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Avatar universal

Ectopic Heatbeat?

Hi

Im a 46year old female and in tip-top shape. Whilst at the gym I was having an assessment when the trainer noticed my heartbeat was irrigular....to say I was panicking was an understatment! I saw my GP that afternoon and was sent to the hospital the next day for an ECG which confirmed I had "ectopic heartbeat" I was told to cut down on the coffee & alcohol, which I have done. What I want to know is how serious is this? and is it something that will gradually get worse? I only feel my heart "thumping" when Ive had alcohol and Im not breathless. What can cause this Ectopic heartbeat and should I be concerned? I had lots of blood tests, kidney, liver, cholesterol, thyroid and glucose all were fine but the glucose was only slightly high and I have to be re-tested for that. My dad had an irregular heartbeat but I dont think Ive had this for a long time as I had an op a couple of years ago and the anaesthetist gave me the all clear.I have a very social life so its hard to avoid alcohol totally but I only have a couple of glasses of wine....is that ok?

Thanks so much for your help.

Liz
36 Responses
239757 tn?1213809582
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
lizee,

thanks for the post.

1) What I want to know is how serious is this? and is it something that will gradually get worse?

Without knowing exactly what rhythm you had its impossible to say. From what you describe, you most likely have extra pacs and pvcs which in the context of a normal heart would not portend many negative consequences.  Alot of people suffer from palpitations from these heart beats. I would discuss the

I only have a couple of glasses of wine....is that ok?

Alcohol can precipitate abnormal heart rhythms. It depends on what you have. I would talk to your physician. Either way, moderation of alcohol intake is important for your overall health.

good luck
Avatar universal
Hi

If anybody else has been diagnosed with Ectopic Heartbeat I would love to hear your comments.

Thanks

Liz
Avatar universal
Hi

Thanks so much Pluto! Its nice to know Im not alone on this....it was such a shock for me because Im so fit and love all the physical sports etc. I know I was drinking too much alcohol and coffee! so I suppose in a way Ive been "shocked" into drinking in moderation......do all you other guys have a drink? The doc didnt say what type they were...just ectopic...Im going to see him soon so I'll ask. Thanks again.
Avatar universal
Be glad you do not have the pvc's, premature ventricular contractions, that takes you to your knees like I experience. Yesterday was a bad pvc day for me and today is worse.
I called the Electrophysiologists' office hoping that I could get a Holter Monitor installed today while they are so bad and all they would tell me is I have to make an appointment.  It's the biggest mess to try to get something done anymore. I told the scheduler I need the monitor now, today, not sometime in the future. No, by the time they install the monitor I probably will not be having pvc's or a lot less of them.

Glenn
Avatar universal
Glenn, Do you have pac's also? The reason I ask is that sometimes Ill have a premature beat and there is only a very very slight feeling of the following beat. Then at others I will have the skipped beat, a little longer pause and a big thump that I can feel in my chest. Have you learned to distinguish the difference in a pac and pvc? Or is it possible. thanks...
Avatar universal
Hi Liz, Your experience sounds almost exactly like mine. I was what i consider a moderate drinker. I also have been extremely athletic and work out religiously. But out of the blue one eveing I noticed these ectopic beats. So to make a long story short, I had an echo run, Holter etc. The cardio said the results all came back normal. But I do wonder if my bp of 145/95, along with the moderate drinking and heavy excercize, all 3 over a period of several years, has led to this condition. Actually I was fearful that i had a mild cardiomyopathy starting. Since then the ectopics have drastically diminished to around 10 too 20 a day from 100 to 200 which btw were occurring only in the evening after meals. ???
Avatar universal
drink green tea..its what worked for me and a few of mine friends..
Avatar universal
1.  Ectopics are generally benign, but should have a stress test or further tests to make sure.  After all you are 46, and it would be good anyway.

2.  PAC's/PVC's are found more often in athletic or well conditioned people.  Theory:  larger hearts tend to create foci where extra beats may originate.

3.  PAC's can develop into atrial fibrillation (mine did).  Mine turned into paroxymal atrial fibrillation.  A successful pulmonary vien ablation took care of the AFIB & most of the PAC's.  That is why you should have tests to make sure that AFIB is ruled out.  AFIB should be medically treated.

4.  Most people have PAC's and PVC's to various degrees.

5.  If you read the forum you will find that most on this forum either suffer from ectopics, tachycardias, atrial fibrillation.  But if you can't feel them and are not annoyed by them, then I would forget about them.  Actually by getting upset over this it actually exacerbates them.  If you look at your situation you might find a stressor that "put you over the top".  Ectopics are often signals that a lifestyle change may be appropriate.

6.  Women often find that they have more ectopics during certain phases of life.  I'm not a woman, but I would talk to a gynecologist about this.

Take care.
Avatar universal
This is funny...You know I've suffered from palpitations, PVC's or PAC's and PSVT since I was a kid...and I've never heard them referred to as "ectopic"...Learn something new every day! I quit drinking four years ago because of the problems it caused with irregular beats. I was always a light/moderate drinker...no problems with the booze...mainly beer. But sometimes I would feel my heart punding when I went to bed...Or I could wake up with my heart racing. Just scared me too many times. Since I quit, no problems. I still enjoy caffeine, because it's the only vice I have left! Sometimes it gets my heart going a little whacky...but I can live with it. I also stay in shape. I jumprope about a half hour a day and it really is the best workout I've found. I used to run, but my heart rate goes up so much faster with the rope...also, I never leave my driveway and it is a lot easier on the knees! Sometimes I miss the alcohol...but it got to the point where the hangover was so much worse than the buzz. Best to everyone!
Avatar universal
Hi Liz,
just wanted to say you certainly are not alone. Lots of people have ectopic beats! As many have pointed out, they are nearly always benign. Just see a cardiologist to rule out any heart abnormality - which I think is unlikely since you are in such a good shape - and then only resort to treatment if you develop symptoms. Symptoms and quality of life are generally the only concerns about ectopic beats.

Avatar universal
This is very interesting! Nice to know extrabeats might indicate good shape...Is it better if the heart is larger? Thought it was the opposite. I too have heard that sinus tachycardia is typical of healthy hearts...
Avatar universal
Thanks everyone, great to hear all your different stories. Yes when I'd had a drink, which was mainly a weekend thing, I could feel my heart thumping when I went to bed. Now instead of a bottle of wine I have a glass....big difference! Yes I have been drinking green tea (awful stuff!) and Ive cut the coffee intake too.When I dont drink alcohol I cant feel my heart beating...unless Ive been in the gym....so Im lucky in that respect. The GP did say I could wear the holter or go for the stress test but he didnt insist, so I'll just see what he says the next time I see him.Im sure their are loads of people out there who have this complaint and dont even know, like me I wouldnt have realised had it not been for the trainer at the gym.Yes I think lifestyle plays a huge part in this and I reckon my old heart was telling me to stop drinking so much...I mean a bottle of wine on Friday, saturday & sunday is pushing it a bit! and you know I dont really miss it....strange! I find that 1 glass of wine is enough.I dont know what its like for you guys over in America but here in the UK the doctors are really good (most of the time!) and you dont have to wait long to see one.

Cya

Liz
Avatar universal
Interesting comments about UK doctors. Here in America people love to bash socialized medicine, especially in Canada. Yet the Canadians I have spoken with have no complaints. Here in the States the cost of health care is going thorugh the roof. You have to have insurance, but if you don't qualify, either because of your job or your health condition, you are out of luck. The insurance companies dictate everything. My wife has Cystic Fibrosis. She is doing well, but we are starting our own business and nobody will underwrite us because of her condition. Basically it means that the people who need health insurance the most are the ones who can't get it. That is the problem with making health care a for-profit business. I can understand it if a bad driver has trouble getting car insurance, because driving is a priveledge. But to deny someone health insurance because they are ill is unconscionable! I hope the system changes here...I believe John Kerry will address the issue if elected. Hate to make this political, but President Bush has completely ignored the problem, except to give it lip service in the State of the Union address. Glad to hear your heart pounding has subsided for the most part. I hate being so aware of my heart beat. Stay well!
Avatar universal
Hi Jimmy

A lot of brits complain about the NHS here in the UK but you know I think its damn good!It must be awful to have to get health insurance....what on earth happens if you cant get it and you fall ill? it must be an awful worry........how can you put a price on your health! Sorry to hear about your wife's problems Jimmy...its no wonder your hearts pounding with all these worries!

Take Care

Liz
Avatar universal
I'd like to know what you guys experience in terms of PVC frequency. I too have had these since I was a child, however I would get them only once in a blue moon, or when I was really stressed out or drunk.

For the past three weeks I have them nearly non-stop. I
m undergoing all the tests and have yet to hear anything alarming from my doc, but I would guess a rough average of 7 PVCs per minute. More when I'm stressed, less when I'm not. I am on toprol xl now which greatly helps the anxiety associated with the increase, however doesn't do much to decrease the frequency. How often/many do you regulars experience?
Avatar universal
I sincerely beleive that pac's and pvc's are caused not only by alcohol and coffee, but many of the additives, preservatives and dyes found in processed foods.  A few bad ones in particular that I have found to cause mine are: yellow dye No.5, red dye No. 40, MSG, and aspertame just to name a few.  A real bad one for me is unbeleivably, decaf coffee.  There is a chemical in the processing of the coffee that does it to me.  When I was on the Atkins diet (which consisted of mainly meat (no cheese for me) I had virtually no etopics what-so-ever.  As I started to add back processed foods I started to have problems with etopics again.  There are even additivies in vitamins and not to mention that there is aspertame in foods that have real sugar already in them.  So, I watch what I eat very carefully and know almost within an hour if I have eaten something that will cause me problems.
Avatar universal
I have wondered the same thing....I currently too have been having a lot of palpitations.Actually this week I have been wearing an event monitor to catch my heart in action. I have had a couple of good days with only a few palps but it was acting up the beginning of the week, hopefully they will catch what is going on.

My episodes started in October and have been off and on since then.I can go a month or so no problems then boom they hit.So you are not alone.Just wonder why this is so???

I also agree with the perseratives, I have been watching everything I eat and noticed the other day after eating smoked fish my heart started to be jumpy........Like you say perseratives are in everything, uggh! But it is something to think about. Good luck to all who deal with these, you give me strengh and hope.
Avatar universal
Re. alchohol,

This is one I constantly battle with. I LIKE a drink or two of an evening - usually half to two-thirds a bottle of white wine. If I have a day of ectopic activity (say 50-80 single ones and a run or two of them), I can sit down of an evening and have a drink as abovementioned and everything settles down nicely with hardly an ectopic in sight! So much for alchohol causing ectopy (in my case anyway). OK, so I accept that the alchohol might well have an irritating effect on cardiac cells from a chronic point of view, but I sure do enjoy the RELAXING effect it has on me. So, on one hand I'd like to kick it into touch (and I could EASILY do that), but on the other hand I enjoy the (important) relaxation it affords me. A bit of a dilemna if you like.

BM (43 yrs young, 6'4" 230 lbs otherwise-healthy-heart anxious perfectionist!)
Avatar universal
Hi Bigmick

I like your attitude! I only really drank at the weekends and I really did enjoy sitting down in front of the t.v with a glass of wine, like you said nice and relaxing! but all this ectopic stuff has completely thrown me!The trouble is I'd start off with one glass and before long the whole bottle had gone(hic)so now I really do stick to the one glass but its so frustrating and when you go out and everybody else is having a good old time you tend to feel like the odd one out! I dont smoke, Im a fitness fanatic and I have a healthy eating regime, so would it really do that much harm to have a relaxing drink at the weekend.
Avatar universal
I first noticed skipped beats at age 37.  Now I'm almost 52 and have had some bad years with PVCs although I realize it's a benign condition.  1990 and 1991 were awful; I estimate I had at least 2 million PVCs in those two years combined.  

Most, but not all, years since then have been bad as well.  

The other day I gave blood and while the nurse was feeling my pulse, I made a silent "uh-oh" because I felt around 4 PVC's while she was checking the pulse.  She remarked, "Do you know you have an irregular heartbeat?"  I told her sure.  

I still don't know what particular food or lifestyle activity is doing this, but I like the advice about food additives.  That could be it.  


I seem to always get PVCs a week or two after I get on exercise kicks.  I used my exercycle around 8 or 10 times within a two week period, stopped for around 5 days, and then noticed I started having doozies like you wouldn't believe.    


Avatar universal
I am a 52 year old male in good physical and have been all my life. 4 years ago I started getting all kinds of "flub dubs" diagnosed as PACs. They started during a heavy set of inclined presses and went away w/in 1/2 hour. The frequency increased w/ time and generally hit me during heavy exercise. The local cardio doc started me on toprol. Sort of helped but knocked me in the dirt both libido and energy. Then went to flecanide, sort of helped but had some bad side effects; when exercising, my heart rate would increase to a certain bpm and then it would hit a wall. It felt as though someone was squeezing my heart. I had to stop all exercise imediately and slowly regain heart / lung function - pretty scary. This went on for over a year, very frustrating. I finally said the heck with it and stopped all meds. I continued working out carefully especially with weights - no more overhead lifts or any exercise that constricted my chest which would set off PAC episodes. I switched to more stairmaster and cardio, stopped all caffeine and minimal alcohol. The symptoms lessened, the cardio seemed to help as long as I didn't push too hard. I still got flub dubs after a meal and lying on my left side at night.
Then a BREAKTHROUH!! - I was reading various medical articles on the web and came across a series of articles on the incidence of mitral valve prolapse (and arrhythmia) and asthma and a magnesium deficiency; something like 80% of all MVP patients have a magnesium deficiency (in one particular study). After an 8 week course of 500 mg of magnesium daily, the symptoms subsided in a significant number of patients. I tried it; it worked!!! No flub dubs after meals any more; no flub dubs at 2:00 pm after a lunch workout!! No flub dubs on my left side. I have gone 2 weeks now w/ no serious flub dub episodes. I feel wonderful to be able to just lie on the sofa after dinner and just breathe and relax and no PACS!! I had to share this w/ the group. I'm sure it won't work for everybody, but after 2 years of frustration w/ toprol, flecanide, it was so simple and it worked.
Avatar universal
Great story! Glad you got rid of them. Here's something interesting...I was having some bad PVC's or PAC's for awhile...I started taking magnesium and they disappeared like magic! However, a couple of weeks later they were back. They were with me for more than a year and I finally gave up of ever getting rid of them...It was ALL the time. Then all of a sudden they went away about a year ago and haven't come back. I hope they stay away. Life is so much better without them. I wish I understood what makes them come and go. I guess if I did, I would be a wealthy man!
Avatar universal
I've given up trying to understand what makes them come and go also. Prior to the daily magnesium, when they were bugging me routinely, about a year ago, I paid a visit to the cardiologist where I was scheduled for a stress test on the treadmill. They hooked me up to the EKG and I started running as they cranked up the speed and the incline. 10 minutes later at full speed and incline, no flubdubs! I figured then they would hit me as I sat down after the stress test and wrong again, no missed beats. I couldn't believe it. There I was trying to make them happen and no luck. The next day and they were back. Frustrating.
They are not completely gone w/ the magnesium, but enormously reduced. I'm sitting here w/ a full belly after dinner and no flub dubs, I love it. I hope I don't repeat your rather interesting experience with the magnesium; I am so glad they are pretty much gone. I still don't understand what gets them going. Sometimes it seems like an anxious thought will trigger them; or is it the flubdubs start on their own and then you feel anxiety? I am certain there is a mental link somewhere. Thanks for your comments.
Avatar universal
Hi Flubdub

What a great story and name! Its so strange...ive just been away for a couple of days holiday and no pac's or pvc's...well I couldnt feel them anyway as soon as I got back home their they were! Like you said, you just have an anxious thought and BANG! Im off to the gym tomorrow, Ive been going in the gym at home but I do more at the local gym ....... Ive come to the conclusion life is for living! and if you enjoy it DO IT! :)
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