Heart Rhythm Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

pvcs and going crazy

I am having pvcs all the time.  They are ruining my life and I am not able to handle them.  I have been tested in the hospital and my heart is good they say.  I don't know how to cope.  I jog and this helps for about 1 hour and then they come back stronger.  I have bradycardia as well and very low blood pressure.  Please give me some advice before I check out.
35 Responses
230125 tn?1193369457
If you have symptomatic PVCs, the first step is beta blockers or calcium channel blockers.

If the beta blockers and calcium channel blockers do not help and the PVCs are the same morphology (from the same location) and are frequent enough to map with catheters in the heart, ablation is an option.  The success rate is probably around 70%.  It can be a challenging procedure and does have risks which include rare cases of strokes and even deaths.  These are rare cases, but it is important to know because the risks of the ablation need to be less than your quality of life impairment from them.

Another option is anti arrhythmic medications like flecainide or propafenone.  You can use these medications if you have a normal EKG and no blockages on your stress test.  Again, there are risk to these medications and they should only be prescribed by experienced doctors to make sure that you are a good candidate for them.

If you haven't already seen a cardiac electrophysiologist, that would be the best place to start.

I hope this helps.  Thanks for posting.
Avatar universal
Hi - I'm a 51 yr old woman with PVCs.  I'm seeing a cardiologist who put me on Z-Beta (sp?) 2.5 mg/day.  They've helped significantly, but not enough to be satisfactory in my opinion.  My PVCs were huge in number - continual strings of 20-30 in a row, rarely ever calming down until I was in bed for awhile.  He read me the numbers from my holter monitor readout and said that I was definitely a case "of interest" because of the number of PVCs that were occurring.  He has given me permission to "play" with my dosage - i.e.I can take more if I'm having a particularly bad time.  I already had low BP (my whole life - and 100/60 is normal for me) so that's of concern because beta blockers lower BP.  I can live with the dizziness from time to time, but when I get what I call a break through episode, I think I'm going to lose my mind sometimes.  When this happens, my PVCs are so intense and relentless that it feels like my face is throbbing.  My teeth actually hurt!  If I'm in bed and lay on my left side, they get much worse.  I keep thinking, how can this not be dangerous?  It's SO abnormal!  So, am I really not in danger?  My tests show no blockages, no valve issues, and a strong heart muscle.  I'm healthy otherwise.  Can menopause play any role in this? I'm not in menopause yet, but must be close.  Also - my doctor has said that ablation isn't done on PVCs - only on issues in the atrium.  Yet I'm reading in this forum that people with PVCs are having them done!  Should I take my case to Mass General (I'm only 20 minutes from Boston)?  He seems fine with sending me there to one of his associates if I want him to, but has said that things like pacemakers and defibrillators would probably come up.  And of course, I want nothing to do with that!  I'd be fine with just medication if it worked well, but I just don't think it's doing a great job. I'm confused and getting frightened. What do you suggest?
Avatar universal
You need to see an "electrophysiologist" to look at your case not a cardiologist.  I learned the hard way that a lot of GPs don't understand or know what to do about pvcs.  A cardiologist will not be as familiar with them as an electrophysiologist who specializes in arrythmias.  My GP initally told me I had bradycardia and come to find out, after numerous doctor visits including a throurough workup by a cardiologist, I had no heart problems other than the pvcs.  My heart rate was normal, I just had so many skipped beats my pulse was registering in the 40's.  I was having 25-28,000 pvcs a day.  I had two ablations because the first one didn't work but since the second one I have been totally pvc free.  I finally have my life back and able to do so many things I had "lost" because of the multiple pvcs.  If you can, I would recommend trying the Cleveland Clinic doctors as they have extensive experience with these pvcs and ablating them. Good luck
Avatar universal
I have very low blood pressure 60/30 and a heart rate of 38-42.  I am taking Prozac and Xanax and I am convinced that the Prozac did this to my heart.  I have been taking it for 6 years and have been sick with these PVCs for about 2 years.  I have thousands a day and I have found thqt jogging will take them away for about 1 hour.  I can't jog at 2:00am when I can't sleep.  Nor do I like jogging.  I will take your advise and see the specialist that you recommended as this is truly a matter of sanity for me.  My marriage is rocky now because my husband is sick of the crying and dying concept I have and because he has talked to the cardiologist and he says that they are normal for me to have he thinks I am a hypocondriac.  It kills me when I can go for an EKG and they say that it is normal but you are have alot of PVCs .  This is not normal to me and it feels like I can't breathe or I have asthema or something.  Anything I do to raise my heart rate seems to relieve the symtoms but I work and can't excercise 24/7.  Thanks for the advise and it is amazing to me how many people suffer with this and nothing is being done.
Avatar universal
Yes Jean I too can relate.

Ughhh!!!! Yes, I too get random PACs....It scares the heck out of me. I get a flutter,  it radiates to my gut and I end up mildy panting for 10 - 15 seconds until it fades.  I was once an under 3 hr marathoner that is now afraid to even jog around the block because I fear the funkiness of a PAC. It's so alarming it feels like I might die. These PACs are a living HELL. I am constantly on gaurd for my next episode. I agree that for somthing that has such a huge negative impact on "quality of life" why is the patient left suffering with this torment. When a doc tells me  "it's normal and harmless" this does not fix what I feel. PLEASE !!! give me (us) something to ease my (our) suffering.
Avatar universal

Just curious (I too once took Prozac)Why do you think that Prozac is the casue of some your flutter issues?
Avatar universal
When I go off the prozaz my heart rate jumps to 85-100 which is not normal for me and the PVCs come more rampand.  I read the material on the Prozac medication slip and it says that it causes Bradycardia which I have now and that it cause palipitations also.  I had non of these symptoms before I started taking Prozac and it has only been since the last 3 years that I have had them.  I have been on Prozac for nearly 6 years.  I have tried to start a law suit but the attorneys all tell me that they have covered themselves by putting these warnings on their literature.  Sucks to be me... There are no long term studies that have been done on  Prozac.  
Avatar universal
Thanks for your response..........

I am tempted to go back on Prozac at a higher level just to try to stop my constant worry about my flutters. These feeling of flutter really do suck! I just want stop the cycle  to stop.  flutter = takes my breath away= panic / anxiety = hyper worry of the next event (stress) = flutter(cycle),
Avatar universal
I was at the ER on Sunday sure I was having a heart attack only to hear that I need to learn how to live with these PVC's (again)  I was having 14 per miniute and the doctor told me to take an asprin a day and he hightened my zanax dose. This is helping but again I just don't understand the constant response of " you just need to relax and get used to them.  They are so bothersome and are totally destroying my life.   I am seeing a physco therapist starting on Friday just to make sure I am not cookoo.  I bought a hand held meter to read these and I returned in on Monday as I was consumed with testing myself every 5 minutes.  SUCKS......
Avatar universal
I know it is really hard to just accept these PVC's; they are very frightening and annoying. I think gosh why me. I constantly check my pulse and when i feel the flutter i get soooo scared. I am trying to learn how to live them but it is very hard for me.
Avatar universal
I watched the pvcs on the monitor Sunday at the ER and I realized that I can understand them alittle better.  My valve does not shut so I get this pressure and then the pvcs shows up and then it stops.  This happens continuously.  When I stay busy I don't notice it as much but like I said even though zanax is very addictive it is my lifesaver.  They told me that Beta Blockers work well but I am not suited as I have bradycardia also.  On Sunday when I freaked out my heart rate was 41 and my blood pressure was 72/38.  Clinically dead.  But again I am told don't worry just do Yoga, or meditate, or jog.  Bull
Avatar universal
I have suffered from AVC`s, PVC`s, palpitations, tachycardia, flutters, etc. for well over 40 years.  It all started in my early 20`s.   Sudden bursts of very rapid heartbeats which would last for several minutes to several hours.  I used to get these on an almost daily basis. When the pulse was normal, I regularly got "skipped" beats, sometimes every few minutes, sometimes a whole string of them, each one occuring every couple of seconds. The "skipped" beats aren`t really skips at all. During the skip when the heart seems to stop, there is a beat, but it`s very weak and can`t be felt. This is compensated for by the next beat being a very heavy one.  I still get very frequent "skips" (PAC`s, PVC`s, ectopic beats), occasional 10 second rapid flutters, and very occasional atrial fib.
Everyone that get`s anything like this should, of course, get their heart checked by a reputable cardiologist. Provided there is no underlying heart disease, he should reassure you that the arrhythmia is benign and not life threatening.  At 69, I`m still here, not really any the worse for my experiences.
Probably the worst problem with any arrhythmia is the feeling of impending doom. It can be very frightening, with the feeling that you might be going to die.  I used to be scared stiff in my early days.  But I gradually learned to live with it.  I know it`s very easy to say, but do your best not to worry about it - the stress from the worry and anxiety could possibly aggravate matters.  As for a cure - I`ve spent half my life searching for one, but it doesn`t exist. The various prescribed drugs may be of some benefit to some people, but it has been well documented elsewhere that these can create more problems by way of side effects.  I chose not to take these drugs, and still don`t to this day.  However, I am NOT a medic, so if you have been prescribed drugs, then you should not stop taking them until you have discussed the matter with your doctor.  
   There are a number of non - drug products which have had some notable success in stopping these arrhythmias.  Fish oil capsules have been reported to help stave off arrhythmias.  Hawthorn has had similar reports. Magnesium, apart from being an essential mineral, has had many favourable reports on it`s efficacy, as has co enzyme CoQ10. These are all natural substances which should be well tolerated by everyone, and although there are no guarantees, they may well be worth trying by anyone who is distressed by this complaint. However, it is advisable to let your doctor know before you commence, particularly if you are already on drug medication.
Remember, if your heart is otherwise healthy, arrhythmias are NOT a disease of the heart itself, but are a malfunction of that part of the nervous system responsible for providing the electrical impulses to the heart.  Which leads me to my final point.      Atrial fibrillation is another very common arrhythmia, again caused by electrical impulse malfunction.  It has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt that amalgam (mercury) tooth fillings play a major part in triggering afib. Apparently, the mercury generates minute electrical impulses in the mouth that interfere with the heart`s impulses.  People who have had their mercury fillings removed have had a huge reduction in their bouts of afib.    As all arrhythmias, PVC`s etc. are caused by erratic electrical impulses, I can`t see any reason why this action shouldn`t be of similar benefit to any heartbeat irregularity.  I have no information at all on this point - maybe there`s someone out there who knows something?  Anyway, if anyone wishes to read more on this subject, log on to http://www.afibbers.org/lafforum.html      The LAF (lone atrial fib) Forum page gives a wealth of information by fellow sufferers of afib who also suffer from PVC`s and other arrhythmias.    Good luck!     0tt0
Avatar universal
g.  I own my own business and I am working hard to increase sales and get my mind of my heart.  I have many complications with kidney stones, gall bladder and now this so I can not take herbal supplements.  I am also allergic to so many things that I have to be careful of everything I put in my mouth.  This has only been the case for about 6 years and before that I was a healthy type A personality with out medical issues.  Something has gone wrong or maybe it's an age thing  47 years old.  I know that I wake up everyday so I have to let this go.

Avatar universal
hi there,i am also 47 years of age, over the last 6 weeks i have been getting the skipped/missed heartbeats have had several tests and all came back normal,my last episode lasted about 3-4 hours and drove me mad, mixed whith the fear etc can bring you down. i have faced many fearfull times in my life but this thing takes me to places i havent been before. dont know how otto has managed to cope.i hope one day with treatment this thing will leave me so i can go back to the REAL ME.
Avatar universal
I am 41, female, have asthma and two nodules on my thyroid that so far are testing as benign, and have had panic attacks and anxiety for years. I have a son with epilepsy and so stress is a big aprt of my life. I take lorazapam as needed, but thats more and more frequent these days. Two years ago I noticed this flutter and sudden bogged down feeling in my heart. It faded, and then returned and never seemed to let up over the course of a week. I saw my doc whos ent me to a cardiologist. I wore a 48 hour holter monitor and after having it read was told I was having thousands! of PVC's. He said many many people walk around having them and dont know it - others are extremely sensitive to them, such as me. He prescribed a beta blocker, but after learning it could worsen my asthma, I did not take it. I am not a fan of taking prescriptions to begin with, and read up on everything before putting it in my body; perhaps sometimes I have too much information for my own good? Anyway, I tried to deal with the increasingly strong PVC's as best I could, and like amny of you have mentioned, when walking, I felt them less and less. But I'm not always walking. I began to get these sudden, completely out of nowhere hard heavy thumps right in my heart. Scared me horribly.. they take my breath away. Its not a sharp pain, more like a swift unexpected punch directly in the chest. So my cardiologist had a stress echo done, etc. They said there was nice blood flow, etc. and had no particular reason for these sudden thumps. Well these ahve been increasing and there is no rhyme or reason to them - apple picking, paying the bills, riding in the car, stepping out of the shower, reading in bed. Boom! The PVC's are stillt here, but these are soooooo intense. I saw my cardiologist 2 days ago. My blood pressure was 104/74 and my heart rate was 96. My average bp is 120/74 but my heart rate is consistently in the mid to upper 90's and low 100. I am a walking stress case and wish I could learn to calm down. It sucks, but I just cant. He said the tests show the PVC's all come from the same location, and he did talk to me about the ablation but said if it could be calmed by meds rather then something invasive, we should try that first. So I have been prescribed DILTIAZEM 12 hour extended release 120 mg to take once daily. It makes me so scared to take something that will change the way my heart beats. I have just read all the possible side effects. These PVC's are scary. I cant wrap my head around the fact that something going awry with your heart beat can be not life threatening. I am afraid to take this pill tonight, and afraid not to. Can you guys share with me any side effects of Diltiazem? And can anyone offer insight to what these out of the blue sudden thumps are? Thank you for all the info you share of your own stories. In the very least, Im not alone.
Avatar universal
I would look into those constant skipped beats be related to the two nodules on your thyroid...It's shocking how much impact that little thyroid gland has on your body
Avatar universal
"Skipped" heart beats are one of two types.  They are either Ventricular Ectopic Beats, (VEB`s), otherwise known as Premature Ventricular Contractions, (PVC`s).  Or they may be Atrial Ectopic Beats, (AEB`s), otherwise known as Premature Atrial Complexes, (PAC`s).   Symptoms are similar for either - a very weak beat occuring very quickly (prematurely) after a normal beat. As these weak beats can`t usually be felt, most people get the feeling that the heart has stopped, until a very strong thumping beat is felt. This strong beat is necessary to pump the extra amount of blood left behind by the earlier weak beat. That`s all the thumps are - nothing more sinister than that!  It just tells you that your body is doing the right thing to keep the blood flowing correctly.  For those of you who can monitor your own blood pressure, you`ll almost certainly find that it remains normal during bouts of this.    Tens of millions of people regularly get these ectopic beats.   PROVIDED that you have NO underlying heart disease,  then they are quite harmless.  It is NOT a heart disease itself; you are NOT going to have a heart attack; you are NOT going to die!  As I said before, I`ve been getting these for going on 50 years, and I`m still in good health.   However, if you DO have a specific heart complaint, and particularly if your ectopic beats are VENTRICULAR, (an ECG should determine this), then you will need to keep in close contact with your cardiologist, as they may cause complications.  There isn`t a doctor on the planet that knows for certain what causes these things. It has been said that caffeine, alcohol, cold remedies, smoking and stress could trigger them. In my particular case, smoking, caffeine and cold remedies were not the cause, as I gave them all up a very long time ago.  I also gave up all alcohol for an extended period, to no avail.  (This does not mean that these things will not work for you - they may be well worth trying).  What can sometimes trigger them off for me is vigorous exercise - but NOT always, a sudden sharp intake of breath, worry, and anger.  A case in point - I was very annoyed by a letter received only this morning.  I phoned the writer, which resulted in quite a heated argument. This triggered ectopic beats. After the call and I`d calmed down, they ended.
I can sympathise with everyone that gets them.  I know EXACTLY how you feel. I`ve been all through it and used to be terrified of them. But over time, I`ve learned to manage mine. It took me a while to come to terms with them, but now I hardly give them a second thought, especially as I know they`re harmless.  They can be uncomfortable - very uncomfortable at times.  But so can a pain in the ***, and none of us worry about that, do we?     We all have loads of discomfort with other things, especially as we get older, but we all learn to live with them. These ectopic beats are just another one of those things. They`re not even painful.   So all I can say is - when they happen, try not to worry. Just look upon them as being a bloody nuisance!  Sit or lie down for a while and try to relax. Once you master the art of taking this attitude to them, you may well find that you get them less frequently. I know I did.
       I sympathise with those who dislike taking drug medication. I won`t take them either.  The side effects bother me much more than the ectopic beats themselves.   As far as I am aware, there isn`t  a drug yet invented that will actually stop them.  If one of them did, we`d all know about it, and the makers would earn themselves the odd billion or two!   If your doctor prescribes drugs for this complaint, then by all means try them.  But if there`s no improvement, you should give serious thought re - coming off them, as it`s possible that they may make you feel worse. But ALWAYS do it with your doctors knowledge.
       Remember, if you get any kind of arrhythmia, FIRST OF ALL, tell your doctor and get your heart checked for any possible heart disease.   If it gets a clean bill of health, then the foregoing may be of some help to you. If, like I did, you make certain decisions for yourself re - taking medication, etc.,  keep your doctor informed.
   If I can help anyone, let me know.      Good Luck.  0tt0    
Avatar universal
Wow....thanks for your thoughtful post.

I have had:

Blood Tests
Nuclear Stress Test
CT Heart Scans

All of the medical tests above indicated  that I have a normal functioning heart. But, I stll get these unxplained flutters in my mid-gut that takes my breat away. These little bouts last at most 5 seconds but can happen in clusters. It scares the heck out of me.....I get this uncontrollable rush of panic and anxiety. It's a feeling of .. I won't be able to breathe and my heart is stopping and I'm going to die feeling.

I was once a very healthy 50 yr old(runnig 50+ miles a week - under 3hr marathoner). But about 6 months ago I got a real funky bug from an accident of consuming some creek water. I took the necessary meds to clear out all bugs but developed these funky flutters. The cardio people (during the stress test) said they were harmless PACs. Maybe harmless but they have turned my life upside down. I am now fearful to run  or do anything the raises my heart rate because that is when the flutters act up.

I am a very unhappy guy right now ! AND... what's worse is that my wife and friends think I some hypocondriac because I seem healthy but wrought with anxiety about these flutters. Everyone saying.." just try to ignore them if they are harmless....get over it". But, I wish for just once they could experience what I do when I get a flutter so they would understand how much strenght and courage it takes to deal with this funk.
Avatar universal
You`re getting exactly the symptoms I`ve been getting most of my life.   I frequently get 5 to 10 second flutters - I had one this morning shortly after getting up, other times I just get the odd one premature beat here and there between normal beats.  And they can give the sensation of breathlessness.
  BUT - what your wife and friends are thinking is slightly unfair, as you do have the anxiety problem, but they are right in thinking you`re perfectly healthy, because you ARE!    All your tests prove it!
They are also right in saying that you have got to get over it, because that`s the only way forward.  Very easy to say, don`t I know it!!   But true, all the same.  
  But your wife and friends do need to understand the depth af anxiety and panic that these "flutters" can generate. It`s impossible for anyone - even doctors and cardiologists - who have never had them, to fully understand the feelings that they cause.  I suggest you get them to read this forum.  It may give them some idea of what you are going through.
  However, you really have got to try and get these feelings of doom and gloom from your head.   I suggest that RIGHT NOW you get your jog kit on and go for a run. Set out with the idea that you WANT to bring on a bout of your arrhythmia.  EXPECT it to happen, and if it does, just stop and take it easy, (don`t panic - remember you`ve started this bout deliberately) and go through what`s happening in your mind:   You can feel the erratic beats in your chest - they are uncomfortable, but they are not painful.   You can feel the "void" sensation in your chest, and a feeling of breathlessness, but you`re not really breathless - just the discomfort of the whole thing.  You don`t really feel dizzy, or sick. Everything else feels fine - and, of course, everything else IS fine.      Do the same tomorrow and the next day and as often as you like, but always set out with the intention of STARTING a bout deliberately.   This way, you won`t be worrying about when the next bout is going to start, because you`ve taken control of the situation by starting at least one bout each day, yourself.  If one doesn`t start this way, then fine - just try again the next day.    If a bout starts spontaneously, just relax and concentrate on what is going on, as above.   Gradually, you`ll come to terms with them and come to accept them for what they really are - just an annoyance.   Also, when you`ve shaken off the worry and anxiety, you`re likely to get fewer bouts, as worry can be one of the triggers for the things.     Keep in touch.  0tt0
Avatar universal
I feel your pain guys/gals. I too have PVC's. I recently started taking Omega 3, 6, and 9 Fatty Acids and my PVC's are virtually gone...I am so relieved!!! I take 1 capsule three times a day and my heart is palpitating only several times a day now! I read medical research that says that it stabilizes cardiac cells, making them less excitable, thus reducing PVC's. It also has been found to dramatically reduce one's chances of sudden cardiac death in those with diseased hearts. I take Rexall's Flax, Fish, Borage Oil--it's sold at Wal-Mart and is a Godsend. Please ask your doctor and try it! What do you have to lose? Take care everybody.
Avatar universal
I've been having these PVC's off and on for 40 yrs now.  Caffeine does not cause them.  With me its Adrenaline Rush.  NOT from Caffeine, but unexpected bad news, severe suspense about an outcome, severe anxiety about something or severe anger when confronting the situation.  Then the PVC's start and stay for a long time till they finally stop.  My heart through these PVC's episodes is so sensitized that after a meal, or just eating a banana or an apple, or a sandwich the PVC's will come in full force.  Just getting up will bring them on, being in icecold weather with a cold wind blowing will bring them on, and the list goes on.  When I'm PVC free none of the above will bring them on except a severe adrenalin rush.

Beta blockers nor tranquelizers have stopped my PVC's in the past.  I lost the fear of it, but still HATE them when they come.  
Avatar universal
Nearly all the things you`ve listed that cause your PVC`s have, at one time or another, triggered mine.  They can literally start at any time. I often wonder if we get bouts of them while sleeping!  I don`t think they`re necessarily triggered by anything specific that we eat, drink or do. I`ve spent a lot of time trying to fathom exactly what might cause them, but have never come to any definite conclusion other than knowing that it`s not a heart problem. The heart is just the recipient of signals sent by the brain/nervous system, and the fault lies somewhere within this system.  Mercury in tooth fillings have been known to trigger arrhythmias by generating minute electric currents which interfere with those transmitted to the heart.  Many people have tiny traces of heavy metals elsewhere in their bodies which could cause similar effects. Who knows?   Come on, all you scientists and researchers out there!  How about an in - depth investigation along these lines?  
Anyway Barbarella, although I agree with you that they`re not the most pleasant things that can happen, I`m glad to know you no longer worry about the things -  reets80302 please note. As I said to you, it can be done.  Good luck.   0tt0
Avatar universal

Thank you for your kind insight! It feels very comforting knowing that I am not alone with this flutter funk. I guess I just need some time to  adjust to this new challenge of not getting excessively worried(panic) with every flutter. Ughhh, just as I am typing this....... flutter.

Thanks again!

Avatar universal
Sounds to me like you`ve just taken the first giant step forward towards accepting these rather annoying things. Always remember every time you get a bout of them that you`re perfectly healthy; your heart is perfectly healthy; they are quite harmless. By not getting wound up and accepting them with a worry and stress free attitude might also serve to reduce their frequency.     Everyone else that`s read this and the previous few entries - please take note!  It`s not as bad as you think!       0tt0
PS - I`ve had 5 or 6 "missed" beats myself, just while typing this bit.  Oh well - that`s life!   They`re better than a migraine headache!!
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.