Tach with skipped beats

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New Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 3/24/2008 6:30 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi everyone.  New to this forum but not new to some of the same issues that many of you are having.  I apologize in advance for the long post but I want to make sure that I provide all of my information in order to get some insight from other members who may have the same issues as myself.
I am a 29 year old male in otherwise excellent health.  It all began about 6 years ago when I was digging to level off an area where I was building an above-ground pool.  It was mid-July in Connecticut and very hot.  My heart took off at a very rapid pace but with a consistent rhythm for approximately 2-3 minutes and then all was normal again.  I was symptom-free for weeks after but made an appt with a cardiologist anyway since I have a significant history of heart disease on my father's side of the family.  Of note, my father died of a heart attack at age 41 so I'm sure you can appreciate my concern.  I was placed on a Holter, given bloodwork, and had an EKG and an Echo......all of which came back completely normal.  I was assured that my heart was structurally normal and as healthy as it could be.  Over the last 3 years or so, I found myself getting several skipped beats per week, sometimes more and sometimes less.  These beats were normally associated with an extreme sense of anxiety, almost like a rush of adreniline.   I explained this to my PCP and he felt no concern with respect to my heart.  Rather, he thought the issue was panic attacks and put me on a low dosage of Zoloft.  I gave the medication about 3 months and discontinued use, at the advice of my PCP, since I wasn't experiencing any change in symptoms.  I was placed on 50mg of Toprol XL to control the skipped beats.  I was feeling good until August of 2006.  While at work one day, I felt a skipped beat followed by a rapid heartbeat like I've never felt before.  Not only was my heartbeat extremely rapid but it was accompanied by skipped beats every few seconds making me feel like my heart was literally bouncing around in my chest.  I was terrified and started to panic.  I ran into the bathroom and tried splashing cold water on my face.  After about 1 minute, it eventually stopped and then started again 5 minutes later.  I grabbed my laptop and left work, driving straight to the ER, which is about 5 minutes away from where I work.  When I got there, my heart rate was around 180 and my BP was about 160/100.  They rushed me into a cardiac room and hooked me up to a monitor.  Although I was in complete panic mode, the cardiac personel didn't seem to be very concerned with what was going on on the monitor.  After about 60 minutes, my symptoms completely resolved with no medication having been administered.  I was told that I had an episode of tachycardia with PVC's.  I was also told that there was no damage to my heart and that, although scary, that this was a benign occurrence.  I was referred back to my cardiologist to discuss this episode. 
I got an appointment about 2 weeks after my visit to the ER.  Again I had a holter, an echo , bloodwork, and this time a stress test.  Again, all tests came back normal.  The Dr. said that my stress test was perfect; my oxygen levels and BP were good, my max heart rate was not exceeded and my heart rate recovery was excellent.  Again I was cleared and reassured that this episode was not a dangerous one.  My Toprol XL was increased to 100mg. 
I went back to my PCP simply to update him on the episode I had that month and he put me on 10mg of Lexapro since he still attributed my cardiac symptoms to panic disorder.  Of note, I've always been a very anxious person and my heart rate has always been a high normal.  The Lexapro worked well but I never really git rid of the skipped beats.  Since I've had every test under the sun, I simply dismiss them when they occur, like with excercise or when I'm nervous about something.  Thankfully, I have never had another episode like August of 2006 until today while driving.  I was taking my dog to the Vet when I felt a skipped beat followed by a very rapid heart rate with intermittent skipped beats.  I pulled over, leaned my seat back and after about 3-4 minutes, all was normal again.  I guess I'm still quite nervous of some underlying problem with my heart, despite the cardiologist clearing me twice.  I constantly have an anxious feeling and a heaviness on my chest.  I always feel like I can just start running and I can never seem to stay still.  I can almost always feel my heart beating in my chest if I'm quiet enough.
I really don't know where else to go and I just would like to know if any of you have ever experienced the symptoms that I've just described.  Any insight or information would be appreciated beyond belief.  Again I apologize for the long post.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 4031
   Posted 3/31/2008 7:19 PM (GMT -6)   

Hi Gary, Welcome to Healing Well.  I am sorry for the late post here, sometimes the cardio forum gets a bit slow so please do have patience with us.


Co~Mod: Depression
Moderator: Heart & Cardiovascular Disease

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 4/1/2008 1:23 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Gary,
I wanted to let you know that having an abnormal EKG is not that uncommon even in someone with a "healthy heart," and the EKG has to be reviewed very carefully while taking the patient's entire history into consideration. So even if the EKG machine says "abnormal EKG," it is not necessarily something to be very concerned about, especially since you've had a stress test, echo, Holter, etc.

Having erratic beats is frightening, I know - I've had some very scary arrhythmias as well - but in a structurally normal heart, with all your negative tests - most cardiologists would probably say it's extremely unlikely that there's anything wrong. HOWEVER, this is important: you have a family history of heart disease, so it's good to get your heart checked periodically. What did your doctor say about that?

Have you continued taking the Toprol? It is a beta-blocker, which has the effect of decreasing blood pressure and heart rate. I took a beta-blocker for a while - several months - when I was getting very prolonged runs of arrhythmia. I went off it because I tend to have a low resting heart rate and we didn't want it going any lower, but it did help with my arrhythmia. How did you find your symptoms responded to that medication?

I would definitely talk to your doctor again to see if there's anything s/he may suggest to keep your symptoms at bay, or if you notice any new symptoms occurring, or if you simply need reassurance. Sometimes a little reassurance goes a long way. I know how bizarre they can feel. I bet it's scarier always having your family history in the back of your mind...and so it would be good to get yourself checked periodically, especially if you notice new symptoms!

Best of luck!
Co-moderator - IBS Forum

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