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calcium related heart arrythmia

I recently experienced several episodes of skipped heartbeats.  A Holter monitor indicated evidence of some PACs, some sinus bradycardia, a small pause and some sinus tachycardia and a PVC.  The episodes of skipped beats appear to have been resolved by discontinuing OTC calcium supplements.  My questions are:
1.  Why would calcium supplements cause this after many years of use?
2.  Could a different source of calcium be the cause?
Thank you.
11 Responses
239757 tn?1213809582

Electrolytes are things like calcium, potassium and magnesium  in the body including in the body that are tightly regulated so that thier levels do not vary much day to day. In some cases the mechanisms that regulate these substances can get 'out of whack' and the levels can be high or low. This is usually associated with a focal disease such as renal failure or administration of medications like diuretics which can perturb their balance.  In situations where the levels are high or low they can affect cardiac function and lead to arrythmias. The beauty of the body however, is its ability to compensate for changes of these substances in most conditions and keep a steady level despite increased intake or day to day changes in your diet or medical regimen.   Thus, unless there is a assocciated change in your overall health, it would be highly unlikely that changing calcium supplements could affect your bodys calcium levels enought to cause significant changes in your cardiac rhythm.

good luck
Avatar universal
Taking the calcium could have created a relative low level of magnesium -- and that can spark irregular heartbeats. You can look this up on the internet.  If you eat meat, drink cokes ( phosphorous can deplete magnesium) or if you have other reasons to have low mag in your body and you are taking calcium, you can shift the balance. I'm not a doc but that's my best  guess as to a possible calcium connection and your arrhythmia.

Avatar universal
Thank you for the responses.  Test indicated blood calcium level in the normal range.  I had been taking calcium and magnesium supplements w/ Vit.D.  I take only one medication - fosamax, 70 mg. weekly for osteoporosis and am in otherwise good health.  At the moment I am off Ca/Mg supplements and free of any noticeable arrythmia.  I suppose I could resume the supplement and see if the arrythmia recurs??
Avatar universal
Hello Gary,
Well first, I think I understand from your post, that you've had all the tests and your heart appears "normal". Then if these sensations you are experiencing are PVCs, they are indeed scary, but from everything I've been told and researched, they are "benign" in a structually normal heart.

I first noticed my PVCs when I was 18 also. I'm now 42 and they have been pretty much a part of my life but I try not to make them my life if you know what I mean. My biggest hurdle was getting over the anxiety they brought, or maybe that was a separate issue. But anxiety and PVCs combined it is very uncomfortable, I know.

That all being said, we who have PVCs are still upright and standing!!! I had to pay out of pocket for my recent drs visits, holter and stress echo, so I know it can be expensive. It was a high price to pay for some reassurance, but I can't complain (at least not too loudly, who would listen hee hee). Hang in there and I hope you can find some comfort in your "normal" tests.
Avatar universal
what exactly is a pvc? i mean i know what they are, but dont know if thats what i have had for a while now as some of you dont say the symptom i have.

i started having palpitations in march of 2002. just out of the blue my heart started racing. about 3 months later i went to the er with a hr of 150 bpm.

after seeing the doctor and having all kinds of tests, he said everything was normal and that they could have been caused by high adrenaline.

he put me on toprol (spelling?) 25mg. that seemed to control them pretty well. after being on the beta blocker for a while i would get these weid feelings from time to time. the only way i can explain it is it feels like my hear stops for a second and i have to breathe in real quick..almost like i was punched in the chest and had the breathe knocked outta me.

i told my doctor about em and he really didnt seem concerned about them. my next visit he aksed "are you still having the flutters?" i said yea and he said "ok" and wrote on his little paper. "come back in 3 months".

by this time i turned 20 and lost my insurence. so the dr put me on a "cheaper" version called atenolol (which i am still taking) ive had 3 different doctors since and eveyone wants to try me on different things (one rxed me a pill that was 80.00 each..crazy) i basically cant afford to see a doctor now. i had to go to court and set up monthly payments and such.

anyway, i never had a "pvc" until a month or two after i started the beta blocker. ive heard this could be a result of the drug. anyway..those of you that have a pvc, do you feel like you get hit? its a very weird and scary feeling. i have about 3 per day and then i can go a few days, sometimes a entire month then just have one of these for no reason. sometimes i get them before i go to sleep along with these weird tingeling feelings that shoot thru my body.

ill be 22 this moth and have had trouble since i was 18..i havent been able to have a life since. im scared to death. ive only had one job cause im afraid im gonna die in front of a bunch of people or something. the one job i had (telemarketing) i got fired from on the second day. first day went fine...then on the second day i had one of these flutters in the middle of a phone call and i freaked out and hung up. i told my boss i have heart probs and i left. he said i could make it up if i had a dr excuse..but since i owe so much i gotta pay 100 down before i can even get seen..and i cant afford that. so he said "if you dont have a dr excuse dont bother showing up" and i said "are you gonna give me 100 bucks so i can be seen?" and that was pretty much it.

from what ive read on here, theyre harmless and people say to ignore them. i dont see how you can. its scary. i constantly thing im gonna die. if im doing something when i get these, i stop and go lay down or something.

it sucks cause i havent been able to enjoy life since i was 18. every night i pray to have a normal life again.

thanks for your time.
Avatar universal
I am 32 yr old male....I first got pvcs at 19 and they hospitilized me because my anxiety surrounding them was so great I could not handle it. I have always been a competitive athlete and a lifter and always in pretty good shape...so I wondered what I was doing worng. Through my twenties I would get very benign brief wpisodes that would not really affect me...but now, for the past year of my life these rythm disturbances are destroying me. I cannot enjoy anyrhing and I can find no peace. In the spring I had a stress test...good...ecg...good...24 hour holter, where i only got a few pvcs and pacs-good. Now, it is october, and I am riddeld with them throughout the day..but the real nightmare starts when I lay down at night, I have been getting these PAC's with a HUGE pause as soon as my body starts to relax for sleep. The pause is very significant and scary. I get them all through the night, every 4-6 beats. It is taking me 4-5 hours to get to sleep, because I will get them and have to get up and walk around. Whats funny is upon waking these pac's subside and the pvcs take over during the day. I tell you this is a hell I am in. I just want to be normal. I feel like I am broken and cannot be fixed. I have tried EVERYTHING-diet manipulation...motherwort, magnesium supplmentation...vitamins...rest....relaxation techniques. I do have anxiety in my family, but these episodes trigger the high anxiety, not the other way around. I believe i get these from my mother as she had them but never as bad....whats worse is my father had high bp since he was 25 and has had 2 heart attacks and bypass surgery at 53. I know I am screwed, but i could deal with that better than these rythym disturbances. They are really ruining my life, I dont sleep right, I cant enjoy anything, and I am in constant fear, and sometimes the fear turn s into frustration..I broke down the other day and startred smacking my chest and yelling to myself please just work right!!!!!!!!! I am really down and frustrated about this, so Gary, your post really rang home to me. You are not alonre in this hell you are in, I assure you.
Avatar universal
I understand your situation very well. I too thought my life was ruined because of PVCs. Had them since age 18, I'm now 42.  But my life is not ruined. Oh, but I can get into episodes where I feel so down it seems like I hate my life, I hate my heart. Thankfully, that is not all the time. It only lasts as long as it takes me to focus all my attention, all my energy, every bit of my soul to mentally tell myself that these things can not kill me, will not kill me, will not ruin my life. Only if I let them.

If I may be so bold as to say that your heart is beating normally, at least for you. I know, the big pauses are really hard not to notice, but they don't hold any more significance than any of the other beats, even the regular ones--if your testing all indicates a structurally normal heart.

It is hell, I agree, and when you have been battling them it feels like you have no energy to muster the strength to fight them any more. This may be the time when you just resign yourself to the fact that they will come and go as they please, maybe even with or without medication or intervention, but please know there are people who understand, who've been in your shoes, and I want to say with much compasssion, we're still here. I hope this helps.
Avatar universal
thank you, your post does help. mentally handling this is tough but it has hel[ped me to handle other things better (since few things are as tough, at least for me) I appreciate the response very much.

Avatar universal
Hi, I'm new here, and hope I am in the right place.  I am 42 years old.  A couple of months ago I started getting these flip/flop feeling in my chest with a presure type feeling in my neck.  Sometimes a sick kind of feeling in my stomach.  The DR. gave me a stress test and showed numerous PVCs.  I have since went to a cardio Dr, had a echo and wore a Holter.  They show "quite a few" PVCs.  (the doctor's words)  He said most were not anything to worry about, but I did throw one "bad" one in a 24 hr period.  
I don't seem to have any problem when I am up and moving around, actually feel pretty good.  (maybe I just don't notice them then).  It is when I am trying to rest that they drive me crazy with their frequent episodes.  Sometimes waking me up at night. Unlike most of the comments I have read, I have a lower BP (110/60) and pulse (60 bpm) instead of high, although I am about 20 pounds overweight.
The Dr. put me on Toprol 25mg.
Well this made me feel even worse.  Not only did it not help the "palpatations", but I felt like everyday movement was like I had ran a marathon.  I was wore out and breathing hard.  It dropped my BP down to 90/50 and my pulse 45-55 bpm.

So I guess my questions are:  What caused the sudden onset?  And what can I do about it?  The Dr. doesn't seem to be worried, but sometimes I do get some "discomfort" that borderlines chest pain.  When should I be worried?  
I also have tried cutting down on caffine with no help.  Stress doesn't seem to be a problem, I am a 911 operator/dispatcher who works nights.  I really don't think the "stress" bothers me.   I don't drink, but I do smoke.
Sorry about this being so long, I am just trying to be thorough.
Thank you in advance for any information.
Avatar universal
If you've had numerous tests and they show a structually normal heart, and mostly PVCs, despite the high frequency (you didn't mention the number, but it doesn't matter too much, mine are around 1000/hr and I'm still here!!), then I would trust your doctor. PVCs are benign, but can be very uncomfortable.

I would suggest that you try with all your might to quit smoking. I know it's hard, but that will make a bigger impact on cardiac and vascular health than anything. Stress does seem to be a factor for most people but if you feel you are dealing with it well then it might not affect you as much. But don't be fooled, night shifts and high stress situations combined with smoking, (maybe skipping meals, being dehydrated, etc etc) can change us physiologically in ways we might not even be aware of, until one day, bang, we can't tolerate it anymore and we "notice" those changes for the first time. Hope that answers some of your questions.
Avatar universal
Hi Im from england and we brits all moan about the national health service but blimey gary's story re going to court etc cos he cant pay is a nightmare.
I've had ventricular ectopics since 1999 (think thats the same as pvc's). Often come in eruns for hours on end.
How do you know the difference between pvc and pac's?
I also don't get tachycardia, according to my doctor my pulse is normal. Mind you do you, if the ventricles are working independently of the rest of the heart, do you add the sinus rhythm and ventricular rhythm together to get pulse reading cos I guess that would push it up.
Great site by the way, so glad there are others like me out there.
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