Heart Palpitations, Chest and Head Discomfort, Please Help!

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New Member

Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 5/6/2010 12:16 PM (GMT -6)   

Hi forum, my name is Peter and I’m 23 years of age. For the last two months I have been suffering from palpitations and various forms of discomfort in my back and chest which are unfortunately causing me to become very anxious and are greatly affecting my quality of life.


The problems first started when I was spending a few months away from home on business in America, I had been out the evening before and had consumed perhaps four or five cans of Red Bull mixed with vodka although had not been particularly drunk that evening as I had been drinking fairly large amounts of water in-between drinks.


The next day, whilst sitting at my desk at about mid afternoon, I started getting the sensation of what felt like a very rapid and pounding heart beat, and so I journeyed to the nearest ER dept. in the area. My heart rate was beating at about 120 bpm when I was received into the clinic (I expect it was doing perhaps a little more whilst I was en-route). Upon arrival I was given an EKG test – which proved to be normal – and when my heart had calmed down sufficiently I was released.


Over the four weeks that followed I made a further four trips to the ER room for much the same reason – although I had cut to virtually zero my alcohol and caffeine consumption as per the doctor’s advice – suffering primarily palpitations but the occasional sharp twinge of pain in the far left side of my chest (a symptom which has now disappeared).


When I returned to the UK from America I visited a Harley St. cardiologist who performed a further EKG, a stress-EKG, a cardio-graphic assessment (showing my ejection fraction – 67%), and wore a Holter and a seven-day event monitor. I also had at various times blood tests showing – from what I can remember – my potassium levels and the adrenaline production of my thyroid gland (for which a urine sample was taken). Further to that my blood pressure is normal, and I had at one point a CAT scan of my chest using illuminating dye to determine whether a blood clot was responsible for my problems (as during one of the five sets of blood tests I had done it was reported that a certain marker was present – the details I can’t recall), and I have also had numerous chest x-rays.


All the tests which were performed looked completely normal and there was not at any point a cause for concern discovered. The cardiologist explained to me that the heart structure and rhythm looked perfectly normal and that there was nothing sinister discovered on any front.


The problem is that I still continue to get the palpitations, albeit less intensely than before, and so I was hoping that perhaps if I could put some questions to the experienced people here (both to any doctors and to people who have had similar experiences!) that my concerns might be further alleviated.


My questions, broadly speaking, are:

1)I have been getting feeling of pressure, tenseness, cloudiness and general discomfort inside my head – particularly in the upper and lower jaw , sinuses and temples – for the last few weeks (noticeably) but on and off for the last couple of years. The pressure comes and goes and doesn’t feel particularly like it should be heart related although it does sometimes accompany the palpitations but usually outlasts them by some hours. Is it possible that this is heart related? I notice also that when my interest and attention levels are particularly piqued (rather than forced for the sake of i.e. work), the discomfort is often absent (although I don’t know if it is dispelled if already present).


2)I have been feeling sharp discomfort in my lower neck region (upper back I suppose!), left and right sides of my chest, shoulders and mid-to-upper back. The pain in my neck is made worse by moving my head backwards as if to look up, and the pains elsewhere can often by stimulated by pressing on the affected area so it appears to be surface pain predominantly (I presume heart pain would be deeper and likely more concentrated). Could this be related? A gut feeling is that this pain in particular – which has only been with me for about a week – is stress or tension related.


3)I have been for the last year very disillusioned with the work that I do and myself in more general terms, and am leaving the company which I work for (for the last six years) to take a break and try and remedy these feelings. I am also very anxious (even stressed) about various things – mostly related to uncertainty about religious and other existential questions – about which my parents who raised me were very certain and very strict in their adherence, and which I have recently come to feel more skeptically about (albeit in a guilty and tentative fashion). Is it possible that this anxiety and these negative feelings on the while could be causing the palpitations – although I should mention these played less on my conscience before the palpitations first started than they do now?


4)I sometimes get tingling in my hands, usually both hands at once, although suspect that this is related to ulna nerve compression resulting from mild damage which I did to the nerve about five years ago. The tingling doesn’t feel quite the same as the tingling which I had become accustomed to after the nerve was first compressed, but it does seem to be intensified when I am using my hands for things such as typing. Is it possible that this is related?


Your help, insights and answers are greatly appreciated – you have no idea how much this has been on my mind lately!


New Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 5/8/2010 1:40 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Peter, sorry to hear you're having problems. I'm just a regular person-not a medical expert but would like to offer my opinion. I joined this forum because of palpitations looking for comments from those that are experiencing them. Scary, to say the least.

I'm wondering if some of your symptoms are caused by anxiety? What you've described is similar...Plus the life changes you mentioned could certainly contribute.

Do a little more research and ask the docs about anxiety and meds to treat it. It might lessen your worries, too. Good Luck and feel better! VK

New Member

Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 5/11/2010 11:22 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi to all. I have just joined the forum.
I am now 65yo, and started getting palpitations, about 8 years ago. The first hospital that my GP sent me to, did all the usual checks, with all the wires and machines. They also gave me one of those 7 day monitors, that I had to wear, and press a button to record any irregularities. The end result was, that they declared that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my heart.
Meanwhile, in a second hospital, I was sent to, by my GP. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis. The consultant was a brilliant doctor, who left no stone unturned in his examinations and diagnosis. He noticed, in my blood tests, that my blood was rather on the 'thick' side. And took the trouble to recommend me to a Thyroid colleague. Log story short. They removed the largest chunk of over active thyroid, the surgeon had ever seen in his whole career.
Whilst recovering from the operation, I began to have palpitations again. So they kept me in for a few extra days, and put me on my first heart med. 'Bisoprorol Prefumarate'. I was then released. This was mid/late December 2006, just before Christmas.
On Christmas day, whilst getting ready to spend the day with my daughter. I had a TIA (a mini stroke) So ended up in A&E, instead of at the Christmas table. I was kept in for 4 days, in the hospital that declared that there was nothing wrong with my heart.
The hospital that did my parathyroidectamy. decided to do their own checks, on my heart. And subsequently found, first, that I had, not only, a 'Sticky valve' in my heart. But also a small hole, between two of the chambers.
No surgery of any kind has been suggested. So I have just been stuck on Warfarin, with the usual regular checks.
The palpitations have all but ceased. But they do return occasionally, quite unexpectedly. Sometimes accompanied by giddy, almost fainting spells.
Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of confidence in the doctor, I see at my Cardio clinic. They keep postponing my appointments. And any new sympton, I might mention. He's says or does nothing to reassure me. Usually just sitting there with a stupid grin on his face. My next appointment, is tomorrow.

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 5/12/2010 9:42 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello and welcome to HealingWell. I am sorry to read of your long struggles with getting a proper dx. I am glad to hear you are advocating for yourself as that is so important. If you feel your cardiologist is not meeting your needs is there an option of choosing a new one?

You should have a physician that you can build a trust relationship with and the one your seeing does not seem to be a good fit for you.

Please let us know how you made out at your appointment.



Mr G
New Member

Date Joined Nov 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/10/2010 6:49 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Peter,
I am not a person of a medical background, but as someone who regularly suffers from palpitations, I thoroughly sympathise with your predicament.
I have been through a number of tests over the years and it seems that, with my condition, I will end up needing a procedure called catheter ablation. This however is really a last resort.
There are a couple of other things I have tried in the past and that might interest you. I notice that you cite head and neck pains together with your palpitations. I know it sounds weird but there is actually a nerve in your spine called T1 which can become 'out of sync'. This nerve helps regulate heartbeat and can be put out if your posture is bad, ex: long time sitting at computer keyboard etc - I went to see a very good chiropractor and he tested me for this nerve and found that mine was indeed not quite right. This might require ongoing treatment and for me it seemed to work for a couple of days before reverting back. By that time my doctor had put me on beta blockers anyway and they seem to help. The thing with beta blockers is that, though they help, I think they really tackle the symptom, not the cause. If I were to come off of them, I am sure that the palpitations would come back.
I also tried various herbal remedies such as Hawthorn capsules and fish oil, which I take regularly anyway. Also magnesium, potassium or calcium supplements are supposed to help somewhat.
I am 33 and have had palpitations since the age of 15 - I have got no further nearer the truth about my palpitations with the Doctors in that time really. I will probably end up having a heart electrical pathway test and possibly ablation if feasible sometime thereafter. But, on the positive side, I am in the loop and am getting it looked at seriously finally. 
I hope that you get your condition rectified one way or the other as it is really not a funny thing to suffer from.

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 11/19/2010 12:44 AM (GMT -6)   
Hey Peter,

I am a new member to the community but thought I would throw out my experience with palpitations. I too had them start back in May of 2009 after a bout of somewhat heavy drinking. I was in a wedding party, but also had just finished graduate school the week prior. The next monday I began having a chest pain that I had never felt before and could not get to go away. It hurt more when I bent over or tried to lift something moderately heavy. I went to the ER and was basically diagnosed with heartburn. They gave me naproxen sodium (Aleve) which my current doctor wonders why I was ever given in this case. Anyways, the pain eventually went away after a day or two, but came back again after moving to Hawaii. My doctors here have given me a number of tests (EKG, ECG, chest X-ray, stress test, etc.) and found nothing but that I have a normal heart. I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which have since been taken care of (lowered cholesterol to a very safe level and have medicine to keep BP normal). I still get the pains however in the center of my chest, usually a sharp pain but also sometimes burning or moving around the vicinity of my chest. Two months ago I went to the ER because I woke up to heavier chest pain and due to being so anxious about riding in an ambulance or something being seriously wrong my BP skyrocketed to 170/110. I was put on new meds which seem to be doing a better job. I still have the chest pains daily and have the palpitations occur 2-3 times daily. It sucks, but I honestly feel that my current doctor hit the nail on the head with diagnosing me with COSTOCHONDRITIS. Its an inflammation of the chest and rib cage. If I remember correctly, this is a pretty common diagnosis but the main factor is that if you press on your chest and it hurts more or if it hurts more when in certain positions (lying on the floor, etc.) it is most likely costochondritis. I've been reading more and more about it and it sounds like palpitations are a pretty common occurence with this. This is likely due to the added stress from thinking you have a heart attack. I have to admit that I'm as bad as anyone in freaking out that I'm having a heart attack, but if you have had many tests done we have to reason that if something terrible was going to happen it would have shown up on one of the tests.

Also, we are both in our twenties (I'm 26) and judging from my knowledge of the brain and our arteries, we would need to be living a pretty crappy lifestyle to develop enough blockage in our arteries to cause a heart attack or stroke. It can happen but it is just so uncommon at our age (less than 1% even with a bad lifestyle such as being overweight). Next time you go to your doctor you may want to ask about costochondritis. As with any muscle pain, stress adds a whole other dimension to it! I have come to think that mine is caused from the stress of work and being so far away from my family. Hopefully you have found relief but if not I would look in to it further. I can answer some questions, but I am not a doctor. I work with stroke patients and patients who have had heart attacks resulting in speech and language impairments.

Hoping everything is well!
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