originate from that very fear?

And don't worry, Thinine ... although I had to read your sentence twice, I figured out what you meant! Thanks for the correction, though. That's cool that you live in South Africa, by the way ... somewhere I've always wanted to go!
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520292_tn?1232039450
atenolol 50 or so mg , xanax 1mg , problem solved  =)
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm glad you're feeling less lonely now that you've heard from a few people, it always helps to know you aren't the only one.

You really should come visist South Africa, it's an awesome country. I know we have a terrible reputation regarding crime and that sort of thing, and yes, we do have lots of crime but if you are cautious and aware you will be fine. Some areas are very bad, but I think every country has it's good and it's bad bits.

Summers in SA are brilliant, the weather, the lifestyle, the people - what more could you ask for?
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1124887_tn?1313758491
Hello,

Thanks for a very good and detailed description of your problem.

I support the replies from Thinline and Itdood 100%. Your problem is not cardiac related, it is anxiety related. And you will NOT die from high heart rates. Explaination further down in this post.

The problem is, that high heart rates from anxiety stacks on top of high heart rates from exercise. And - if you are aware of your heart rate (and afraid of it) this easily increases your heart rate by 50-60 BPM. I can feel this all the time. To illustrate, I can present my "experiment" on this.

On my exercise bike a week ago:
At 120W work load: Heart rate (measured by my dad, relaxed) 125 BPM
At 120W work load: Heart rate (measured by myself after provoking anxiety) 170 BPM

At 150W work load: Heart rate (measured by my dad, relaxed) 140 BPM
At 150W work load: Heart rate (measured by myself after provoking anxiety) 180 BPM

At 200W work load: Heart rate (measured by my dad) 170 BPM
(didn't try a test measuring by myself at this work load).

As you can see, my heart rate with anxiety on low exertion was similar to my heart rate without anxiety at max workload.

You should accept this, because it's important.

You cannot die from high heart rates due to anxiety. In fact, the only high heart rates that are dangerous, are ventricular arrhythmias (that appear in people with severe heart diseases) which, at a heart rate >170 would make you pass out anyway, so this is not the case here. You simply have sinus tachycardia due to anxiety and over-focusing on your heart rate.

If your heart rate goes so high it can damage your heart, it will be blocked from reaching your heart's main chambers. Don't worry about this.

You should start your exercise at extremely low work load. Buy an exercise bike, and start slowly in your living room while watching TV. And most important, you should sell your heart rate monitor immediately. It does nothing but creating anxiety and driving your heart rate higher. You should listen to your body (breath, exhaustion) instead of monitoring your heart rate. If your body still want to keep going, it's no problem to exercise. Your heart is structurally OK and you should trust your doctor / cardiologist.

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1472995_tn?1286913070
hey, my name is Katryna and id like to tell u my story. then maybe you wont be scared, when im in my house everthing is fine almost, then i go outside and try to walk tow blocks to my moms and my heart starts racing so fast i feel it palsating in my whole body i get this butterfly feeling on my high stomch and i feel as if i cant walk any longer or maybe something will happen,, example, of passing out on the sidewalk.. not really sure why i have fearfull thoughts and cant make them go away.. i know nothings seriously wrong with me.. so whas the big deal with walking 5 min by myself after i have done it a billion times before... PANIC ATTACKS! thats the answer.... so i started talking a herbal medication you can get this over the counter clled st johns wart.. its all natrul you dont get a high feelig off of it but its sopposed to help with a positive mood and attitude.. its helped me a little i think but i dont take them as i should i wont take two at a time.. im fearfull of any kind of pill thats y i havent been to a phyciatrist because there going to try and put me on meds.. and i dont think ill be able to handel it... but this has ben going on for almost 2 months now and everyday i seem to be doing better than the last...
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Avatar_f_tn
You have gotten some really good input here from everybody.  And I must agree, this truly sounds like anxiety to me.  I did the same thing to myself about a year and a half ago.  I was in the ER 5 times in a period of 2 months.  You have gone to a cardiologist and ruled out any problems with your heart.  You are not going to drop dead, your heart is ok.  I know that it's very scary when your heart is going crazy and beating so fast...been there bunches of times.  You need to believe that it's anxiety doing this to you.  I said the EXACT same thing you did...how can anxiety be causing my body to do all this??  I didn't believe it at all.  But the last time I was in the emergency room a nurse asked me when I was going to stop it.  I looked at her like she was nuts.  Then she asked me if I thought about my heart most of the time and sat around and waited for it to do something weird.  The answer was yes...that was exactly what I was doing.  So I started forcing myself to go about my business and kept myself busy, trying not to focus on every little hiccup in my heart.  I have tried really hard to quit taking my pulse..I was doing that constantly.  And it's been hard.  But it has helped and I am better.  Another thing that may help you is a beta blocker.  Ask your doctor about it.  Good luck and hang in there.
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Avatar_m_tn
Wow do I know what you are going through.  Sounds to me like you have a bad case of anxiety.  The key phrase was the one when you mentioned that then you left your house things acted up.  I know this feeling all too well.  I would have problems shopping, driving and doing anything in large crowds.  My heart would start racing and I would get skipped beats and flutters.  Not fun.  Anxiety can do a number on your body.  I have lived with anxiety on and off for years.  But I am much better now.  You have to change the way you think.  This is not easy.  Medication might help but there are so many side effects.  I know it is not easy to do but you have to try to get rid of the doom and gloom feelings you have.  Even though you t hink you are not thinking them you ARE.  Laughter is the best medicine they say and it was helped me tremedously.  Cut down on sugar and carbs and watch your diet.  Diet is key to getting well.  Do some research and talk to your doctor about getting some good supplements.  Whole foods ones are best.  Good luck and hope you feel better soon.
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3177898_tn?1344391652
I had the same problem and I am 36 asian at race,,i had heart beating so fast just like horses running in me and makes my arms feel weak..i counted within a year it happened like 5x..my last was 2 months ago and i was so scared..so this month i talked to my doctor about ti and she is sending me to a cardiologist..it scares me so bad everytime it happened and hopefully I'm ok.
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