I'm a 24-year-old female. I recently had a 48-hour Holter Monitor to test some palpitations I've been having. The results were that I have some benign ectopic heartbeats. I've been having anxiety over my heart for about 10 months now. Also, I'm not too sure if it's my anxiety that's causing the palpitations or if it's the other way around... but they have been improving quite a bit. I think since I've heard the good news that it's a benign issue, I haven't been focusing so much on my heart.
I am wondering if it's alright to drink alcohol. I know this might make my ectopic heartbeats more frequent, but will it do any damage to my heart or anything? I think my fear of drinking all stems from the initial anxiety attack I had last June. I happened it after I had about 1 1/2 beers. It's hard for me to drink even one for fear of another attack and worry about my heart. I'd like to be able to have a few drinks to celebrate the end of my first semester of grad school without fear or worry! :)
I am also wondering if these beats will ever go away for good. I guess knowing they are benign has in itself reduced the frequency of the beats. I'm just wondering if this is something that can subside or if it will be something I have to deal with the rest of my life.
The ectopic beats that you refer to are likely known as premature ventricular contractions (PVC's). PVC's are common and occur in almost everyone at times. They are a benign condition which require no specific therapy. For patients who are sensitive to the palpitations beta blocker medications can be helpful for some patients. As for alcohol, if your heart has normal function, alcohol in moderation should not result in any damage to your heart (in fact, the American Heart Association actually has some recommendations regarding the use of alcohol which can be found on the website).
This is an Expert forum where Cardiologists will provide an answer. Other members (nonprofessionals like me) can also answer, but we often hesitate because we don't want to interfere the doctors advice. I would for future questions recommend the Heart Rhythm or Heart Disease community where you will get more opinions from us patients :)
But since you are asking for an answer and the Cardiologists probably have a lot of patients these days, I can try to provide some thoughts. I also suffer, and before, strongly suffered from heart anxiety / cardiac neurosis.
Hard to say if the anxiety provided the ectopic beats or opposite. I would believe; the anxiety made your ectopic beats more noticeable, and the anxiety you developed both made them increase in number and strength. We all have ectopic beats during a 24/48 hour Holter test. I don't know where yours did origin (atria or ventricles) but it doesn't really matter.
I rarely get ectopics after a beer or two, probably because my heart rate increases and that gives the ectopics less "space" (in the EKG). This is however different from person to person. Some get a major flare-up from alcohol. Some feel that alcohol is calming and a relief to the ectopics. I can't give you any specific advice, but I don't think that alcohol will damage your heart any more if you have ectopics (we all do..) than if you didn't. This, of course, is given the assumption that your ectopics aren't caused by changes in the heart (but I guess your cardiologist already ruled that out). Everything in moderation is possibly the best advice ;)
No, the ectopic beats won't go completely away. It's a little like asking: Will I never get hiccups again? You will, but it probably won't bother you. Because you aren't afraid of it. Ectopic beats are (almost) normal heart activity. We all have them. What you must practice is to accept them as benign and don't let your world fall apart just because you get some "skipped" beats. After some time you will probably lose interest for them, and your life will be easier.
Good luck, and you are always welcome to the Heart Rhythm Community for further questions :)
I have periods of ectopic heart beats that make me feel strange, I also have a feeling of air in my left side of my chest, however if I have a few beers it stops, I think it is the alcohol relaxing me and I feel less anxious, this sounds like I'm an alcoholic, I only have a couple of beers and it sorts me out. I know I have been advised to stop drinking and know that alcohol can bring on pvc's.
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