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Heart Palpitations While Sleeping
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Heart Palpitations While Sleeping

I have had fequent heart palpitations for about a year and a half mostly while sleeping.  I have had a picture taken of my heart, running test and a take home monitor that all checked out clear about a year ago.  A concern of mine that I have is about once every month and a half I will fall asleep and I will awake by one sudden intense palpitation that I would compare to being zapped by a defibulator.  It shakes my whole body and jolts me awake seemingly the second I fall asleep.  When it occurs it will seem to happen 4 or 5 maybe more times throughout the night waking me up like I am being shocked.  It has just as of recently been happening more frequently maybe twice a week.  I do have a prescription for 25 mg of Toprol that normally does the trick but sometimes does not.  My question is should I go back to the doctor and is this something that is dangerous and should be concerned with?  I still have frequent heart palpitations at night that are more of a nuisance than concerning.  I feel fine during exercise and exercise frequently (5 times a week with about 20 mins of cardiovascular).  Never passed out during exercise or feel dizzy though I have felt like I might pass out a few times while at rest.  It has never happened though.  My cholesterol has been checked out ok.  In good shape 6'1, 210 lbs with very low body fat.  Palpitations see to run in my family.  My dad had severe benign palpitations while at rest but never had the sudden jolt palpitation that I experience.  If I take a sleeping pill (Lunesta) I never have any palpitations or this experience.  
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230125_tn?1193369457
Palpitations are almost always benign.  In a typical cardiac work up for palpitations, an EKG, Holter, echo +/- a stress test is done.  It depends on your risk profile.

If you had work up one year ago that was normal and nothing has changed, it is unlikely that there is significant risk.  If you have questions, it is appropriate to go to your doctor and ask them.  
There is nothing that you mention above that sounds high risk but your doctor is best suited to answer that questions.
16 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for your response.  Do you know what could possibly be causing this to happen?  And this seems to be a normal palpitation response?
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230125_tn?1193369457
I have met very patients that could say i have palpitations when .....

hormonal changes (premenstrual, menstrual, post menopausal)
stressful times
caffeine

There is usually no predictable pattern.

I haven't heard anyone say it happens right before sleep before.  For now, there is no way to know or test for the mechanism.

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97628_tn?1204465633
Actually I used to have this happen all the time. I'd doze off and get awakened by the heart palps within moments of falling asleep-it was like a jolt and almost as if my heart was "wound up too tightly" but then mine started running fast- then suddenly went back to normal.
All my tests were relatively normal. Holter showed it was speeding up in the daytime too, I just didnt notice it as much.
I was later diagnosed with thyrotoxicosis, don't know if that had anything to do with it.

It does ruin sleep. I am very sorry it happens to you.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Michael,
I experience the same thing with the jolting. I haven't been able to sleep more than 2 hrs at a time for several years now even before I had a hysterectomy 2 yrs ago. Back in 2001 I had the worst case IBS pains and went for a Sigmoidscopy. Soon after that I began to get PVC's really bad. The doctor put me on Topril XL (beta blocker) and stayed on it for a year, but my heart thumps became worse so I took a zannax off and on for some sleep. I didn't become addicted to them cause I'm still using them when I'm desperate. When I read the side effects of the Topril I found that they could make me worse, so off I came and got off all caffeine. It worked, well until recently. This last year my IBS became so bad I had 2 ambulance rides with sweaty and wanting to pass out and the worst pains ever. I had my worst just before Christmas and decided that was it, no more fatty foods, dairy or beverages of any kind with going 3-4 miles on the treadmill a day. I was doing fine until Monday when I got a flu bug that had the worst vomiting and diarrhea ever. I just started to eat last night and had some soup. Then I started getting my heart thumps back really bad. I had to take a zannax to sleep and woke up fine until I ate some more soup this morning and boy they started in again bad along with some reflux. I took an anti acid and it went away for the day. I got them back again tonight and trying to do some research and find some answers to this. I want to get healthy again, just don't know what I can eat anymore. I'm 57, and trying to lose weight at 168. I don't want to take anymore drugs for anything as I'm on lisinopril (high blood pressure) and lovastatin for Cholesterol. I haven't had a jolt in a while for sleep but something very strange lately is like a zap in my head just before I want to go to sleep. Haven't even wanted to go there yet....sorry this is so long, just wish luck to you....oh and all my test come back good too. Get off the drugs if you can, you sound healthy...
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Avatar_n_tn
Michael,

I experience the same thing. Just as I'm falling asleep, I suddenly wake with my heart racing, and out of breath.

I've often suspected sleep apnea. Sometimes I think I just forget to breathe as I fall asleep. Could that be the cause of your problem?

Best of luch,,,
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677868_tn?1226345653
Hi Micheal J. McWilliams,
I am 19 years old, female. I have had severe palpitations, I have woken up with a pulse of 160 or more and have been rushed to the hospital for it, . My attacks have never been bad until this year. Although I have suffered from these attacks since I was 8, but it has gotten so bad where I dont even leave my house anymore. They dianosed me with Panic Disorder and also Syncope. My symptoms occur all day I feel extreme fatigue, I get weird feelings, insomia, muscle weakness, I wake up in the middle of the night up literally shaking to death. Sometimes I wake up and feel like I ran a mile because I will be out of breath and my I feel my heart beating out my chest. At night I will feel so fatigue that I cant even move.  I've also get irritated for no reason. When I try to sleep on my right side I start getting weird feelings and feel like my body is tripping or something. I rarley leave my house anymore because I never feel good. I feel like Im in a daze all day and I'll get heart fluttering where I feel like my hearts skipping beats. I have insomia I cant sleep at night.  I also get pain in the right side of my head. I dont drink any caffine or drink alcohol. I have a pretty healthy diet, and I work out daily or try to it depends if I feel good or not. I have no stress in my life since I rarley leave my house anymore.  I've gone to every doctor, My Petrician recently put me on anti-depressents, which only made me feel weirder and the side effects were so bad I didnt see why she would put me on something like that. I dont believe that I'm just crazy or a hypocondriac. My parents have even witnessed my attacks where Im literally shaking to death and they too think something is seriously wrong. Ive gone to a  cardiologist and she told me that nothing was wrong with my heart and put me on bata blockers and blood pressure pills, because my blood pressure was too low. During my stress test it was 85/56 and my pulse was 120 starting time. I dont know where else to turn to, so I decided to look online. I discovered Pituitary Gland and now think I might have a hormonal problem. If you have any suggestions on what it might be or doctors that can help me with this I'd really appreciate it !
Thanks so much for your time,
Britt
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Avatar_n_tn
Michael,

I too, have these symptoms.  I have PVCs and arrhythmias, which are always worse when I first lie down.  I can't sleep until they subside. The duration of the palpatations varies from a few minutes to a couple of hours.  I also get the jolt sometimes - only when lying down.  It makes my breath shoot out and my whole body contracts.  It is very disturbing and definately can ruin a good night's sleep.  I just changed to a new cardiologist I will see next week as my current doc is doing me no good.

You are not alone.  (Small comfort, I know.  I would rather be well than understsood!)  Good luck in your pursuit of wellness.
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376186_tn?1219283105
I too have had problems with PVC's when I lie down which is so bothersome. I take Toprol XL 50mg but have not seen any improvement at all. I do not consume anything with caffeine and I try to live a healthy lifestyle but still have thousands of PVC's...apparently my heart is structurally normal. These PVC's cause a lot of anxiety but I hate to take anything for that b/c of the risk that I will be addicted. I am 62....they seem to be getting more numerous as I get older. Wish there was something that I could do to reduce them!!
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Avatar_f_tn
Michael and others,

I am a 37 yr old female who has suffered from palpitations for many years!  I have wore the heart monitor for 24 hrs and they said that I suffer from Panic Attacks!  I have been to the ER numerous times before I wore the monitor and they always diagnosed me with Sinus infection!( I know sounds weird) I don't know what to believe anymore! You hear on the news about women and Heart Disease and not being treated for such. I too have been woke up with these and feel as though I was gonna die!  I have literally felt my heart stop and start back with a big THUMP!  My face gets flushed and now I think it is making my "Normal" BP to be alot higher than it normally is.  I went to the doc 2 wks ago and they said my BP was high and felt my pulse.  Usually my pulse is fine only occasionally gets high but that doesn't bother me, what does is the fact that I am now facing the rest of my life with these paralizing symptoms!! Does anyone think that this could be due to Thyroid problems, low potassium or magnesium? I have read other articles that suggest that these can cause problems with palpitations.  It does help to know that I am not alone in this battle but wish there was a magic pill or something that would make them STOP!!
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166039_tn?1256426467
I have been having the same issues with all of this and it actually started 2 months after I had a baby. Been dealing with this for 16 months.  I didn't have the palpitations at first just chest pain and shortness of breath. Now I have them quite often especially when I lay down or after a hot shower. I just had a complete heart work up, and blood work up and everything was fine. My palpatations seem to be worst when I am resting.  They have me on Toprol and magnesium.  I also take fish oil for the heart. I also have mitral valve prolapse which they found in all of this.  I am frustrated as well. Been to the ER numerous times and finally got a cardiologist that just said it might be INAPPROPRIATE SINUS TACHYCARDIA. I was told by another doc that it was NEUOCARDIOGENIC SYNCOPE, but that doc didnt even want to do any heart tests and based it on my passing out one time, so I got a second opinion.  But no one can answer me why all of this is suddenly happening. I personally think it is hormonal related.  I am going to keep searching until I figure out what it is. It is quite scary and frustrating.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Read your side effects on the Toprol. If I remember right it says could make palpitations worse......It made mine worse and was driving me crazy especially keeping me up. I finally got off it and I'm doing so much better. I've had a few times with them and found that when I was having reflux it brought them on. I took some prilosec and they went away. Stay off caffeine also!!!! Good Luck to you all, I know it's annoying....HUGS
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792040_tn?1237586038
Dr., this is a repost but pretty much covers my concerns/history. I would appreciate any thoughts you might have. Thank You in advance for reading. Appreciate it very much.
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Sent by Cynthia101

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Cynthia101
Female, 56 years
Dunnellon - FL
Member since Mar 2009

less than a minute ago
Hi and thank you for your concern. I've posted 3 times since finding this wonderful site and my last post was filled with a lot of confusion and anxiety.
The problem is: Neither at the hospital or from my cardiologist is anyone telling me what the problem is and this is what the problem is!

I don't know which post of mine you read, but my most recent was under..rapid heart beat.

In short: a couple of weeks before seeing the dr. I experienced fluttering when I layed down to go to sleep. Some nights it was very irritating and I could not get any sleep for days on end. Pounding and beating hard and irregular, but only when I layed down to go to bed.
Went to dr. Ordered tests and first he asked me to wear the Holter for 24 hours. I returned the next day and was awaiting the results when the nurse came in and said we just called an ambulance and dr. is on the phone, he wants to talk with you. He said since it was the weekend coming up, he was not comfortable sending me home with the results from the Holter.

The nurse told me it was very serious and that if I were to try and drive, I probably would not make it to the hospital. She scared me half to death.

So, I went to the hospital. On the way, they said my heart rate was good, steady...no problems. I got to the hospital and had the first EKG and it was normal. They asked me why I was there and I explained. I was placed on no medication, just layed in the ER for 9 hours until they had a room.

Next day I had the Heart Cath done. That Dr. told me I was wide open, heart looked just beautiful and wished he saw more like mine.
Second day in the hospital and still no meds and every EKG was normal. In the hospital, I experienced NO fluttering while laying flat and I actually slept for the first time in over a week.

That night, my Cardiologist came in and said everything was fine and what I had was NOT life threatening and did I want to go home after I rested for 5 hours due to the Heart Cath. I said yes.

I went home that night and really haven't had many problems. Fluttering once or twice a night...nothing to speak of. A lot of my heart racing I'm used to due to anxiety and panic attacks.

Now this is the main problem....I returned to see my Dr. for a follow up appointment and had another EKG done and it was not bad but said it was not good either??? He then proceeded to ask me how I was doing on the Beta Blocker. I said, Dr., you released me with NO medication. He said, oh, I probably forgot or something to that affect.
I then reminded him what he told me in the hospital that what I had was nothing to be concerned about, and he said, well, it really is. He said.."It can cause SUDDEN DEATH"...I said WHAT???? He said you have to go on Coreg and then in two weeks you'll probably need to go to Shands to have another Cath done but it's more extensive. It maps out the areas of the heart.
The nurse at THIS office (I know her Mom, she's a client) mentioned something negative regarding taking the Coreg. She and the other nurse looked very confused as to why I was prescribed it and showed their concern.
The problem I have with taking the Coreg is, I want to be sure that this Dr. is diagnosing ME and not someone else. If the results of the Holter were mine. Because like I explained, in one breath he told me I was fine, nothing life threatening....and THEN, 3 weeks later, he told me that my condition could cause SUDDEN DEATH.

I am more than confused. I am angry!!!
The problem I have is, I did ask him if I had Atrial Flutter or Atrial Defib and he said yes. And every EKG and I was monitored and spoke to all the nurses for 2 days and they told me every one was a normal EKG. Also, the Dr who performed the Heart Cath also did not seem concerned when viewing my history.

I am going to another dr and getting a second opinion after having the tests I need, minus one Heart Cath.

So, if my post didn't make any sense to you, it's the same way I feel right now. Very confused. The Dr. contradicted himself twice while trying to diagnose my condition, which tells me it's time to look for another Dr.
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