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16779876 tn?1451396461
I've been (and still am) having frequent heart-rate changes - is this normal?
This has been going on a for a few years now. I'll be doing normal things that I do, reading, driving, watching TV, walking, etc - and suddenly, my heart is beating very heavily and stumbling over beats. I can feel it through out my entire chest and sometimes it makes it hard to swallow or breathe. Then, like a flipping switch, I'm normal again. It leaves a pain, though, just below my collar bones behind my ribs, and it lasts for the hours afterwards. I'm never sure what to make of it, and anyone I've asked has either told me that I'm just stressing too much (which, at the time that this happens, is never the case) or that they have no idea what to make of it. Honestly, I'm not sure what to do about it. Advice?
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995271 tn?1463927859
Going by symptoms or feelings is futile.  The only way I was able to figure out what was going on after many other attempts with doctors was to be placed on a holter monitor.  

This is a monitor (portable EKG) you wear that records the electrical signals coming from the heart to detect and record rhythm problems.  There are different types.   They are small, you can wear it on your belt.  There are 2 or 3 leads on your chest.  If you experience this very regularly, a 24 hour loop style will catch it.  most cardiologist offices have these and they are easy to get, but they aren't that great.  I've found that the office people who maintain them do not do a good job so the dates and times are not set correctly.  So you record in your log that at 8am you felt the issue.  They look through the loop and find nothing wrong at 8am and dismiss you, all the while the time was set wrong in the recorder.  

I know this from experience.  I know the sensations well.  When they were captured on a cheap loop recorder I was told they couldn't find anything.  Then I had the same sensations during a stress test and we all saw it on the EKG live.  They were premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) for me.

Cardiologist offices can't afford to buy and maintain the good recorders.  Their tech staff just doesn't have the expertise.  The good recorder can be worn for a long time, for as long as needed, within reason.  They often can offload their data via cell phone network to the company that maintains the equipment.  CardioNet is the one I used, it was great.  I could also push a button during events that marked the event in the strip for later review.

So, if you think you'll need a longer term holter monitor, go to a cardiologist that can support the long-term monitors.  If you think you can catch it in 24 hours, a cheaper cardiologists office holter might suffice as long as they have the time stamps set right in the device.

If they catch certain types of rhythms on the holter they probably will refer you for further study, like a stress test, nuclear stress test if you have family history or risk factors for heart disease like smoking - diabetes - weight.  then fo from there.
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