Posted By Nancy on June 27, 1999 at 10:06:54
I am a 47 year old female with no previous heart problems and normal blood pressure. Last year, I had a cardiolite stress test due to chest pressure, but it was normal and after further tests, the problem turned out to be GERD.
Earlier this year, my son began to have some physical problems which eventually caused him to threathen suicide and then my dad became ill. He lived in another state and, at first, it did not seem too serious. How-ever, as time went on, his condition deteriorated and I was "torn". He needed me, my son needed me, I was in training for a stressful job I took only because my husband pushed me to, I get no help with housework when I get home, I'm overfed, underexercised, and mad as H_ _ _ _ alot of the time.
Well, about 3 months ago, my heart started doing flip flops in my chest. It's not palpitations, but skipped beats I can detect by feeling my carotid artery-several beats and a skip, 2 beats and a skip, 1 beat and a skip, etc. At first, I only noticed it when I was sitting at home, which I seldom get to do. Then it became very apparent at work. No dizziness, chest pain, racing heart (my pulse is always 78 to 80 beats per minute even during the flip flops), or shortness of breath. The day I decided to fly up to see my dad, I had a real crying fit as I'm afraid to fly. Well, I had no flip flops the reast of the day so my husband said I just probably needed to release alot of tension and stress.
2 EKG's showed nothing abnormal and I had a Holter monitor prior to leaving for up north. While I was up there I spent 20 hrs per dad at my dying father's bedside with frequent flip flops continuing. I finally called from up there to get the Holter monitor results. I had requested that the same cardiologist from last year read the results. He did not keep a record of the results even tho I had an appointment with him for 6/9 (which I had to reschedule) as he read the report for the hospital. My GP got the results but said they did not understand what he was trying to say so I asked them the FAX a copy to his office so he could explain them to me. I then called his office (this was Monday) and explained I was up north, my dad was dying and my heart was going crazy. I wanted to know if I should seek out a doctor up there or not worry til I got back. The secretary said to call back at the end of the week. Thanks alot! Well, I guess if I had dropped over, at least I was already in the hospital!! I called my dad's cardiologist in the town where I was and they were understanding enough to request I have the reported FAX'd to them for their review. They called me back that afternoon and said they saw nothing to worry about and that it was probably stress.
Now, I still have 2 weeks before my appointment here at home. The report said "occassional VPC's and frequent APB's with no indication of blockage". I was told it meant ventricular and atrial premature beats-did he mean PVC's and PAC's? Now that my dad is dead, they have stopped for the most part. The archives seem to indicate they are ususally benign-tho not always. But why do they just start up out of nowhere one day? Stress overload? My dad had had 2 heart attacks and prior ro his surgery that found the cancer, his upper heart was beating faster than the bottom so once they put him to sleep, they shocked his heart to correct the beating. Is that similar? The "up north" doctor said they can give something to not make you feel the beating, but as long as it's really benign, I can handle it. But I can't help but wonder if it's doing any damage over time. Would you suggest an echocardiogram even tho it seems to have gone away? Also could I have MVP? I have also had panic attack problems over the past year and am on Xanax. Thanks for your help!
Posted By CCF CARDIO MD JMF on June 28, 1999 at 07:24:37
Thank you for your question. First, VPBs are PVC's and APBs are PAC's. Now that that's clarified, I would suggest the following. In general both PVCs and PACs are completely harmless unfortunately they cause a tremendous amount of anxiety. Iwould suggest an echocardiogram as you have mentioned to rule out any structural cause of heart disease. Once this is normal, as I would expect, you can be assured that these PVC's and PAC's are nothing more than bothersome. It sounds like they have already quieted down now that you have less stress in your own life.
To keep them away try to limit caffeine and stress. Although I realize that it is difficult for all of us to avoid either one of these!
I hope this has been useful. I wish you the best of luck. Feel free to write back.
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