Stomach burning and palpitations with GERD

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New Member

Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 11/9/2011 6:50 PM (GMT -6)   
I am an 19 year old male that has been dealing with various health issues lately and I really need some reassurance at this point. I don't smoke or drink. A few years ago I was rushed to the ER because of chest pains and I was diagnosed with esophageal spasm and GERD. I was put on Zantac 300 mg and it took the pain away for a long while. I continued to eat crappy food (pizza, hamburgers, spicy food) and started having pains that the Zantac could no longer take away. For months I ate better and cut down on my portions which helped a lot. All of a sudden, the pains returned

about a month ago, my GERD reached all new levels of intensity. I went back to the ER to make sure it wasn't anything serious and I was admitted to have tests run. I was placed in the telemetry unit stayed for a week with my heart constantly being monitored and vitals taken. They ran a few EKG's, nuclear stress test, chest X-ray, chest CT Scan, and a chest ultrasound. I was released after my results came back and I was told that my heart was fine. After my release from the hospital my primary physician recommended I have an Upper GI done. It showed GERD but nothing else.

For the past 3 weeks my stomach has been burning intensely after eating anything and I get a ton of intestinal gas and cramping that is made worse by sitting and walking. I spend a lot of time on the computer which only makes the pain worse. I get the most relief by reclining in my bed. Just yesterday I went back to the ER because my heart was racing as soon as I stood up or walked around. They ran another EKG, Chest Xray, and blood work and I was released a few hours later with a beta-blocker (Atenolol 25mg). It has really helped with the racing of my heart but I still get plenty of palpitations when lying down. I was told to skip a dose of Atenolol if my heart rate was under 60. When lying down, I have measured my heart rate using an oximeter and it has reached as low as 48 BPM when I am extremely relaxed and about to sleep. I certainly prefer my heart rate to be lower than racing like it was earlier, but is it normal to be this low when lying down? My blood pressure isn't too fantastic either (136/90) while on this new medication. I feel like I am about to lose my mind.

I have read that other GERD sufferers experience palpitations that may be caused by the irritation of the vagus nerve. I experience abdominal pain after eating the smallest of meals (tiny amount of rice or oatmeal, light broth). I am waiting for an appointment to see a GI doctor where hopefully the next test they will run is an endoscopy. This is the only test that they have not run on me as of yet. Has anyone else experienced these issues?

My day consists of burping, burping, and abdominal burning that is driving me up the wall. I figure the best thing I can do at this point is to relax, work on releasing some of my anxiety, and hoping for the best. Reading the experiences of other GERD sufferers on this site has really helped me know that I am not alone, but it does not take away the pain that we suffer.

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 11/9/2011 7:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello and welcome to HealingWell,
Yes many people have posted about having GERD and palpitations. When you experience heart palpitations, you become unusually aware of your own heartbeat and feel as though it is speeding up and possibley even skipping beats.  You might feel this sesation throughout your entire chest area and up into your neck.
To the best of my knowledge, neither GERD nor occasional heartburn will lead directly to heart palpitations. If you feel anxious about the chest pain that accompanies heartburn, however, and are worried that it is actually a heart-related problem, your anxiety could bring on palpitations. Heartburn can also lead to chest pain that may feel like heart palpitations but is actually due to muscle spasms in and around the esophagus.

The chest pain that accompanies acid reflux can feel similar to the heart-related pain of angina and, like the pain of angina, the pain from heartburn often radiates from your upper abdomen to your neck area.

To quickly assess the situation, pay close attention to the symptoms accompanying any chest pain or abnormal palpitations you experience. Nausea, sweating, squeezing pain and shortness of breath are symptoms that often accompany a heart problem such as angina, whereas regurgitation and a sour or acidic taste in the throat and mouth commonly accompany acid reflux.

It sounds like you have an extremely in depth work up - a whole week as an inpatient.  Hardly ever heard of where I am from so I would keep in contact with your Drs. and report any new sx. to them.

Did your Dr. ever mention anxiety as a cause of your palpitations ?

Again a warm welcome. 

Moderator: Anxiety, Osteoarthritis,
GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.

"only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be"

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 11/9/2011 7:37 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you very much for the warm welcome Kitt! The chest pain I experience usually lasts for a few seconds and is more of a "stabbing" pain than a squeezing pain. I also notice that my chest pain is usually followed by gurgling in my stomach. It feels sort of like gas stuck that is trying to escape somehow. Throughout the day I can actually feel air trying to come up which leads me to burping constantly.

My doctor has mentioned my anxiety being the likely cause of my palpitations but prescribed a Beta-blocker to bring down my blood pressure and heart rate. One of my main problems is my tendency to check my blood pressure and pulse constantly. I am hyper aware of body sensations and if I feel anything out of the norm I usually work myself up more than is necessary. With all of the tests I've had run on my heart I should really feel better about my situation but my anxiety definitely gets the best of me. As soon as I get palpitations my mind can't help but wonder "What if the doctors missed something?"

I do have shortness of breath but I was told that it can also be caused by GERD. My blood oxygen levels are fine and my chest X-rays came back clean of any pnuemonia or lung disorders.

I must admit, I do feel a lot more calm on this beta-blocker. I will keep an eye on my BP and contact my doctor if it doesn't go down on its own. I haven't had issues with my BP so I am hoping it is caused by the pain and anxiety I am experiencing. I just cant help but get worked up when my numbers are high.

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2011
Total Posts : 24
   Posted 11/10/2011 12:59 PM (GMT -6)   
@bossbrew - Your symptoms are very similar to what mine were, I also had heart palpitations and was put on a wearable monitor for 3 days. The results were normal.

Try reading what I wrote in the thread "anyone tried betaine HCl?". Also have you tried a good magnesium supplement? Having a poor diet and poor digestion can lead to a magnesium deficiency; symptoms of which include heart palpitations and anxiety. Other deficiencies can also cause these symptoms so getting nutrients in to your blood stream is imperative. A good multivitamin along with good digestion (for which stomach acid is absolutely necessary) might help you (it did me!). btw: I take Source Naturals Magnesium Malate 1250mg and Natural Calm powder with no calcium supplementation, as I get enough calcium and to much can make the magnesium deficiency symptoms worse.

The best part is this program is healthy for anyone (unless you have a condition such as Barrett's Esophagus. But this would be ruled out with the endoscope).

Good luck!

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 11/10/2011 8:55 PM (GMT -6)   
So I would like to share my story with you because it is somewhat similar. I started having anxiety and heart palpitations when I was 16 years old, I am now 23. I took zoloft for the symptoms and it helped. I weened myself off of the meds after a year and started trying to control my anxiety by exercising and doing activities such as yoga. over the past 7 years I have accepted that I will have palpitations and have learned not to let them bother me, although they still scare me from time to time. (No one likes feeling like their heart is skipping a beat or beating uncontrollably)

Over the past year though, I have noticed that the palpitations come on when I lie down at night, and if I adjust to different positions they stop. This seemed strange to me but I just ignored it. about two weeks ago I started having a tightness in my throat; it felt like someone had their hand around my esophagus and wouldn't let go of it. I had major difficulty swallowing so I decided to go to the Dr. He prescribed me allergy meds and referred me to an Ear Nose and Throat Dr for more testing.

Today was my appointment with the ENT and after sticking a long tube down my nose and throat he said that I have Acid Reflux. I have to go in next week for a barium swallow test, which I am not so excited about (kind of nervous); the test will ensure that I have GERD and what the cause is etc. Now I am beginning to think that what I have always thought to be heart palps are actually spams related to GERD!!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 4961
   Posted 11/10/2011 9:15 PM (GMT -6)   

Welcome to Healing Well.

The barium swallow is an easy test. Several swallows of the barium and change positions a few times and it's all over.

Take care,
Bill devil
Moderator: GERD/Heartburn
Nissen 6/06 and 5/09
#3 on 8/24/11

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 11/10/2011 10:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks Bill! Was the taste horrific?? (The stuff they shot up my nose today was...glad its over now!)

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2011
Total Posts : 119
   Posted 11/12/2011 10:34 PM (GMT -6)   
I have experienced the chest pain and palpitations. Hopefully you will get more answers after your scope. Turns out I have a hiatal hernia and now quite sure that is what is now causing the heart racing in the middle of a nap or about an hour after going to bed. Of course having the hernia keeps the acid going so who knows could be one or both.

All of my GI issues led to a lot of anxiety. I have found Meditation, hypnosis, CBT and acupuncture to be the greatest thing I did for myself through this mess. I started with GERD, then Hpylori, then an infected, stone filled gallbladder to a hernia. Good times, good times.

Best of luck to you and no, you are not alone.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 5028
   Posted 11/13/2011 9:03 AM (GMT -6)   
I have the palps, tachycardia, nearly always triggered by something I ate or drank or meds. When I get a reflux reaction it often triggers my heart - yes, via the vagus nerve. I've also had my colon trigger the heart into tachycardia when I had an abscess. The colon is connected by the vagus too.

I've worn all sorts of monitors, had lots of ECGs, nothing ever recorded except when I had a 5 hour episode and went to ER for cardioversion.

My food trigger is sulfite, but others have different triggers. I went to an experienced allergist who had seen this before and had me keep a food journal and do challenge testing.

I've posted about this many times. Please use the search engine at the top of the page and enter keywords like food journal or challenge testing. You can also find articles that explain the reaction if you google "cardio-esophageal relfex" (not reflux) or "linked angina."

This reaction is nothing to be poo-pooed, although my gastroenterologist and cardiologist had never heard of it. I originally started searching for the cause after my reflex triggered a heart attack. I had high cholesterol and clogged arteries, but that doesn't negate the fact that there was a trigger event causing my coronary arteries to spasm. The testing I went through showed that the heart attack was not the typical clot.

Another symptom I have had is chest pain on eating or drinking anything, when my stomach has been in my chest. It can feel like a heart attack, which I had experienced. My original chest in stomach was caused by an accident where the seat belt pushed my stomach, causing a paraesophageal hiatal hernia. Since the repair I had a vomiting episode and now have the feeling back. It is not seen on any test in which I have to have my stomach empty, but is seen on CT when I am allowed to eat. I believe it's a slider now.

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 11/13/2011 1:09 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone!

I would just like to say thank you all very much for your wonderful information and experiences with GERD. The last 3 days have been the best overall days I've had in over a month! My doctor decided to switch up my meds and started me on 2x Prevacid twice a day 30 minutes before meals. I can finally eat without being in absolute agony! A combination of medicine and Dr Koufman's Low Acid Diet is really starting to positively affect my stomach and esophagus. Purchasing her book on Amazon was the best purchase I have made in years. The awful burning sensation I used to get in between meals and right after meals? 95% of that pain is gone! Medicine like Prevacid takes time to work but if you remember to take the pills before you eat, it really helps!

I had a full abdominal ultrasound workup and all of my organs looked great. The doctors were really concerned with my pancreas and gallbladder but it turns out that I have GERD with gastritis and a possible hiatal hernia. I am scheduled for an endoscopy sometime next month. With this new diet and medication the wait wont kill me! I'm also experiencing far less palpitations and gas. From my mind to my body I just "feel" better. Do not give up hope, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I think I found mine!

New Member

Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 5/17/2014 2:43 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm glad to hear that, I have had the same issue and have been in and out if the hospital for about a month now and Have had all this work up on my heart. I have upper and lower GI scheduled and have had ultra sound and other worked up procedures. The beta blocker has been scary for me because of it lowering my blood pressure so much, so I'm going to try to wing myself off of that pill by taking half. The light on my tunnel I hope soon will come an end cause I can't take this anymore. I will talk to my doctor about what worked for you and maybe that will help me also. Cheers

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2012
Total Posts : 1178
   Posted 5/18/2014 4:07 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi miamiboy

This is an old thread but ill add my experience. My first ever gerd symptom was heart palpitations. Unfamiliar with it I thougt there was something wrong with my heart and underwent tests, everything fine. But my heart would race, thump in my chest and skip beats all the time.

Mr dr refused to give me a beta blocker, but after I developed stomach problems they put me on omeprazole for stomach acid. That pretty much stopped the racing heart and palpitation episodes I had so hopefully a PPI works for you too.

New Member

Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 5/27/2014 8:32 PM (GMT -6)   
wow! you know what? you are the first person story I heard that has the same issues as me. I have the similar symptoms. everything started when I transferred to the college almost two years ago. I used to be healthy, athletic, and in good shape, but when I started going to college and eating junk foods (pizzas, fast foods, pandas....) bought in school, I found myself loosing my balance and I couldn't breath. I rushed to the er almost dying. my blood pressure was very high (176/98). after a couple weeks, I couldn't breath normally while sleeping and couldn't no longer lie down on my stomach, which was my favorite sleeping position. my stomach was kind of big which was really uncomfortable. then started chest pains. Oh my God! it was awful. I cried a lot of time and the pain is difficult to explain. I went to the Er more than 20 times leading to huge and many medical bills from three different hospitals in my town and forced to drop school for a whole semester. I couldn't focus on studying. it gives me anxiety, palpitations, and discomfort. I undergo all the tests you mentioned in your post and my heart is fine. I took like 4 different types of blood pressure med until I got a new bp med called (edarbyclor) which stabilized my bp to a descent and acceptable range (111/89, 126/98, 117/87, .....) after while stomach issues took over badly and I started taking gas drugs and nothing; still the same. Then my primarily care physician referred me to a Gastro specialist for some med test. I did the endoscopy upper, they didn't find anything and last month (march 2014) did the colonoscopy ( nothing again). now have an appointment this may 30 and see if he can suggest me a ct scan for abdomen which I would consider as my only hope. sometime I even wish that all my test results come positive so we can figure out what going on with me or what is the disease, but all the results are negative. the only thing that came positive was the h pylori test, but the one week treatment killed the bacteria, but still my stomach is big and I burp a lot. and as you said for a little amount of food my stomach gets big like I ate a lot. I already cut acidic drinks such apple juice, soda, orange juice, regular dairy milk, but to me there is no physical improvement. sometime I can even walk, take stairs, or even run or walk fast on my own treadmill I have home because of chest pains, stomach bloating. i feel some pains all the way down in the back of my legs, have horrible headaches like my head gonna explode, also the back of my neck are killing me, feel dizzy when bow down for a while and stand up after or even after laying down for like 15 min when i want to go to the bathroom. man, i am 32 years old, and i am even scared to have normal sex activity because i don't know what might happened during sex because the abdominal pain kind of block my erection. lately i couldn't perform in bed with a girl and believe me it's frustrating. so if you read my post, please reply to me and let me know what exactly specialist you met have told you about these symptoms. and if is there anyone out there with more info about my concern, please write back to me so i can talk about this to the specialist. maybe it's a new disease, or this disease is know and can be cure. i don't know. but thank you guys.

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 47
   Posted 5/28/2014 8:17 AM (GMT -6)   
It is very interesting, my symptoms were similar to begin with - heart palpitation, tightness in chest, feeling of being suffocated, shortness of breath.. these all started at the same time with acid reflux and heavy stomach. At times it feels that my heart is actually in my stomach. After food (even small bite) i look down and see my stomach stick out and heart is working extra hard, then spasms of esophagus. There is probably everything to do with that vagus nerve. I feel tired most of the time. I feel good after sleep and rest, no symptoms at all... the symptoms get worse towards the end of the day predictably... i had all the tests done by now, i do not qualify for surgery, my McDee score is 2.4. Motility shows some "non specific" motility issues around LES. Treated with HPAC. Normal stomach emptying. Ba study showed some ulcers and reflux. Does anyone else have those very symptoms, how do you manage them? My acid is normal. i do not understand why do i need PPIs.
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