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Avatar universal


Two pieces of medical history before my question. I have anxiety/panic disorder(3yrs) and sinus bradycardia. From time to time I feel fluttering sensations in my chest and pauses where it seems like my heart stops and the recharges it self, all lasting half a second to 3 or 4 seconds. Anyways I recently have had a set back and had an intense panic attack. Since then I have been in a world of anxiety. I'm a runner, but during times of anxiety it is tough for me to run. I recently noticed the last few times I ran, I felt the flutters and pauses during my cool down. Not so much while running, but during my cool down. Never before have I felt these during exercise only at rest. My first question is does this sound like anything serious or is it benign. Second question could there be a direct correlation between these new symptons, new in the sense that never felt before during exercise and my heighten state of anxiety lately, i.e. could my constant focus on my heart during recovery causes these symptons. Maybe how I'm breathing causes them. Any insight would bring much relief. My EP tells me not to worry. Thanks.
19 Responses
Avatar universal

Palpitations are the sensation of one's own heart beat. It is very likely that your symptoms are related to your anxiety disorder. I agree with your electrophysiologist. At the very least one may consider a holter monitor test which records the heart's electrical activity for a24 to 48 hour period. However, I think in your case this test will be low yield. I would recommend seeking help in trying to control your symptoms of anxiety which will likely also help with your palpitations.  

Thanks for your question,

Avatar universal
Recently I completed a 2 day holter monitor test which showed about a thousand PACs/Pvcs. My symptoms were similar to yours and the test did not 'pick up' any unusual activity when I though my heart was stopping or pausing upon resting or falling asleep and I do have a low resting heartbeat in the 40s (brady?) in the a.m. and around 54 at a desk or other low level activity like what I'm doing right now.

My pvc and pacs have gotten more pronounced as my heart rate has slowed significantly these last three years.

Anxiety does seem to be at the root of it, though I did have my AV replaced at CCF in 2000 and have a mild Mitral and trivial tricuspid leak.

A bout of A-Fib in June did not help matters.

I'm  awaiting the results of a resting and stress echo performed Friday at CCF to determine if the increasingly worrisome (to me, at least) arrhythmia episodes are cause for more than a  nuisance concern.

Avatar universal
I do not notice/feel palpatations with my heart, but I do have discomfort with my left arm, most especially when I am under stress and have anxiety. My entire arm, especially my forearm, feels numb at times.  I tend to get very nervous at times and believe that not only does it affect me emotionally, but also physically. I am certain that it is my anxiety that is causing this physical discomfort.

I'm 23 and consider myself to be very healthy physically.  I've been very athletic, and doctors have always been impressed with my low heartrate whenever I have a physical check-up, telling me that I have a strong heart.  One even told me he's never heard a heart beat so strong like mine before.  

Well, to get to my point, should I be alarmed at my discomfort in my left arm?  Or, do I feel that just because my heart is very strong, and therefore, makes me even more sensitive to minor things that may be affecting my heart... ?

I would greatly appreciate any feedback/suggestions.. thanks.  
Avatar universal
I know what all of you mean when it comes to palpitations.  They can be a scary thing, and though I too have had anxiety disorder for years, they sometimes come when i dont seem to be anxious.  I have had a few tests and nothing significant.  My question to all of you is do you get the type of palpitations that feel like a fluttering or butteryfly feeling in your chest?  I occasionally get these, lasting briefly and then dont have them for weeks sometimes or more.  I get teh other type too, where you notice a short pause then two beats closer, but the fluttering is kinda different, almost feel it in your throat.  Also one more question.  Do you notice that when you are at the point of falling asleep, you seem to get palpitations?  I do alot right as Im falling asleep, but am not sure if it is the sensation im getting when nodding off which causes it or if it is an actual palp.  Anyway, these things seem to be normal and somewhat common, but its nice to share similar stories.
Avatar universal
I am a 28-year-old male sportswriter, relatively healthy, that has stopped smoking, drinking and caffeine in the past month, due to my growing problem.
In the past 2.5 years, I have experienced skipped heartbeats that have become more severe as time has passed... It varies in strength and is usually associated with heavy gas (belching), cold and clammy hands and feet, faintness, and pressure, like someone is poking a finger into my back, just behind my heart. I have worn event monitors and holter monitors with no results that are out of the ordinary, and my EKG, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure were great.
However, the skipped beats seem to get worse by the week.
During one hour, it ranges from 1-4 skipped beats per minute, other hours it doesn't skip at all.
My doctor feels that most of it is due to anxiety and he has placed me on Zoloft, but it hasn't started working yet.
So with that said, all I want to know are the following things:
1. What other heart tests can I have done (besides EKG) to reveal any potential damage, or something more detailed than just the sound of a heart skipping?
2. Should I exercise more or rest more?
3. Any medications I can look into?
4. Can anxiety alone cause the heart to skip more than three times per minute?
5. Can stopping smoking, drinking, etc. all at once cause "withdrawals" that can make my heart freak out? If so, I can deal with it, I just wanted to know.
6. Are there any foods that I need to stay away from or foods that can help?
7. Along with the Zoloft, I'm also taking a daily combination of asprin, garlic, Vitamin E and Hawthorn Berries supplements, because I heard they were good for the heart... Is it OK to take all of those? Are there any others?
Avatar universal
I am a 24 year old civil engineering student finishing this year and then going on to Dental School. I have had anxiety for 3 years. I had one panick attack while I was in a very stressful situation, and since then I have worried about my heart. I think about it dailey. Let me share with you my experience, if it helps at all.
Yes a change in life style can bring on palpitations. I guess the heart is getting used to beat in a different way.
I have felt everyfeeling known to man when it comes to my heart, and have never had anything serious. I have taken all the tests.
I have had tons of palpitations. My doc said it might be related to the aging of the heart tissue, he said don't worry about it (ya sounds simple).
A SSRI will be the best for you. I did Paxil, and it pratically saved my life, I felt so much better after about two weeks. But those first two weeks on the drug were terrible. I felt so sick, and so anxious. I was scared also about the meds (was I going to have to take it forvevere, how was it going to respond, was it going to work?)
Anyways they work great. You might want to try Paxil if Zoloft doesn't really work for you.
I'm taking Celexa now with less side effects ie weight gain and lower labido, but it doesnt seem to work as good.

You could get an Echo, that might help them see if ther are any abnormailites in the heart but that is so rare.
I take Vitamen E, Flax seeds, and eat tons of Garlic and dont seem to have a prob.
I stay away from high carbs and sugars, they seem to make it wors, and also Asparatine (nutra sweet), that stuff gives me palps bad.
Don't worry so much. You'll be fine. Stop smoking and drinking are great steps. Also you might want to go and get counseling for Cogitave therapy.

Avatar universal
Just wanted you to understand the doc won't answer your questions when you post as a comment -- you have to post as a question and it's difficult because so many people do and there is a quota per day. But try reposting as a question to get answers.

In my opinion, if I felt clammy and weak, etc., I'd be the b*tch from hell until I got the docs to look further -- i.e. i think an EP test is in order, but what do I know.

On the other hand, if it is any consolation, i've had horrible runs of palps, skips, stops, racing, irregular nightmare beats virtually every day -- sometimes lasting for hours -- for over 20years now. They still make me miserable but nothing bad has happened to me and I just had a thallium stress test that showed no blockages. So I'm trying to believe this won't do me in ...

good luck! ( funny, as I typed that I had several whammo, strong, irregular beats.. I am SO TIRED of this!)

Avatar universal
Hi Lynn,

I just finished reading your comment and I could very much identify with it. I just came in to get into this website because I was sitting there watching television and my palpitations were so bad, I thought if I got my mind on something else that would help. I've had these palpitations for over 20 years but never as bad as they have been for the last 9 months. Sometimes when they get really bad I just want to cry and scream. You'd think that they wouldn't scare me anymore but they do. I just wish there was something I could do to make them stop. I know part of the reason is probably because of my age. I am 45 years old and probably starting into perimenopause which can make palpitations worse from what I've read. I also think alot of my problem is anxiety related, I have always been an anxious type person. I take Xanan on an as needed basis and have samples of Toprol XL but am a little hesitant about taking them. I've heard mixed reactions about this medication. Anyways I've gone on long enough, but just wanted to say I'm relieved to know that I'm not alone with this lousy problem. Thanks, Deb
Avatar universal
I am 31, male, active, and was diagnosed with bradycardia in 1990, with infrequent irregular beats.  In 1995, after intense panic attack, developed flutterinig sensation, painful skipped beats (primarily felt as tickling feeling in throat), palpitations, and anxiety.

I stopped exercising and commenced panicking as a result of the irregular beats, even though my physicians assured me my condition was not life-threatening (after multiple check-ups, EKG, chest x-ray, holter monitor).  

I have since begun exercising again, mostly 3-4 mile runs, some lifting, and occasionally get skipped beats while warming up and, less frequently, while cooling down.  I have also kicked caffeine, started on magnesium, fish oil supplements, which i have found helpful.  I still drink socially (and even alone from time to time!)  

I don't have any groundbreaking advice for you.  Just wanted to let you know that your symptoms sound similar to mine, and much like those described by others on this helpful site.  Also, I encourage you not to be afraid to live your life, as the fear and apprehension that plagues sufferers of this condition is far worse than the condition itself.  Good luck!
Avatar universal
Just wanted to chime in. I'm a 30 yr old male, 5 10, 220. I'm slightly overweight and your typical Type A personality. Recently, I felt a flutter in my chest. My natural reaction was to take my pulse, and when I did, I felt my pulse actually skip. After learning what I could, I found that its not really a skip, per se, but a beat occuring so closely to another, then a pause, then a stronger beat to compensate. Needless to say, it freaked me out (Panic attack, Type "A", remember?). Im almost convinced that its now anxiety related (even though the first instance was not), because i can sit down, relax, and have a 70bpm heart rate....then if i take my pulse, on demand my heart races, and may skip. The simple act of taking my pulse triggers my anxiety. I've had panic attacks for 4-5 yrs now and have been on zoloft. I started to feel much better, even after stopping the medication. Once in awhile I would get a flutter (once a year?) and just dismiss it. Recently though, after the initial panic attack Friday, the flutter happens a few times an hour. And I find myself thinking about it from morning to night. I hate to say this, but the only day it didnt bother me was the day (Saturday) I had a few beers at a family BBQ (Another reason to think its anxiety).

Its good to hear we're all not alone....
Avatar universal
I have Mitral valve prolapse and at 34 look forward to my yearly visits with my cardiologist who has ordered many tests over 7 years since first diagnosed.
holter monitor, cardio beeper: 24 days, ultrasound, stress treadmill, tilt table test, trained ear to pick up my 2 seperate heart murmurs since birth as a premature baby, found in old records.
We gave up sugar, chocolate,caffeine, alcohol, fast food and started walking, lots of water and symptoms improved in that I did not have to take beta-blockers at 27. I do have xanax on hand for a funeral, dental visit etc.
My tests showed 2 ratings of heart murmurs, Numerous pvc's,pac's and a slow 42 resting heart beat. Positive reading on the Tilt table test : Cardiogenic Syncope which will cause b/p to run high or low and fainting in certain environments.
Chest pain was scary when hiking, So I do a treadmill. The book Confronting Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome was a helpful tool and starting a Support Club; http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/mitralvalveprolapse2
I too will have fear and anxiety. After loosing family members 10 months ago I started having gerd,heartburn,NUD.Read that many MVP patients have gerd. I am very sensitive to medications and having your doctors aware of this is helpful. Had a reaction of racing heart when trying H2 blockers and iodine injection before C/T. Too much weight loss lately , Seeking Acupuncture at the Intergrative Center ran by our Cardiologist as an additional tool.
Learning and Sharing................
Avatar universal
Thank God I found you all!! I have been in and out of the E.R. this past week 8 times! I had a panic attack that lasted days which resulted in PVC four to ten times per minute. Of course I dont belive that this is harmless like all eight docs said. I mean how can this be harmless?? I was assured this is benine. I teach areobics three times per week and walk 5 miles on two other days. How can this happen to someone like me?? I have been so sad that this has become a part of my everyday life. I hate it!! My pvc's are still going regularly after ten days. Have any of you had this? is this really safe? I now take zanex before bed time. All as this has done is made my pvc's a bit softer not so thumping. I am still getting one to five per minute. O if you dont know pvc is a skipped or premature beat, that feels like my heart is going to stop or speed up to death. I feel as if impending doom is upon me. The doctor also said on top he feels as if i may have some compulsive disorder on top of my already panic and anxiety. I was born with this disoreder, I remember my first attack at five years old. Please i will take any feed back at this point.
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