Heart Rhythm Community
12.1k Members
Avatar universal

heart palpitation and bowel movements

I am a 35yo female that has suffered from heart palpitations for the last several years. I have had every test that you can think of.  They all come back as normal.  My cardiologist says that some people suffer from palpitations for no reason.  It just seems like when I have palpitations that I automaticlly need to have a bowel movement.  Does anyone else suffer from that? I have been told that is not a sign of any heart problem.  The palpitation bother me to the point that I am afraid that I will have a heart attack.
44 Responses
612551 tn?1450025775
While there are no absolute guarantees in this life, it sounds like you've been check-out sufficiently to make a heart attack unlikely.

Have you had any emotional analysis, i.e., panic/anxiety/depression.. whatever?  Emotions can cause rhythm problems, and likely bowel problems too.  I am not aware of any other connection between the two physical conditions.
Avatar universal
Could this be anything to do with the vagus nerve? When I get my palpatations and irregular heartbeat it is preceded by stomach activity, a bit like a spasm in the gut. The docs I've mentioned this to say there is no connection between what's going on with my heart and the vagus nerve, but I am far from convinced.
Avatar universal
What you are experiencing is not uncommon and has been mentioned many times on this board in other postings -- you might find it interesting to do a search and read those threads.

Palpitations, isolated PVCs/PACS, short runs of tachycardia, bradycardia, and even vaso-vagal syncope, have all been noted in research, and by medical practitioners working directly with patients, to, at times, be precipitated and/or accompanied by activity in the digestive system including passing gas, having heartburn, feeling the urge for and having a bowel movement, and episodes of nausea. Many questionaires given to patients undergoing evaluation by well recognized hospitals specializing in cardiac arrhythmia include specific questions about palpitations, arrhythmia and syncopal problems in relation to digestive events because they are aware that there does seem to be a connection for some patients at some times.

There is some speculation that the arrhythmia in these cases may result from vaso-vagal stimulation, while a couple of studies seem to suggest it may be the result of irritation or temporary disruption of the complex electrical circuitry in the heart by small changes in the position of, or pressure on, the heart caused by the digestive process.

As far as I can ascertain, as long as your heart is structurally sound and you have had your arrhythmia appropriately evaluated by a specialist and no serious abnormalities have been found, these episodes do not seem to cause any problems -- other than being uncomfortable and possibly a bit embarrassing for some. In a cardiac rehab program I once met a woman who was so frightened of her digestive system related palpitations that she would not lock the door on the bathroom when she used it for fear that if something happened to her, no one would be able to get in to provide emergency care. Leaving door unlocked eased her anxiety considerably and certainly encouraged her friends and family to consistently knock before opening...
Avatar universal
Thanks for the information.  
Avatar universal
Yeah, I found that useful too ptadvoc8, thanks. I was particularly interested in this bit....There is some speculation that the arrhythmia in these cases may result from vaso-vagal stimulation, while a couple of studies seem to suggest it may be the result of irritation or temporary disruption of the complex electrical circuitry in the heart by small changes in the position of, or pressure on, the heart caused by the digestive process.

Because sometimes when I lie on my left side when getting into bed, the arrhythmias start off, but if I lie on the right they don't. However, what I find difficult to get my head round is the apparent benign definitions given to heart irregularities. Surely you can have a heart as strong and healthy of that of a lion, but if there is dispruption to the electrical circuit, there is every chance it might decide to stop one day. What prevents this?
Avatar universal
From what I understand, the unique physiological structure of the heart actually seems to make it "want" to keep beating -- so much so that if you dissect a recently deceased cadaver heart and slice or tweeze out a few random heart muscle cells then drop them into a solution of sodium and sugar water in a petri dish, they will often try to start to beat, and once they do start beating, they will then try to organize among themselves to try and beat "rhythmically". I find this absolutely fascinating. Despite all the things that seem to go "wrong" with our hearts, our hearts really just want to keep beating!

So, while you might think all of these arrhythmias, PVCs/PACs, bradycardias and tachycardias would lead to more serious complications, the heart seems to be surprisingly strong and adaptable to electrical fluctuations -- as long as the hearts structural and vascular components are in good shape. That is not to say that these electrical problems aren't serious in some cases and don't warrant evaluation and treatment. There are a certain number of deaths every year from SCA so concerns about that are very real, but overall, even when you are experiencing episodes of arrhythmia, it can help to remind yourself that there is probably much more that is "right" with your heart than is wrong with it...but only after you've had a good, thorough evaluation by a specialist!

Years ago people just lived with "tricky" hearts -- and the majority of them lived well into old age. My Great Grandmother was famous for her "tricky heart" and she lived to be 87. Her heart did all kinds of strange things, but it still kept beating well enough to keep her alive, happy and generally healthy. As medicine and technology have "advanced" these days, we view and treat the whole arrhythmia scene differently and often with excellent results, but I think it's helpful to remember that throughout the ages people have lived long and happy lives with "tricky hearts".

Incidentally, lying on one side or another is also commonly associated with an increase (or decrease) in arrhythmia symptoms and physicians (and patients!) are well aware of this phenomena. One of the theories put forth is that the "pressure" on the valves or other areas of the heart makes it "irritable"...
Have an Answer?
Top Arrhythmias Answerers
1807132 tn?1318747197
Chicago, IL
1423357 tn?1511089042
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
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.