Hi Doctor, I am a 50 year old female, and likely about 50 lbs. overweight. I've been having PVCs since I was 18 years old. Lately, they have changed a lot. I recently took a holter monitor test, and the cardiologist who read the results said that of the 30+ incidents I recorded, only 5 of them were "real" skipped beats. I was also informed that "he could not help me." I went to an urgent care center, and while there, they stopped and all blood work and EKG came back normal. Upon returning home, they started up again.
I am menopausal and do get a lot of severe hot flashes, Estradiol doesn't really help. This is my attack:
First I will get what I now call a "hard" skipped beat or two, it's so intense that it actually jerks my entire body, like an electrical charge is going through it, and straight to my brain. Then I get a constant belching attack, it doesn't matter whether I've eaten food or not, and also the time of day has no significance. I belch over 10 times per minute. This will continue along with the skipping. After the initial onset of the attack, I break a serious sweat and the blood pounds in my head and ears. At night when I lay down to go to sleep, blood is pounding in my ears, and also when I get out of my car after driving, and when I get up from a sitting position. But the one that bothers me the most is when I try to go to sleep. Eventually, either I fall asleep or it levels out and stops.
I have an apptl. with another cardiologist on Sept. 3rd. I was wondering if perhaps you can give me any insight as to what might be happening to me so I don't keep feeling like I will die at any moment of any given day?
I have seen people before with similar symptoms and there is often not a clear explanation for why they feel this way. It is often chalked up to anxiety or increased awareness of your own heart beat. I think the problem is that when people become worried about their hearts and "sudden death," they start to feel every beat and wonder if it is normal. It is common for me to an event monitor on people that are absolutely certain they are having an arrhythmia and when I look at the monitor they are normal rhythm every time they report symptoms. Other times they report symptoms for only a few of the events they actually have.
Again, for unclear reasons other than just saying "hormones," these symptoms are around menopause, pre menstrual or post menstrual depending on the person. I would not be surprised if your cardiologist doesn't have a definite answer but they will likely check to makes sure you have normal heart and sometimes do a stress test. If they are all normal, they can tell you that your risk of events is low but they often can't change the symptoms.
I am just a layperson, but I have the same symptoms you do. For what it's worth, my heart has checked out okay except for PVCs, PACs, and not very often afib.
The belching or even hiccuping during an episode seems to be pretty common. I am not sure why, but there is some connection between the heart and GI system, for example throwing up might cause heart stuff.
I think it's appropriate to ask the cardiologist to do an echo and a cardiolite stress test to evaluate your heart. You are old enough for that. Then you will know for sure what is going on (and I suspect your heart is fine, that you are "just" having these rhythm problems, which are not life threatening.)
I put "just" in quotation marks, because I know how upsetting they are.
When I first developed this problem, my cardiologist told me physical fitness had nothing to do with it, and getting in better shape would not help. According to my current cardiologist, they now think that it will help. Like you, I am about fifty pounds overweight. I find that walking every day is helping me to slowly lose weight.
Thinking that this might improve the PVC, etc. situation has helped me keep up with walking and eating just enough less to be slowly losing weight after many previous failed attempts. I started walking for five minutes a day, and am now up to 40 minutes. I've lost about 10 pounds in three months.
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