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Avatar universal

Heart problem and anxiety? Are they linked? Please help (16 year old)

I am a 16 year old male with some form of heart condition. I do not know a lot about it because I have never really spoken to my parents about it but I know its to do with the aortic valve leaking. I had an operation (open heart) when i was about 1 i think, and about 2 years ago I had the valve ballooned? (not sure if that is correct) to stretch it.

I have also had for the past 2 years or so bad anxiety. For example when I am asked to public speak in class I have to avoid it because my heart beats really fast and I go red in the face and tremble etc. This is really having a bad affect on my life and would love to get it sorted out.

I have tried several methods such as practicing but none seem to work. I have heard of beta blockers which seem to work from reviews I have read. Would I be able to get these to treat my anxiety given my heart problem?

Finally, what is my life expectancy? (I really want to know because I have high hope for the future for what I want to do in a set time period)

Thanks so much!
7 Responses
1551954 tn?1294273911
Beta-blockers are very helpful for anxiety and they are also good for many heart conditions including aortic valve issues unless you have aortic regurgitation (where the valve is "leaky" and the "leakiness" is severe).  Beta-blockers such as propanolol or metoprolol are used for anxiety and heart issues.  I could not tell you if you should avoid beta-blockers with your certain heart condition because I do not have enough information as to what your condition is.  You should be routinely followed by a cardiologist and that cardiologist could both prescribe beta-blockers to you or tell you whether or not it would be a good idea for you with your heart condition.  

I cannot tell you your life expectancy because I do not have enough information about your heart condition.  However, patients with congenital heart disease are living much longer (at least into their 60's) than they used to because of new surgical techniques and medications/therapies that we have to help prolong your life.

Hope this helps!  Good Luck.
Avatar universal
Thanks for the response.

I think the heart condition is quite severe, considering the operations. I am currently having 6 monthly check ups on my heart. Are anxiety and aortic valve leaks related though?

I did search the internet briefly and it did come to my attention that it is potentially linked.

any other responses would be appreciated.
Avatar universal
I am sorry to hear of your struggles. I think in all honesty anyone with heart issues will have anxiety. I think though that you are asking the doctor if your heart issues caused the anxiety. I dont think anyone can anser that because anxiety is something they can not prove or see, but they can when a valve needs to be fixed. I happen to agree with the side I have read about where heart issues such as mitral valve can cause people to have anxiety. Its one of those things that is debated and which came first. I think you should definately talk to your cardioloigst about your anxiety and see what he/she says. I personally believe our "chemistry" so to speak gets messed up when other parts of our body is not working well. Good luck.
Avatar universal
As the heart MD says, it would be good for you to establish a one-to-one relationship with your cardiologist so as to understand your own heart issues for yourself.  You will probably find yourself reassured greatly by this.

Second, as bbxx says, I agree that anxiety and heart issues are linked--maybe not by the actual physiology (though sometimes that's possible), but certainly by awareness of hiccups in the heart's behavior.  Who would not be distressed by that??

However, you are also at an age when social anxiety, such as having to speak in class is perfectly normal.  In fact, this is true for most adults as well:  A few years ago, somebody did a survey asking people what they feared most in life.  The answer?  Public speaking!  We mostly just hate it, but some people conceal their fear better than others.

But as to anxiety in general, this would be a perfect time for you to get a referral to a therapist who treats anxiety.  There are mental and physical exercises you can learn to help you with your anxiety, regardless of the cause, and you might be surprised at how few sessions it takes to see real improvement.  Finally, of course, there are psych meds that can help with anxiety that's not relieved by talk therapy.  

Do not delay:  Ask your doctor for a referral to a good counselor for help with the emotional issues.  You'll be glad you did.
Avatar universal
I have just had a thought. I think this anxiety actually only happened after my second operation a couple of years ago, could this be why?

I will take all your advice on board too. This forum is great :)
Avatar universal
I think definately it can be related to operations!
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