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Avatar universal


History: Fourty-five year old female with no health problem except PVC's/PAC's/nsvt.

1.  Can you tell me what is considered "frequent" and what is considered "occassional" palpitations.  I get probably between four and ten feelings of dropped or skipped beats a day.  They freak me out to no end.  I think it seems like a lot but I have read that "frequent" means more than 30 an hour?  Could you please clarify for my peace of mind?

2.  I have been for two EP studies because a holter caught a short non-sustained run on v-tach.  I have been told not to worry because I have a normal heart?  True?  Would they have been able to make my heart to go into v-tach if it could in the EP study?

3.  If it is true that "everyone" gets palpitations then how come when I ask my sister or my friends if they feel anything weird in their hearts like skipping or fluttering they always say no?  

4.  I am on 20 mg celexa because of my anxiety about my heart.  I think about it 24/7.  I avoid social situations because I am afraid of having a panic attack about these things.  The celexa just does not seem to take my obsessing about these things away.  What would you suggest a person do about my constant anxiety/obsession about my heart.  I have been told by numerous doctors and cardiologists that I am not going to drop dead but I am so sure these things are going to kill me.  I obsess after having a bad bought of them and just can't stop thinking about them.
28 Responses
74076 tn?1189759432
Hello Carrie,

1. Can you tell me what is considered "frequent" and what is considered "occassional" palpitations. I get probably between four and ten feelings of dropped or skipped beats a day. They freak me out to no end. I think it seems like a lot but I have read that "frequent" means more than 30 an hour? Could you please clarify for my peace of mind?

Believe it or not, I have never read a defintion of what defines the frequency.  It is more just looking at it and deciding how frequent they are.

2. I have been for two EP studies because a holter caught a short non-sustained run on v-tach. I have been told not to worry because I have a normal heart? True?

This is true.

Would they have been able to make my heart to go into v-tach if it could in the EP study?

That is hard to tell.  We can make anyone go into ventricular fibrillation.  Ventricular tachycardia can be more difficult.  If you heart is normal and you have pvc's, pac's and nsvt, an EP study is not indicated.

3. If it is true that "everyone" gets palpitations then how come when I ask my sister or my friends if they feel anything weird in their hearts like skipping or fluttering they always say no?

Everyone has PVCs and PACs.  Not everyone has palpitations.  Remember that palpitations means that you can feel them.  I will tell patients in clinic that they aren't cursed because they have PVC/PACs, they are cursed because they feel them.

4. I am on 20 mg celexa because of my anxiety about my heart. I think about it 24/7. I avoid social situations because I am afraid of having a panic attack about these things. The celexa just does not seem to take my obsessing about these things away. What would you suggest a person do about my constant anxiety/obsession about my heart. I have been told by numerous doctors and cardiologists that I am not going to drop dead but I am so sure these things are going to kill me. I obsess after having a bad bought of them and just can't stop thinking about them.

Honestly it sounds like your biggest problem is not your heart, it is your anxiety.  It is very unlikely that these will go away.  You need to ask yourself "what will it take to convince myself that these pvc/pac aren't going to kill me"....that is a question that only you can answer.  It situations like yours, reassurance is the best we can do.  Your risk of sudden death is the same as anyone else with a normal heart.

There are others on this forum with similar concerns.  Hopefully they will post there thoughts.

I hope this helps. Good luck and thanks for posting.
Avatar universal
Hey girl!

I totally know where your coming from. I feel the exact same way! It is so hard dealing with these little buggers day after day with some days feeling hundreds and others feeling 1 or 2. It definatly is stressful. I am just getting myself back into exercising full time again cause my fears had me stopping it. I'm 23 and graduating from University this year, so I really need to get a grip on these things before going solo to who knows where after grad. I was just walking for about 50 mins and about 20mins into the walk I had about 10 nasty flips and strange sensations, thought I was a gonner for sure! But so far so good, still kicking. It is so hard to wrap your head around the fact that these things won't kill u? I am sure alot of us, including myself, can totally agree. Why can't we you ask? Who knows, probably because we have anxiety problems among other things. I hope you are feeling better soon and something besides exercise that I have been trying is cognitive behavioural therapy. (talking with a councellor) and it is helping me bit by bit. I wish you the best, hope to hear from you soon! :)

Nurse Kagome :)
Avatar universal
Thanks for your posts everyone.  I hope that I can somehow get over this obsession as well and just get on with it.  I am going to see my family doctor in two weeks and I want to ask if there is anything (other than a punch in the head) that will take my mind off these god forsaken things.  It is like a vicious cycle.  I have a PVC and get anxious.  I get anxious because I know another PVC is going to hit.  It is just a circle I can't seem to escape.  I don't know that I want therapy.  I just want some type of drug that will totally take my mind off these things.  I mean you would think that after 20 years of having them I would get over it, but I don't.
Avatar universal
I've had these things daily since giving birth 7 months ago.  I was having panic attacks big time, couldn't even stay home alone.  Got up and went somewhere every day, just drove around in the car b/c I was so afraid to be home alone.  One day, I just convinced myself that my mind was stronger than the urge to run, and I convinced myself to stay home and deal with it.  The thing I keep telling myself is what is the worst that will happen... I will die... that is the absolute worst thing that will happen... and it hasn't happened yet, not once in 7 months.
Avatar universal
Carrie, truthfully, between 4 and 10 a day would be considered *rare*.  Remember that anxiety fuels them also, the more you get anxious the more you will have!  Perhaps try telling yourelf that you won't drop dead until God wants you to.  I would caution you to not take any addictive drugs like Zanax for this either, but that is just my opinion!
Avatar universal

Get outta here!  Is it really considered "rare" to have four to ten a day?  I feel like it is a lot. You know you read so much about "occasional" or "frequent" but it doesn't tell you how many that would mean.  I guess I just look for a number (must be OCD or something)!  

I can't believe it when I read this board and see that people have 40,000 of them.  Do they actually feel the skips all day long?  I would be a darn basket case if I had 40,000 of them.  I have only had two today and feel strung out just thinking when the next one is coming.  I don't know, maybe I will go the therapy route.  I know that I will probably have them the rest of my life and have to find some way to deal with them.  I envy people who have found out how to do it!
Avatar universal
I am a 55 year old woman with a history of PVCs. I too went through countless hours of anxiety over them. Here's my story in a nutshell, hopefully it will help you in some way.
Every since I was in my late 20's I've been feeling the occasionaly PVC. (a few a day) Then when I was in my 30ies, I had 3 episodes of almost constant PVCs (every 3rd beat). Each episode lasted about 2 weeks. They stopped on their own, no one seemed to be worried except me. Then about 3 years ago, I started getting runs of every 2nd beat was a PVC for hours or weeks at a time. I had all kinds of tests, and worried myself sick over them. I too obsessed like crazy, searched for the defination of "frequent", "occasional", etc. I hung onto to every bit of information I could find and tried to define my symptoms to those of other, trying to give myself hope. Anyhow this went on for a couple of years, even restricted my lifestyle to some degree. But one day, I decided that if there is nothing wrong with my heart, I have to get a hold of by obsessivness and try to live a normal life. I took "newborn" steps. I decided that for 1 hour I would not check my pulse and I would push all thoughts of pvcs and heart issues out of my thoughts if they happened. Even if I felt the pvcs in that hour I refused to allow them to get to me. This wasn't easy, but I took it an hour at a time. Just one or two hours one day, and then 2 or 4 hours the next time. Yes, I couldn't always do it, but I kept trying and eventually, I realized that I had forgotten to obsess about my heart for a few hours or half a day and eventually the times that I obsessed got fewer and fewer. Now I hardly ever get pvcs or if I do, I don't notice them anymore. Yes, there's time when I still get anxious, but you really have to train your mind to not think of them. Stop trying to get definitions of "frequent" etc. and just try one baby step at a time to not think about them. There was a time that I was having over 40,000 of them a day for weeks on end, and here I sit years later, writing about them now. Please stop obsessing, its the only thing that will help the anxiety in the long run.
Hope this helps.
Avatar universal
Several years ago I could have written your exact note. I had regular pvc/pacs and even nsvt although it was never caght on the holter. I have taken mulitple meds and done many echos, stress tests, etc... all cominmg up with the same answer, in a structurally normal heart the symptoms are benign. I guess what helped me most was when I simply decided to believe my cardiologist and when the symptoms hit I would not freak out. Instead I would call to mind what he said and depending on where I was I would either shut my eyes and repeat again and again "I am not dying"; "These are not going to kill me" and that was several years ago. Do I still get them? Yes, daily. Do they aggravate me? Absolutely! Do I worry about sudden death? Not any more. After several years, my cardiologist finally said. Don't you think if they were going to kill you they would have by now since you have been getting them for years and you haven't died yet? I felt a little stupid but then had to admit he was right. So I go about my day with a flippy heart and deal with them as they come and have simply decided living with them is better than being crippled by them. I hope you can come to terms with them and get the help you need. I even decided to get off all medication because the side effects sometimes are worse over the long haul than the symptoms. God Bless! Robbie
Avatar universal
"I don't know that I want therapy."

Why would you be reluctant about therapy?  Don't get me wrong; I'm a big fan of using the right medications for anxiety, but people who have therapy along with meds often do better than people who use only one or the other.

" I mean you would think that after 20 years of having them I would get over it, but I don't.

That IS the point of therapy.  The PVCs will probably recur throughout your life, and therapy helps you deal with them so that if they show up when you don't have your meds on hand, you will not freak so badly.  The idea is to learn, deep inside yourself, that these odd beats are not going to kill you.  Learning takes practice.

Don't let the notion get to you that having therapy means you're some kind of nuts.  You just need help for a specific problem here.
Avatar universal
wow 40,000 a day? omg, i should stop complaining...wow. Do you feel them all? how do you cope with that ??? wow i think you are super strong.
Avatar universal
Just curious?  Are you a nurse?  Just wondered with the name.

Anyways about the 40,000 skips, I don't have that.  I have just read that some people do.  And you are right - I think they are super strong as well to be able to put up with that.  I couldn't stand it.

Myself, I get around maybe 5 - 10 skips or weird sensations a day which is more than enough for me!

I am still convinced that I am going to die from that amount!
Avatar universal
When I have my PVC episodes, I've recorded over 11,000 per day on the Holter, and sometimes it goes on like that for monts. As much as possible, I ignore them and get on with my life. I don't stop exercising, I go to work, I do stuff around the house, I play with my kids. I've been told they won't kill me so that's what I'm going to believe. I also know that even if they were going to kill me, that there's essentially nothing that my doctors or I can do about them, so worrying about them and letting them control my life isn't going to fix them or make me happier.
124876 tn?1189759433
Oh...this is definitely a battle...I have had several runs of them today and I am sitting here crying with two 3 year olds in the bathtub.....I have had these things for 14 years and it never gets easier to deal with them....I KNOW I need to seek out professional help (counselor) but I keep putting it off for some reason...I think I am scared that it won't help and then where do I go...I feel like such a freak because nobody understands...I mean, that is why I come to this forum and I am so grateful for it...but I am so upset right now because this scares me so much and I don't know how to get a handle on it. I just want to be happy and enjoy my family. I just don't know how to do that when I am woken up with them out of my sleep..and don't know why...usually I can pinpoint a trigger...that time of the month..had a couple of beers...caffeine..that type of thing...but when it happens and I feel like there is no reason...it sends me over the edge...Anyway..I'm sorry for venting so vigorously...I am just really upset right now because I started the day off with them and I have been panicky all day...and of course I wanted Carrie41 to know that she not alone in this....thanks for listening....
Avatar universal
My gosh Yoshi74.  I feel bad for you.  I actually feel a little better right now reading all of these posts.  It is kinda comforting in a strange way to know I am not the only sufferer out there.  I remember going to the doctor when my youngest was a couple of weeks old and crying and saying I was even scared to give him a bath for fear my heart was going to go wonky and I was going to drown him.  I went back over and over and I don't think she didn't know what to do with me so here I am in the same boat!  My kids are now 15 and 11 so I don't worry about the drowning so much, but I worry driving, I worry about being alone, I worry about going out for lunch with someone where I can't get away right away if my heart goes wonky, I constantly worry!  I am so glad to hear that I am not totally nuts.  I was really beginning to wonder about my head!  I am really a very normal person except my obsession about these heart beats.....
Avatar universal
Just to let the person who has palpitations wake them from sleep know.  I have the same thing.  I woke up 5 times last night with hard palpitations and one run of them and that happens almost every night. I have had them every day throughout the day for 7 years and I feel most of them.  It is one of the most difficult things to deal with for me. My stomach growling can cause them, or bending over or reaching above my head or lieing down or just sitting.  There is no rhyme or reason for these things. I get them every other beat at times or every 3rd beat. I do think stress or getting my stomach too full will cause them to be worse, but they never seem to increase until I calm down after the stressful situation.  It's like the rabbit syndrome, a rabbit will run and run from danger and do whatever it takes to be safe and be fine, but when they calm down after a traumatic event has passed they go into seizures from the trauma. You are not alone in this situation.  I can relate to everyone's post here .
Avatar universal
I just wanted to say that we are so lucky to have this site because twenty five years ago when I started getting pvcs there was no internet access, no one to calm my fears. The best advice I can give to all of you is to come to this site whenever you feel panicky and scared about your pvcs. It ALWAYS calms me down and makes me feel better to know that I am not alone and reminds me that I am not going to drop dead. To the original poster, why not try a beta blocker? This definitely helps reduce the number I get.
84483 tn?1289941537

The beta blocker atenolol 100mg daily in divided doses( usually before eating and at bedtime) has just about eliminated all my PVCs, I know the thinking is that betas usually decrease the sensation without decreasing the PVCs, but for me my pvcs are adrenaline driven at least most of the time that is probably why it helps to eliminate them. It has been nearly 5 years since my last prolonged epiosde, I still get a few every now and then but they don't scare me much anymore, just uncomfortable.. I know beta blockers don't work for everyone and I'm one of the lucky ones not to suffer any of the dreaded side effects of beta blockers, but for persons with life altering symptoms a beta blocker might be worth a try, my personal opinion only.
Avatar universal
I have suffered with PVCs for the last four years and they have taken a big toll on my life.  Most of the time, I can correlate them with anxiety although some times, they occur for no reason.  I have had trigeminy, bigeminy and one short run (3 beats) of NVST that was captured on an EKG.  I have driven my cardiologist crazy because he says what you've all heard - that in a structurally normal heart (which I have), they are benign!  Unfortunately, I also have familial hypercholesterolemia so heart disease has always been a big concern to me.  My Dad died from it 10 years ago.  I have done a good job of eating right, not smoking and exercising my whole life so right now, there's no sign of heart disease (41 yr old female).  I also take Lipitor and Zetia to control my cholesterol.  Despite my apparent health, I too worry that I will die from this.  Lexapro has definitely helped - it is the "next generation" of Celexa and has fewer side effects than Celexa - it's also effective at a lower dose than Celexa.  Klonipin is very effective but can be addictive so I use that sparingly - it can be taken for acute situations.  Right now, I am going through a bad bout and will have to go back on the Lexapro.  It really helps to come here and read all of your experiences with these darn things.
Avatar universal
I am in your same situation, just today I was at a doctor, because I thought I caught a delta wave on my EKG and the doctor agreed there could be one present. Because of this he has ordered a holter monitor. I still worry about my heart even though many doctors have told me not to.

I think swallowing some pride and seeing a pyschologist can help, because I have had one session and it helped me a great deal.
Avatar universal
I just got my first holter and ECG ...

Does anyone else think that the wearing the holter makes them MORE obsessive about the beats?  I have been training myself for 22 years NOT to think about them, and now I have this blasted diary I must complete and give notations every time I have an "episode", including how long it lasted, what I was doing, etc.  So I'm undoing all of my not-thinking-about-them....

Avatar universal
Hello, reading your post I feel like im reading about myself. I just cant believe it. But can you enlighten me on your number two question, I dont quite understand it. You have had two eps? But I just dont understand the last part of it.
Avatar universal
Yes to only have five to ten a day is considered rare.  I have been told by two cardiologists that everyone has pvc's and pac's.  If you took 1000 random people off of the street and hooked them up to an ekg for 24 hours, virtually 100% would have ectopics.  The only difference is that most people can't feel them.  On a holter monitor I only had 13 pac's and 2 pvc's in 24 hours, but to me 15 is a HUGE amount of them.. to others that would be a blessing.  My mom had 144 extra beats in one hour on her holter monitor and I've read here about people with hundreds or thousands of them daily.  I guess we really are very fortunate with only a few a day.  The thing that scares me the most is that I can seem to "control" them.  I can lay down too quickly and actually make it happen. That is why I am afraid that there is a structural problem even though I have had every test known to man at least twice, sometimes more.  Try to hang in there and remember, we are the lucky ones with only a few a day.
Avatar universal
Hi I am a 26 year old male with I think is a simliar problem.  It all started when I was 19 in college.  tried weed and got a very bad reaction from it. For awhile i thought i had a heart problem. I didn tknow anything about the heart. went to the hospital and the ekg was enough to relieve my mind.  I didn thave anxiety over my  health or heart for years till last summer. I felt faint and got really paniced over it.  ever since then for over a year im on and off with all kinds of bad symptoms.  I went to the doctor in july of 05 for feeling dizzy and getting jolt feelings in my chest right before going to sleep He gave me an ekg and a blood test.  Said im ok.  Still felt crappy on and off for a year.  
   Now im concerned about another symptom. I know i have gotten them in the past before but only here or there and only once or twice then disappeared.  So i never paid much attention to it.  but a couple of times recently i got about 3 or four of these sensations in a row.   PLEASe tell me if this is what you are all feeling

    I feel a sort of weird feeling in my chest. almost like gas. Feels like its the stomach. A spasm or contraction something cant explain it.  Then there sometimes is a pause and then a hard heart beat after.  They dont come too often and not everyday.  i might go a few days without one then ill get like four in a row. and its a pretty profound feeling.  I worry because I smoke ALOT. and im not very physically active.  However im not over weight. My blood work is all normal. low blood pressure. etc. and there isnt any heart problems in my parents and they are 70 and older.

  I just got a holter monitor test done.  24 hours.  Is this enough to help reassure me that my heart is ok? Do need to get a 100 other tests after this to be sure? I dont have insurance right now and dont know if i can afford many more tests. Im still awaiting the results.

is it bad that im getting these so profoundly and being male? I notice most who complain are females. hormone related?
Avatar universal
Wow, speaking of perspectives in life...You have 10 PVCs a day and you feel so anxious about them. To me 10 sounds like nothing. But the same goes for me. I've had no more than 4000 PVCs during my worst periods, and I was freaking out, though I knew some people were having tens of thousands...
I guess it's all about coming to grips with these things, no matter how many we get.

Hi Tickertock!! The BB drastically decreases the frequency for me also, not just the sensation. Hope that continues.

Avatar universal
I've had them for about 15 years now

Of course at first it freaked me out alot.. and I worried that my heart would just stop from them etc..  But one day I realized that I was starting to worry so much about dying, that I stopped living, and that was enough for me.  Now I accept that I feel them occasionally, especially a few days before my time of month, that's when I feel them most.  Regular excercise helps me more than anything.. If im having a time where I feel them alot (usually during high stress times such as my wedding or during my time of month), then I make sure to walk several laps around the track each day and they seem to go away more.  

Good luck
Avatar universal
hi carrie,
10 pvcs per day is hardly any and no more than your average person youd pass on the street. In studies where they've put holters on a sample of the population 6% had more than 50 pvcs, 5% had more than 300, 4% had more than 500 and almost 3% had more than 1000 PVCs per day. These results are scientific fact and are published in reputable medical journals. A recent study of 625 people with normal hearts showed that 3.4% had nsvt during the 24hours of the study and 8.8% had couplets. Apologies if i already told you this in another post. I've written about this quite a few times in various threads on the forum as I find it very comforting.  So just remember when you look at people around you that most of them are having more PVCs than you but dont know it. I have had 1786 and feel every single one of them as a horrible flip flop in throat and dropping sensation in chest. I literally didn't go longer then 2 minutes without PVCs for month..like torture. I think I'd rather have 10,000 per day and not feel them than have 200 per day and feel them.
Avatar universal
Comforting post deedle!  I really want to know if people feel them in their neck as well though?  I don't feel anything in my throat.  It skips in my heart and the left hand side of my neck.  Very nerve racking to say the least.  I haven't done too badly today.  Only had a few while I was laying in bed but still kinda set me off.  
Avatar universal
Just a thought. I've found that some things can bring on my palpitations - paint fumes, inside swimming pools where the chlorine fumes are concentrated and spray cleaning products. Within 36 hours of coming into contact with them I'll start having palpitations, so I try to avoid those chemicals. I don't suffer with as frequent episodes as most of you people do, so I was able to discover this.
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