Avatar universal

Undiagnosed mysterious collapse

10 years ago something very dramatic happened to me, and I still have no idea what it was. I’m writing this because I hope you can clear it up for me, and tell me what exactly it was that occurred. My English is not perfect as I am Scandinavian, but I think it should be good enough for you to understand. At the age of 17 I was hanging out with 3 friends. We were at my friends house watching tv. I remember that I had a mild migraine that day, but cannot remember if I took paracetamol or ibuprofane to cure it. Nonetheless, the time was 9.00 in the evening when we decided that we should smoke waterpipe (hookah). This was sort of a tradition in our friends group. I had done this many times before, and I can guarantee with 100% certainty that there were no narcotics or illegal drugs in the tobacco. It was normal, fruity, hookah tobacco. Furthermore, I did not smoke much because of my headache. It simply wasn’t very enjoyable as I was in pain. At around 11.00 in the evening I decided that my headache was getting the better of me, and that I should get home and go to bed. It was only a 10 minute walk home, and I figured a breath of fresh air might be good for me at this point. 1 of my friends needed to catch the bus, so he walked with me. It was the month of the December, and very cold outside. I do not know the exact temperature, but I would estimate that it was probably something like minus 5 degrees Celsius, and I remember that “frostfog” came out of my mouth when I exaled.  After we had walked for no more than 1 minute, I started feeling really bad. My headache had increased dramatically, and I can honestly say that my head had never been in that much pain ever before. Then I started to feel very nauseated. In addition I could feel my muscles starting to weaken. I became very afraid, and told my friend “something is happening to me, I think I am going to faint or something.” He looked at me nervously and said “I got you man.” Then my balance and coordination disappeared and I collapsed to the ground. My headache was still extremely painful. I was laying flat on the road, but I could not feel anything. I was awake, but 100% paralyzed. It is without a doubt the most frightening experience of my life. Then I could hear my heart, and I became even more afraid. It was unbelievable. I have been active in sports all my life, and I know a high pulse and high heartbeat when I feel it, but this was something different. My heart was pounding at what I can only describe as a superhuman tempo. I am very knowledgeable about training, pulse, heartbeats and physiology as I have studied both physiology and psychology. I am by no means an expert, but I have basic understanding. And when I’m in the gym training hard on the treadmill I can reach 200BPM. When I was lying paralyzed on the ground I would say that my heartbeat was more like 600 BPM, and it kept going like this for about 10-20 seconds. I do not know whether this is possible or not, but I swear, that was what it was like. It was crazy. I could think clearly, and hear my friend talking to me. I did not talk back however, I just laid there paralyzed, but at the same time in agony. It felt like my chest was going to explode, but it did not hurt. What did hurt however was the headache, which reached its high during this point. Then something remarkable happened. About 30 seconds after I had the collapse, my heartbeat slowed down dramatically. In fact, I would estimate it went from superfast to normal BPM in about 10 seconds. At the same time my sharp headache pains just went *poof,* and they were gone. I went from extreme headache to no pain whatsoever in 1 second. It was almost like someone flipped a switch. And then just as fast as my muscle movement had disappeared, it came back. I stood up, obviously in shock, but it was almost like I had been “reset.” I had no pain at all, and felt 100% healthy. My friend that had helped me through this was as shocked as I was, but handled it pretty well. We started walking towards my home. 5 minutes later I was there. I went to eat supper, but was still very baffled and shocked over what had happened. My dad noticed that something was wrong, so he asked me what had happened. I told him, but he didn’t take me seriously.
To this day it is still my biggest regret in life that I did not immediately go to a doctor or hospital. I guess I was still in shock and just didn’t know what to do. 6 months later I had my first anxiety panic attack. I have a type of panic anxiety were I think I am going to die, and I am 100% sure that it is this situation that has provoked this anxiety and cause it to express itself. Every time it is cold outside, and I exhale “frostfog”, I am reminded of the situation. This makes even taking a stroll under that kind of weather conditions become a mental challenge for me. After a few tough years, I have now been relatively healthy and anxiety free the last 4-5 years, but it is always in the back of my head, and I rarely go a day without wondering what exactly happened to me that day. I fear that my anxiety will never go away completely, since I have no answer on what happened that day. I still feel like there might be something wrong with me, and it really bothers me that I still don’t know what it was that happened. I had a doctors appointment about a month or two after the “incident,” and told him about him. But he did not take me seriously, and no further inquiries were made about it. I also told another doctor at one time, but it seems like they automatically blame the hookah and think that I used drugs or something. But the fact is that I did not. They didn’t seem to understand that I really wanted an answer to this, if I had taken any drugs I would have told them. Also my headache that day started way before we smoked hookah.
I am now a 27 year old male. I consider myself to be quite normal physically. I work out 1-2 times a week and play soccer 2-3 times a week. I am 1.80cm in height and 90kg in weight. I have no allergies or illnesses, and have never suffered any other serious illnesses besides my anxiety. I will point out however, that I do suffer from migraines from time to time. Most of the time it is enough to take ibuprofen or paracetamol and it goes away, but there are sometimes were the migraine is so strong that it does not help with these medications. My mother suffers from very strong migraines, and has not been in work for 10 years because of this. Otherwise, there are no family diseases. I hope you can give me an explanation of this phenomena, or at least point me in a direction.
Best regards, Alexander
3 Responses
8271277 tn?1397395007
Wow - the "good news, bad news" is that even had you gone to a doctor right after this episode, they may not have been able to tell you anything, since things - like your heart rate - were back to normal.

It sounds, though, like you had an episode of PAT - paroxysmal atrial tachycardia - where the heart suddenly goes very, very fast - and if fast enough, it will drop your blood pressure and cause you to collapse. Factors that could have contributed to this episode would be pain, nicotine, and possibly caffeine if you had been drinking coffee (etc.) or if the headache medicine you took had caffeine in it, which many do. Also - if you had not eaten, all of these things could also have triggered a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episode, which could have even occurred along with the PAT. PAT will often resolve as suddenly as it comes on.  Why the headache would have resolved at the same time is unclear - but migraines are caused by spasm of an artery, and it could have been that all the weird things going on with this episode also caused that to resolve. Your body would have been generating lots of different fight-or-flight type hormones like cortisol. Generally the only way to find out about such episodes is to have someone wear a cardiac monitor for 4-5 days - but unless they have an event, it won't answer the question. I had a patient who had occasional severe coughing spells sometimes when he swallowed.  "This coughing almost makes me pass out" he said.  He had been evaluated by a GI specialist, a pulmonary specialist, and others. Nothing could be found.  Then one day he was in the hospital the day after having surgery - hooked up to the monitor. He told me later: "gee, I had one of those coughing spells, and the next thing I knew, my room was full of people and equipment - they told me that my heart had stopped".  So he had a weird reflex that actually caused asystole (heart stopping) sometimes when he swallowed. He received a pacemaker before he left the hospital!
Avatar universal
  I did some research on Migraine headaches and it seems that you might benefit from Lachesis.  It is a migraine treatment made from the poison of a venomous snake the bushmaster.
    It has some properties that also help the heart - you said both your head and heart were involved.  Please do some research on this natural supplement.   I am not a doctor, but did some simple research.
     Wishing you the best.   PS  you might benefit from other supplements, too.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your suggestion sblythe. I have just now sat down and read a little about PAT, and it does sound quite similar to what I experienced. Having looked for something that could explain what happened to me, this is by far the closest/best explanation for it I have had. And, like you said, it is doubtful that a doctor would have found out what happened, since everything went back to normal, and have been normal for 10 years now! It's just that the experience was extremely frightening for me. I mean I was 100% sure that i was going to die! But thanks again for your response, I will do some more research on PAT :)

Unfortunately, since it was long time ago, I do not remember all the events that occurred that day (whether I had consumed caffeine, or had not eaten for example).

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