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I suffer from severe heart palpitations (female - age 39).  Five to six times per day I feel funny things going on in my heart.  Sometimes I get three hard beats followed by a pause and then a thump. Other times I just get a thump and yet other times a fluttering feeling.  I have been through every test imaginable and the doctors cannot find anything wrong with me.  They once caught a short run of v-tach on a holter monitor but I have had two EP studies and they could not induce anything so they told me not to worry.  I WORRY!!!!!!  I have read terrible things about v-tach and it really scares me to think that my heart can go into this rythum.  They say that I am super sensitive and too tuned into my heart.  Who wouldn't be when they feel all of these weird things going on?  Do you think the doctors could have overlooked something with all of this testing I have had done - or am I just making a big deal about nothing.  These things have really taken over my whole life. Should I really be ignoring all of the bumping, thumping, fluttering etc?

I was prescribed atenolol years ago (which I go on and off) - I hate being on any drugs.  I have very low blood pressure (90/50).  I started on 25mg of atenolol but I get terrible headaches and my heart still skips like crazy.  I thought atenolol was supposed to help people with migrane headaches as well so I can't understand why I get the awful headaches when I am on it.  Would 50mg of atenolol not drop my blood pressure too much?  I have heard of people that are taking atenolol that say their palpitations have stopped completely? Why some people and not others. My EP doctor said I could try mexitil if I really wanted to but it was not necessary (I think she was trying to pacify my because I have become such a nuisance worrying about these things).  I am too scared to try mexitil as well though.  I would like to try to get to am American Heart Clinic (one such as the Cleveland one), but I don't know how a Canadian would go about getting to be seeing in one.  I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Thank you for any information you can give me.

49 Responses
238668 tn?1232735930
Dear Caroline,

You raise some good points in your question.  Palpitations can be very troublesome to some individuals.  We don't know why this affects some more than others.  We do know that the vast majority of these sort of palpitations are benign.  So I think in your case knowledge is the best weapon you have to fight this.  There are many postings on this site of individuals dealing with the same feelings you are having.  I would encourage you reading through these. You are not alone!  Some people dealing with the same thing have kindly posted their email addresses and you can contact them directly for additional support.

Medications such as beta-blockers and mexitil can often help with palpitations but many people do not want to take chronic drug therapy.  There are many recommendations for dealing with palpitations in a "natural" manner on this site as well. So I hope this helps reassure you.  Good luck.
Avatar universal
Do you think the atenolol would drop my blood pressure too low?  Isn't it dangerous to have blood pressure that is super low?

Avatar universal
Hi -- I have the same problem with atenolol -- it induces headaches even at a low dose.  I'm currently at 25 mg once a day, and I still get headaches about every other day.  My doc doesn't think there's a connection to the beta blocker, since these medications are used to combat migraine (which I've also suffered with).

I can't tolerate 50 mg. of atenolol because I start passing out from low blood pressure, and 25 mg. is helping somewhat.  Not as much as I'd like (like enough to make the palpitations go away completely!), but it's the beta blocker that I tolerate best.

On the palpitations -- I have much worse palpitations (PVCs and PACs) since I had open heart surgery.  Again, my doc believes that I'm simply more tuned in to my heart than before the surgery.  I don't think so.  3,800 a day seems to be a lot to me, and I know it wasn't nearly this extensive prior to mitral valve and ASD repair.  But, the bottom line is that they've done all the tests up to and including EP studies, and these are benign palpitations.  So I'm getting used to them and working on not letting them bother me, mostly through a mental dialog when they occur. It's taken some time -- six months or so -- to be able to not freak out when I have intense PVCs.

Just wanted you to know you're not alone.  I think the docs are often at a loss of what to do when it's clear the weird rhythms are benign, and yet so bothersome and frightening.  It's not that your doctor doesn't take you seriously, I don't think -- it's more that completely controlling the rhythms via medications may create other problems, like your blood pressure dropping too low, etc.  So, on the whole, learning to live with them, identifying what triggers them, etc., is a safer road to take from a medical standpoint.

Hope this helps.


Avatar universal
I started taking atenolol for pvc/psvt about 2 mths ago....i had terrible headaches. my gf (who is a pharmacist) said that although most docs wont tell you so, this is a common side effect and that it will diminish over time...it did in my case...headache free now.
Avatar universal
If a Doctor reads this:
I know we are not supposed to post this way, but I really would like an answer to a question.  What is the normal QTc interval for a 13 year old female?  It .423  too high or too prolonged?
thank you if any one replies
This child has no symptoms of abnormalities, just an occasional skipped beat,  pvc's.
Avatar universal
I have been on atenolol for over 10 years, and have taken varying dosages (my major side effect has been dizziness, not headaches, by the way)  Currently, I take 50 mg/day, but in divided doses - 25 in the a.m., and 25 in the p.m.  This seems to work great at controlling my palpitations, and since I also have naturally low blood pressure, this dose has been more tolerable than taking it all at one time.  Hope this helps.
Please know that there are lots of us out there who suffer with these darn things -- I mostly just ignore mine now when they occur, or take a deep breath and do something physical!!  Good luck.
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