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Hiatal Hernia/GERD and PVC's/AFIB
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Hiatal Hernia/GERD and PVC's/AFIB

Hi there - This is my first time posting here. I've been doing a lot of reading on the forum over the last couple weeks and I thought it was now time to post something to see if anyone has any suggestions.

My story: I am 38 years old, generally very healthy, and active. I run, play sports, and enjoy life. I have had a heart arrythmia for approx. 20 years. Something called SVT. I control it by taking the beta blocker 'Atenolol.' It is generally under control and haven't had many episodes over the last few years at all.

In January I had an episode of Atrial Fibrillation(AFIB) that lasted 24 hours and went to the hospital and eventually had to have a cardiaversion to stop it. That worked. Heart went back into normal rhythm

Since that time though I have had many, many PVC beats that have been really bothering me. Lots of them each day, and just not being comfortable. I can't exercise because they happen when I exercise.

Here's where it gets interesting from my perspective. It was recently discovered that I have a small sliding hiatal hernia and GERD. Now I can tell you that almost every single time I have a PVC it is after eating or if my stomach is compressed.(like bending over to pick something up.)

And when I think back to my past SVT episodes years ago almost all of them happened after bending down or eating. Example. I once picked up a golf ball of the ground. When I stood up I immediately went into a very fast SVT episode.

I have had EKG, Echo, Holter monitor, etc... All it picks up are PVC's which my cardiologist says are nothing to worry about. When I mention the hernia thing to him he does not know of any connection between the heart rhythms and the hernia. he does think there might be a connection between my vagus nerve and my heart rhythms since these rhythms happen after eating or if I compress my stomach which might upset the vagus nerve. But it doesn't seem like there is much that can be done about it according to him.

Just saw a GI specialist and same deal....he doesn't think there is any connection between hernia and the heart stuff. He also said "maybe it's the vagus nerve, but you don't want to take that out."

I'm at a loss for what to do next. I'm miserable. I have lost 20 pounds because I worry about eating and it affecting my heart rhythm. I am a healthy person, but this heart/hernia thing is driving me nuts. My lifestyle has completely changed in the last 5 months since the AFIB episode since I started getting these PVC's.

Would love to hear any advice or feedback anyone has. I know there are many people who explain similar stories on here and I'm just wondering if there is ONE success story out there of anyone at all that has come back from this and figured out what to do?

I truly appreciate you taking the time to read this and respond.

Thankyou!
20 Comments Post a Comment
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1807132 tn?1318747197
My first question is do you have an accessory pathway svt as well as afib?  Afib is also labelled svt but is a very different kind of svt then accessory pathway svts.  Accessory pathway svts are pretty easily fixed and have a very high success rate with low complication rates.  Afib isn't as easy to fix.  Ectopic beats, pacs and pvcs generally arise from an irritated heart.  Your afib episode likely irritated it.  Problem is it can take a long time for the heart to settle down and for the ectopics to stop bothering you.  I had an accessory pathway svt all my life and before I had it ablated I was having frequent episodes that led to me having daily symptoms with my heart even without an svt episode.  This is because my heart was just really all sore from the svt.  It took a year and a half for it to fully calm down.  I still get ectopic beats but I don't get them so much after I eat any more or after I exercise. They have gotten pretty random and are barely noticeable.   I highly suggest considering getting your  accessory pathway svt corrected if you have that.  Svt episodes and ectopic beats feed off each other, get rid of one and you will lessen the severity of the other.  Ectopic beats however are hard to fully be cured so your best bet is to try and treat the svt if you can.  As well address any gerd you might have maybe trying antacids before you eat to see if that helps.  Unfortunately most of us have to learn to live with our ectopic beats but I would say the farther away you get from an svt episode the less intense your ectopics will feel.  Also try to ease up your exercising and see if that helps the heart to calm down but you do have to be patient.  The heart is a very strong muscle that can handle a lot and keep on ticking as well as heal itself pretty good but it does take time for that to happen so just try and take it slow and hopefully your ectopics will ease up for you some.  Take care and keep us posted on how you are.
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Avatar m tn
Thanks for your kind words and helpful information.  I am actually unsure if it is an accessory pathway svt.  It has been so long since it has been caught on any sort of scan/monitor.  Like I said in my original post, the SVT itself has been controlled very well with atenolol.  The AFIB episode I had is the only one I've ever had that I can remember.  
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Avatar m tn
But the PVC's are daily and often.
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1569985 tn?1328251082
I have GERD and afib and I believe it is indeed caused (at least some of the time) by anything that irritates the vagus nerve, and therefore the heart.  I have had some luck eating smaller, less spicy meals.  I went into afib once after a huge meal, another time after an icy cold drink and salad, another time carbonated beverage and 2 pcs of chocolate.  You might want to try a PPI like Prevacid for your GERD.  These have helped me.  There is a Canadian website called afibbers.org that actually lists a diet and tips for people who have "vagal afib."  They state that there are different types of afib.  You might want to check that out.  Meanwhile, avoid chocolate, caffeine of any sort, try antacids when you think trouble is brewing.  I think this is a highly understudied phenomonen.  Good luck, let us know how you make out.  And no, the doctors don't seem to have a handle on it.  I was told for years I had panic attacks, which I now know were undiagnosed afib episodes.
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Avatar m tn
thanks Delta!  I appreciate it.  Very helpful.  Also, where on that afibbers site do you find the vagal afib information?
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1569985 tn?1328251082
It's not an easy site to navigate.  I will go back and see if I can find it, perhaps this evening, but if you keep looking around, you should be able to find it.  As near as I can recall, try looking under "Research Papers" and then "types of Afib."  There is a whole list of things to try.  Good luck
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Avatar m tn
GERD and AFIB are documented to be associated, regardless of what GI and Cardiologists may think--the research is clear (references available, as well as my own review article). I am not a medical practitioner, so work with one about my suggestions; they are FYI only. I take a proton pump inhibitor regularly and elevate the head of my bed 9" (the whole bed, not just the head) above the feet. That helped a lot. Also, keep a log.
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Avatar m tn
GERD and AFIB are documented to be associated, regardless of what GI and Cardiologists may think--the research is clear (references available, as well as my own review article). I am not a medical practitioner, so work with one about my suggestions; they are FYI only. I take a proton pump inhibitor regularly and elevate the head of my bed 9" (the whole bed, not just the head) above the feet. That helped a lot. Also, keep a log.
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1569985 tn?1328251082
Robert has very good advice.  I also elevate the head of the bed with a wedge pillow under the mattress, so it's a gradual slope.  It does help.  Also, don't eat too soon before laying down ( allow at least 2-3 hours), and don't bend from the waist soon after a meal.  Icy cold drinks or carbonated drinks are also a no-no for me  I really wish you good luck with this. Don't give up --  It can be managed. DD
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Avatar m tn
Thanks guys.  Robert, what are the references you speak of?
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Avatar m tn
I had a episode of Atrial Flutter in January of 2008.  When I went to the hospital they ended up using Amiodarone to convert my heart to Sinus rhythm.  After that I was put on an 150 mg of Toprol XL per day.  When I take the 150 mg of Toprol XL I have no problems with the Atrial Flutter, but I have constant pvc's throughout the day.  If I lower my dose of Toprol XL the pvc's stop, but I return to Atrial Flutter in a few days.  My doctor has recommended an ablation to resolve the Atrial Flutter.  After the ablation I will be able to take a lower dose of Toprol XL or maybe none at all.  In turn I hope the pvc's go away an stay away.  
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Avatar m tn
I have had these symptoms for years and have had ENOUGH. I finally decided to go at it from a stomach stand point instead of heart.After some research I decided to take stomach enzymes,specifically super digestive enzymes from GNC.I take two after each meal I eat,which would be 4 per day.I also bought some aloe Vera juice from Amazon and took 1 shot glass twice a day on a empty stomach,until the 16 oz. bottle was gone.I've been taking the enzymes for three weeks,as well as taking my heart meds and have seen a great improvement.Hope this helps anyone out there.I definitely know what your all going through.    
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Avatar f tn
I have started the AFIB thing really bad!!! And recently discovered I have a hernia and a tear in my intestinal sac.  
I do believe they are connected!!
I go for surgery soon and will keep you posted!
Also have had the tests for heart issues including the invasive tests on my heart!  No issues!!
Has to be related !
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Avatar m tn
i am sorry to hear about your AFIB. i get lots of pvcs, pacs, and I also have a hiatal hernia, GERD, acid reflux, belching, gas, all of it. like many of us here, I have lost 12 lbs in the last month, from not eating some of the things that I used to like eating, and being upset all the time. I can't help it. my doctors also dont think there is a connection between GI, vagus nerve and arrythmias. I wish they would let up for a significant amount of time so I could sort of know what it used to be like. it's been said here that almost everyone gets some ectopics, we just feel them. How I envy the people who do not feel them. just try to hang in there, and I take much comfort in reading about others like myself, and the wonderful informative replies that I see posted. lots of luck to you.
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257552 tn?1404606154
I think I posted this before. I showed the emergency room doctor this article. My current outbreak of irregular heartbeats is profoundly related to stomach issues as everytime I swallow food my heart beat rhythm goes nuts. It's discussed in the following article, with some people having it so severe that they pass out when swallowing or belching.

"Cardiac manifestations and sequelae of gastrointestinal disorders"

"In addition, it has commonly been observed that patients suffering with gastrointestinal disturbance suffer from cardiac symptoms whose aetiology can be attributed to their primary gut problems. Recent evidence has shown that this is a relatively common manifestation and that the incidence of these secondary cardiac complications has been underestimated in patients with gastroenterological disease"

http://bjcardio.co.uk/2009/07/cardiac-manifestations-and-sequelae-of-gastrointestinal-disorders/
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Avatar f tn
I'm new to AFIB but it literally scares the sh1t out of me I have to say. I have myself worried sick that I'm going to die young and never see my kids grow up etc.,etc :( Here's the interesting thing though, I also have a large Hiatal Hernia and like you, usually the irregular heartbeats tend to happen when I bend to get something or lean forward! It's very strange and I really do firmly believe my AFIB is caused either partially, (or wholly) as a result of the hernia. I'm 38 years old, I don't smoke or drink and I cant think of any reason other than the hernia, as to why I've ended up with this, (I am a little overweight but I know plenty of people much bigger than me that don't suffer with AFIB :( ). I was put on Aispirin, (is this normal??) until such time as I see a specialist. My episodes usually only last seconds but they are fairly regular, (every few days). Apart from one episode that lasted over an hour. It was horrible and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy
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Avatar m tn
I am here to tell you there is definitely a connection between a hiatal hernia and Arrhythmias...

I am now 42 and have been battling Afib and SVT for over 6 years... I am here to tell you I healed myself 2 years ago...

I will give you my story in retrospect but did not understand what was happening along the journey. Hopefully this helps someone.

About 8 years ago I went to the Kentucky Derby and got food poisoning. It was the worst experience of my life. I was up for 24 hours violently expelling what was left in my body out of both ends. I thought I was going to die.

In retrospect, I believe that was when I created a hiatal hernia from the violent vomiting I experienced.

2 years later I had my first episode of atrial fibrillation after drinking all day at an outdoor event. The episodes kept coming.

I examined the triggers for awhile to determine why I was having episodes and finally realized it was all triggering from either eating food or after drinking alcohol, coffee, etc... I KNEW there was a link between my stomach/esophagus area and my AFib.  

However, I went to every top doctor in CA including several top notched cardiologists and stomach doctors and all of them would scratch their head and say "That shouldn't happen..." I told them they were wrong.

The defining moment was when I went to a stomach doctor and got a scope as I was having terrible acid reflux. The scope determined that I had the hiatal hernia and GERDS. In fact, the Doc said I had level 1 of Barrett's Esophagus (Esophageal Cancer). This was when I was 38. Of course, this was very concerning to be so young and have such health problems.

My doctor simple prescribed me a PPI and said "This should solve the problem". I have never liked medication as I feel it addresses the limbs and not the root. I asked him if I needed to change my eating habits and he said "Nope, just take this pill and eat what you want". This didn't make sense to me. So I decided to do some research.

I started taking Aloe Vera juice 3x a day. I figured if Aloe Vera heals sunburns and cuts, why wouldn't it heal the inside of my body? Tissue is tissue right?

Well I am not a Doctor, and this is not advice of what you should do, but it worked for me.

I started taking the Aloe, adjusting my diet (cutting out spicy foods, not eating so late, etc...) and within months, my Afib symptoms subsided...

I had to cut out coffee and alcohol as well... well for the most part. Anyway, the story didn't end hear. I had been really good and then went to a bachelor party in Vegas. Famous last words...

I experienced a MAJOR Afib episode after drinking to much in Vegas and my episodes starting coming back and in a big way and I couldn't manage them like I used to.

I decided to go in to get an ablation done. While I was in the procedure, they could not induce an arrhythmia so I actually came out of surgery and they had done nothing. They said they could not find any faulty pathways.

This is the moment I realized for sure that my issues were triggered by my stomach/esophagus issues.

I had just watched "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" and I got a revelation. If my afib was being triggered because of irritation in my esophagus (caused by the hernia), then if I juiced (only) for 3 weeks, wouldn't it allow that area of my esophagus to heal since acid wouldn't be constantly eating at my esophagus? Made sense to me... and if I could allow the area to heal for at least 3 weeks (since I noticed that cuts, surgeries, sutures, etc... seem to heal in about 2 weeks) maybe the agitation that was causing damage to the vagal nerve (which intervates (joins) around the esophagus and controls heart rhythm)... just maybe, would go away.

I juiced for 3 weeks. Just fresh, organic juices. NO FOOD.

I haven't had an Afib attack in 2 years.

I whole heartily believe in juicing, and especially for those who have GERD, hernias and AFib (or any other arrhythmia). It may not work for all, but it sure is worth a shot and I believe you will see some sort of benefit from it.

Now, just cleansing wasn't the only solution. I have had to maintain a relatively good diet, not eat late, drink limited amount of alcohol and coffee... but overall, I am living a good life with no symptoms. I still juice daily and use Aloe Vera juice after every meal and especially before bed time. I can actually tell when I start over burdening my stomach with foods and eating habits and can ratchet back to not have trouble. Listen to your body!

So here is the simplified version:

- Created hiatal hernia
- Stomach acid began to erode the lining of my esophagus and keep it in an irritated state
- Afib started occurring I believe from the irritation eventually invading the vagal nerve that intervates (joins) the esophageal area where my hiatal hernia lives.
- My goal was to heal that area of my esophagus. Juicing and a modified diet has done that.

Hope this helps!

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Avatar m tn
I HAVE HAD AFIB ABOUT FIVE YEARS THRU NOT ALL THE TIME LOOKING AT FIVR BOX AND ABLATION NOT SURE WHICH WAY TO GO. ANYONE WITH FEED BACK WOULD APPRECIATE IT.
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Avatar m tn
Hi Rantaman - what type of foods did you use in your juices?
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Avatar f tn
I have the same thing Barrett's esophagus, hernia, but mine are pvc. I know for sure there is a correlation because if you read about the hiatal hernia it says it affects the vagus nerve. Mine kind of got under control with nexium, but lately I been having lots of pvcs and it makes me scared. When they discovered my hernia it would be my heart racing after eating and I would have like panic attacks and I would ended up at the hospital. They went away went I started taking the nexium and watching what I would eat and eating small portions and even small glasses of water when I would drink. I hope we can find out what kind of juicing and aloe Vera you were taking please. Thanks
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