Heart Rhythm Community
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1486478 tn?1307466597

Panic Attacks = PVCs? Why?

I posted a question here: http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Heart-Rhythm/PVCs-from-Anxiety-/show/1396721

The heart rhythm section is full of individuals who have the same problem as me, but for some of them it never goes away, although it has for some, and hasn't for some. But the reason it hasn't for some very well could be that they got them for different reasons as me and haven't been able to find that right combination of logic, analyzation, hypothesis, and experimenting. Everyone is different, and some have managed to find the answer. I'm working towards that solution, because PVCs do NOT run in my family, nor have I been a prior victim, until my heart obsession and first panic attack.

I refuse to give up finding what caused my pvcs, and how to stop them, simply because they didn't happen before all this anxiety crap. And no, they didn't suddenly come on. Thinking back on everything that has happened, since I now have a clearer head, these pvcs started after my first panic attack, which left me totally drained of all energy, sick, weak, and nauseated.

It was after that event that I was introduced to the wonderful experience (pardon my sarcasm) of what have been called "heart palpitations," "Extrasystoles" "PVCS" "PACS." Doesn't matter. They all give me pretty much the same effect.

Palpitations would refer to the thudding heartbeat.

PVC would refer to the strong contracting of the heart from the bottom ventricals filling up with a larger amount of blood

PAC would refer to the strong contracting of the heart from the top atria.

Needless to say, I've experience all of these throughout this 3 month hell hole of a situation I've been in, which all started with my mind running crazy thinking because of my morbid obesity, I was gonna drop dead at any minute of a heart attack because it happened to my friend.  

So I developed anxiety/panic disorder, and started having panic attacks. The panic attacks seemed to trigger my heart events. I came to that conclusion after they started diminishing after my first panic attack, and then came back full force when I had my second one.

Keep in mind, I don't have to feel anxious to get them, or feel them strongly. Right now, I feel calm, and relaxed, and I'm still getting them pretty strong, although they're not as strong as they were before.

I realize that anxiety/panic caused this to flare up, and now it just won't go away.

But, my thing is, with all the symptoms of anxiety, why is this one the one that lingers around, and takes forever to go away?

I don't know exactly what I did to get them to go away the first time, but they were. I dunno if it was eating the right food, or what.

I was afraid of them for a while, now they just annoy me. They're uncomfortable, they cause strange sensations in my chest, I can't trigger them, as they happen whenever the hell they feel like it.

Seems like I get some fairly weak ones, and then a strong one occurs every 5 to 10 to 20 minutes (If I'm lucky, I can go close to an hour without having a strong one.) I calm down, then the strong one hits me and I'm aroused once again. I'm still learning to just say "screw it" and try to ignore it, but it's hard. VEEEEERY hard.

The question is, what am I missing? Is it because this is a result of the anxiety being about my heart? It's more Health Anxiety than general anxiety. Or could it be something else?

I need answers. I'm seeing my doctor and therapist regularly, and both think it's all in my head, but how? How can that be when I even get them relaxing?

I'm going to see a Cardiologist in two days, but I'm afraid he isn't gonna find anything. I need an answer, and somewhat of a cure or something to at least dull these things down so I barely feel them.

I've never had any type of irregular heartbeat, have no detected heart problems. I'm obese, but am losing weight. (Went from 408 to 364 and still losing). Before, they would ONLY rear their ugly head during intense physical exertion like power walking, running, etc. But it was one, once in a while.

11 Responses
Avatar universal
"But, my thing is, with all the symptoms of anxiety, why is this one the one that lingers around, and takes forever to go away? "

"The question is, what am I missing? Is it because this is a result of the anxiety being about my heart? It's more Health Anxiety than general anxiety. Or could it be something else? "

Although ectopic beats can be facilitated by anxiety, they are NOT *caused* by anxiety.  The basic problem is a flaw in the way the sodium-potassium pump works in the cell membranes of heart cells.  Something happens that causes the electrical values inside and outside of some heart cells to change, out of sequence with the majority of heart cells.  This leads to what is called depolarization of the cell membrane, which starts an irrevocable, all-or-nothing response which causes the heart cell to fire and generate an ectopic beat.  Some of the causes have been studied in the lab and are known, such as imbalances of certain electrolytes.  Others, such as those we who are basically healthy deal with, are not understood.  Anxiety is one of them, and the presence of anxiety makes extrasystoles much, much more palpable, leading to a vicious circle.

You have received many, many suggestions about how to deal with your anxiety, ranging from relaxation techniques to medications.  I do not perceive any indication evidence that you have followed up on these big-time.  

It does appear that you feel that will power alone will do the job.

It will not.

At this point, I think you have two choices.  One is to take some basic chemistry and physics and then enroll in a course in basic human physiology, so that you can understand what is happening in the cells of your heart and in your nervous system.  This will not make your PVCs go away, but you will better understand the causes and the degree to which you are or are not in danger.

The other is to take yourself to a psychiatrist or an extremely capable counselor and submit to treatment of your anxiety, not to make the ectopics go away, but to learn to accept them and deal with them.  This will lessen your awareness of them, and it may--no guarantees--reduce their actual number.

1486478 tn?1307466597
It is the ectopics that are CAUSING me anxiety!!!

They are too strong to ignore and "accept"

It's not the number. It's the intensity. It feels like my heart is stopping. How on earth can I "accept" that?
Avatar universal
"How on earth can I "accept" that? "

That is why therapists of all kinds exist, from physical therapists to occupational therapista, to people who practice psychological therapy.  All of us at some point in our lives have to deal with things we do not choose or cannot avoid.  We learn to bear the unbearable.  People get diabetes; they lose limbs; they go blind; and they develop incurable cancer; they die of old age.  Most of us choose to learn to deal.

I wonder why you are so resistant to the idea of seeing a counselor or shrink to help you with this.  
221122 tn?1323014865
Okay. I started out like you more than 30+ years ago.  I thought the same way.  It was only after surrender that I could cope most of the time.  They ARE uncomfortable.  They suck, point blank.  You get them.  You are one of the lucky members of our group. (yeah, I know unlucky is the word.) I went to shrinks in the beginning....didn't help at all. If they don't get them, they didn't get it.  This group helps a lot more.  They may go away for long periods and come back again for long or short periods.  I am still alive after running the gambit of these different feelings for many, many years.  No, you can't will them away.  I know that if I don't pay any mind to them, it can make them go away for a while faster.  Magnesium supplements help.  I also take a beta blocker.  This has not stopped the fact that I had been in bigeminy (every other beat is a PVC) two times for over 9 weeks each.  I lived through it, but it was certainly a challenge.  
Just come here for reassurance.  Keep losing weight, and eating right.  You never know.
967168 tn?1477588089
I'm curious to know how you handle other stress and things in your life?

You don't have to post, but go over it in your mind; really pick apart how you "choose" to deal and cope with everything.  This can be a huge factor in how you perceive your symptoms to be. Yes, it's a choice which we all have - deal and cope with things or let them overrun us and rule our lives.  They CAN be overcome, you can accept and ignore them and you can go on to lead a normal life like others do - it's your choice.

This probably should be for the depression or mental health forum, but what the heck - I've been through he!! and back throughout my life beginning at birth, so I grew up a bit "tougher" than most and saw and experienced things by the time I was 10, that would curl adults toenails.  I never let that bother me, I was a bubbly, outgoing, nice, caring person - no one ever believed I was from a broken shatterd life.

That lifestyle helped me deal with tremendous adversity over my adulthood and deal with dying not once but twice now in 13 years.  I developed a blood infection during a pregnancy in 1997 that I lost my son at 21 weeks and the infection turned septic and basically kicked my butt and I was told to bring in my family I wasn't going to make it.  I watched my older children say their goodbyes at an age young children shouldn't have to deal with such stuff.

After being told for years that nothing was wrong with me (I've fainted and had arrhythmia's since I was 9)....my heart was in perfect condition & I was as healthy as a horse;  I just had a measley 50,000 pvc's and VT runs, my life changed....My heart stopped - REALLY stopped.

It happened in Feb 2009, while I was out walking with my family one night and happened again in March; did I let that stop me? heck no - I kept walking and even went to the beach and on vacation in the middle of April 2009, walked, ran, went swimming and spent 10 -12 hours a day spending time with my family sightseeing and being at the beach.

Up until I broke my foot in June 2009,  got extremely sick and my other organs were involved in August 2009, I did not let my symptoms bother me.  We've had Disney passes since 1998, we went as often as we could, weekly sometimes staying for days at a time.  Zoo, museum and Aquarium passes - nothing really bothered me - when I got shortness of breath or chest pains, I just say I need to stop for a minute, let it pass by and go on.  What else are we to do? Sit on the bench and watch all the other people go by? what fun is there in doing that?

The point of baring my soul long winded baggery is simple - you CHOOSE how you deal with things in life; you can either kick it's butt or let it kick yours.  Life is waayyy too short to expend so much energy worrying about things we can't change.

Just as I've had it worse than many others, there are more than me who have things worse in life than I have and deal with things better than me - that's what I have to remind myself of when I start feeling down.
Awesome advice!
1486478 tn?1307466597
I just need a way to lessen the intensity.

I'm one of the lucky ones who don't get thousands a day, and they don't wake me up. But those strong ones leave my chest in a constant state of panic and unease.

All of the fear is in my chest, and nowhere else, and that hard squeezing makes it worse.

I've been though just about everything, from being homeless, to being alone, being abandoned and mistreated by my mother, being poor, being tortured at school, you name it. I got thought all that fine.

But this is the hardest thing I've ever had to face.
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