Heart Rhythm Community
12.2k Members
Avatar universal

Feels like I can't breathe for a second...heart related?


I'm not quite sure where to post this. Ever since last June (2010), I will every so often feel like I can't breathe
for a second, and kind of like my heart stops. It usually lasts for 1 second, 5 seconds tops, but it's just a very
strange feeling.

The problem is, it's very hard to explain what happens. It just feels like I can't breathe for a second, and maybe
like my heart has stopped, but whenever I try and feel for my pulse to check, it's already stopped. Plus, whenever
I feel it, I sort of feel it in the middle of my chest, not above or near my heart.

I thought maybe it was some sort of angina, but I'm young (24) and take Omega-3 daily, and try to keep myself
healthy (I am overweight, though). And most of all, there's absolutely no pain. It just feels very weird for a second.
Nothing radiates, and it usually only happens once, and then goes away.

It usually happens every couple of months, but in July, it happened in rapid succession one night, about 6-7 times,
and I got very freaked out. The next day, I went to the Doctor, and they gave me an EKG and a holter monitor to
wear, and a blood test. It all came back totally normal, but when I was wearing the monitor, I didn't feel it happen, so
I'm not sure if they caught anything.

I guess my question is...should I be worried? Do these symptoms sound dangerous? Has anyone else experienced these? Have you talked to a doctor?

ANYTHING would be very helpful! Thank you!
24 Responses
Avatar universal
I have something similar happening to me. I have been diagnosed with having PVCs. That is when your heart misses a beat and (according to the doctors) a benign condition. That being said for the past few months I have felt the need to "force" a breath every so often. That is the best way I can describe it. I could be doing anything....walking, sitting, laying in bed, etc. It just feels like I need to take a "deep cleansing breath" and then I am fine. I mentioned it to the doctor and he just said that sometimes my body requires more oxygen and that is what happens. He said if it happens more frequently then he will order more tests...what tests I have no idea. I hope this helps.
I'm on this post because it has just happened to me a few minutes ago, it happened every couple of months as well almost as if I can not breath in and feels as if my heart has stopped. I agree it only usually blast 1 or 2 seconds but when time when I was out in a club it happened for 10 seconds. I've also had my heart screened and it's fine, I forget that it even happens because it's so few and far between! I'm 22 a bit over weight but not obese, you explain exactly what happens too me!
612551 tn?1450022175
Can you explain further what you mean by you can't breath?  

In my experience I sometimes must be taking shallow breaths, when lying down or just sitting..times when my oxygen needs are minimum. Then I feel in my mind a conscious need for more air - so I consciously force a deep breath.  What I expect is a feeling of a lungs "overfill", that's the word I'll use to mean I have a definite feeling in my chest that my lungs are full but I still get a little more air in.  Strangely sometimes when I do this I don't get the "overfill" feeling and I will take several additional forced deep breaths until I get that feeling.  I guess I could say at times like this I can't breath, but I think that is an overstatement in my case.

You may need to wear an event monitor until you get an episode.  If one has no heart rhythm episodes when wearing a monitor, the test failed due to nothing to monitor.  

But, do think about it, you may be doing subconscious shallow breathing or even holding your breath.  
Avatar universal
What you described sounds EXACTLY the same as I feel. Did you get any answers?
Avatar universal
I get PACs and when I have them it's like it momentarily takes my breath away.  It's just a split second though so I wouldn't necessarily describe it as a 'can't breathe' feeling.  It just feels like my breath taken away very quickly.  I had this happen at the ER and it was documented to be PACs.  In any event, if your feeling is similar, it's probably PACs or PVCs which are benign conditions in a structurally normal heart.  If it truly feels like you can't breathe, it could perhaps be anxiety or something else.
Avatar universal
I literally just went to the ER for the same symptoms because it scared me so much. I was told it is anxiety related and shallow breathing. I had the EKG workup etc and all came back normal. I guess DRs know best, but I feel like it happens randomly and not necessarily when stressed. Just thought I'd share, it is definitely a weird/scary thing to go through.
Avatar universal
I'm having this weird feeling right not to we're it did feel to like I couldn't breathe a second good and like everything would stop happed about 10 times and right now my hearts just racing and I can barley breathe at all my doctor says I have an upper respiratory infection and anxiety so could it be both interfering or what some one help me
1569985 tn?1328247482
If you feel you are in danger, you should go to the ER or contact your doctor.  It sounds like you've been to the doctor and he's diagnosed you, but if this is new or different, get it checked out. Better safe than sorry.  Let us know how you are.
Avatar universal
I have had the same exact thing, Jamiedanger. I was just wondering about it recently because my heart actually stops beating for a few seconds and yes, feels like breath is taken away, sucked right out for a second. I have checked many times and yep, there's no heartbeat. Very weird feeling. I even wondered-- is this an anxiety attack? But I've never had that problem, and I don't think it would be a few second thing. I just looked up those symptoms now and came across your postings; thanks to everyone for sharing ideas. It's good to know when you're not the only one...
Avatar universal
It sounds like you're saying: you should worry if you have PVCs and you're over the age of 45.  And...you're going to have a heart attack if you're over 60 and have PVCs.  You may want to re-consult some of the heart surgeons you work with all day long because it seems you may have missed something.
1423357 tn?1511085442
See my little avitar picture, that was me in my mid-40's with SVT and PVC's about to clinch the national inline championship for my age group.  I'm 62 now, still here and still skate.  Sorry dude,  but I have to call you on that one.
Good for you. Ride on.
Good for you. Ride on.
Avatar universal
wow im so glad i found this post. IVe been having the exact same feeling over the last year or so now. i wont list symptoms bc they have all been covered in previous posts. i am a 26 y/o male very active/ athletic. I have no idea why it happens but it freaks me out to say the least which in turn gives me anxiety and or panic attack. I notice it more when i seem to have gas/ air build up in my stomach. also when it happens( in the moment of the..skipped beat or what have you, i can feel that skipped beat in my throat...very hard to explain. i have also had an EEG i believe it was called, not a EKG and everything came back normal, blood tests to. but i was not having an..episode at the time either, as described before it only lasts seconds...but those seconds maybe you wonder for hours, ehh
Avatar universal
I know what you mean, it's like your breathing an then for a second you feel it coming... Like a 5 second chest spasm, where you're either afraid to breath or force yourself to breath.  Then a few counted heartbeats, and everything is back to normal.
4003901 tn?1349011493
I've had this problem for a couple years.  

I had all the usual tests with no results except a few benign PAC's.  I do have Graves disease and MS.  Also IBS, gastritis, degenerative disc disease and on and on.

What I don't get is why these sensations can go away for weeks or months and suddenly come back.  Seems like they start again for no reason.  Just walking around can bring on that weird chest feeling.  

What is it that makes the symptoms start again?
244602 tn?1215975628
That sounds to me like a PVC sort of thing too.    Those are benign.  You only have to be concerned about them if like six of them occur together (not separated by normal heartbeats), or if they give rise to prolonged rapid or irregular heartbeat.  

I was careful to say "PVC sort of thing" because, while PVCs are evidently most common, there are a number of benign minor temporary electrical abnormalities that feel and act similar to what you describe.  

You can always get it checked out; get a stress test and EKG and that, and maybe a holter monitor; it is very likely that none of these will find it, especially if it only happens once in a while.

Of course the ultimate answer is to ask your doctor.  You might hear some version of it's stress or nerves, which is possible, or lack of sleep, or asthma meds, or caffeine, but they occur occasionally to everyone.  

244602 tn?1215975628
One other thing; PACs are the 2nd most common PVC sort of thing.
244602 tn?1215975628
Because hearts, and the neurochemistry that helps drive them, have cycles, I think.  I have PTSD and it has long periods when it acts up a lot and long periods when it is seldom heard from.

If you have alot of health problems it is also possible that something about them or what you do to treat them drives the cyclical behavior.  

The things that set off PVCs and the like in most people are stress, lack of sleep, caffeine, and asthma meds, among other things.   I swear my bipolar catecholamine swings help drive the behavior.    
Avatar universal
I have something like this also, weird! In the night when Im trying to sleep. Its like im holding my breath for a few seconds. No chest pain or tightness just no breath. Then I take a deep breath if i can and it goes away. Every night or so this happens off and on through the night. Does anyone know why? It is a very strange feeling. Kinda scarey.
Maybe Sleep Apnea ask your doctor about a Sleep Study Testing
Avatar universal
I have something like this also, weird! In the night when Im trying to sleep. Its like im holding my breath for a few seconds. No chest pain or tightness just no breath. Then I take a deep breath if i can and it goes away. Every night or so this happens off and on through the night. Does anyone know why? It is a very strange feeling. Kinda scarey.
It could be  Sleep Apnea should get a Sleep Study Testing, You are holding your breath, you may need a C-pap talk to your doctor. I have had three sleep study's and right now my health  ins wont pay for the machine till Oct. I am loosing my breath in the day now just sitting ,Feels like my breath was pulled right out of me.
Avatar universal
I'm glad I found this post, read all the comments thanks for sharing at least I won't stress about it too much and if it gets worse I'll see a doc.

Peace out guys...

Keep breathing!
Avatar universal
Does anybody get it while there awake this all started when I was falling asleep ect it started last year and Iv had it in my sleep to where iv troed to wake up but I just could not and I thought I was screaming but I wasnt but now I get it in the day it kinda feels lile everything stops I feel real weord I cant describe it and I jist cant breath im sat in bed shaking at this minute iv got a holter monitor on right now so surely of it is heart related it would of caught it ?? But now its going to be the long wait of living woth this while the holter monotor results come back im so scared and I just have a horrible feeling about this does any of you have health anxiety ?
Avatar universal
I had PVC-like symptoms for a couple of weeks - just it was described in the first question here. I found out I had a UTI during that time, so I'm guessing the bacteria were interfering with the blood circulation at the time. I am also suffering from leaky gut syndrome, so I'm also sensitive to sugar. There may be a specific relation between these two types of infections, but pvcs disappeared after my UTI  was cured.
139792 tn?1498585650
Recently I had viral fever for 5 days. After that I am getting similar random stoppage of breath. There is no pain. I can't explain the sensations. During fever, I could not cough. I was given medicine through a gas modifier. Sensation of stoppage of breath is un explainable. Anay theory or the probable name for this anomaly?
Avatar universal
I have had these symptoms and the Dr. told me they can be related to my Graves disease (Thyroid).
Avatar universal
One more thing i forgot to say. That i can no longer drink coca colas or tea or moutain dew they make me feel just like that day i got sick
Have an Answer?
Top Arrhythmias Answerers
1807132 tn?1318743597
Chicago, IL
1423357 tn?1511085442
Central, MA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Are there grounds to recommend coffee consumption? Recent studies perk interest.
Salt in food can hurt your heart.
Get answers to your top questions about this common — but scary — symptom
How to know when chest pain may be a sign of something else
For people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly challenging.
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.