My father has irregular pulse

Hi everyone. So my dad has recently been in hospital after complaining of chest pains. He had a minor heart attack 12 years ago and has been on medication ever since. Whilst in hospital he had several ECG's and an echocardiogram, which revealed no significance. They also did bloods and concluded that the pain was non-cardiac (he was in hospital for a number of days whilst he waited to have all the relevant tests). They sent him home, thinking he had a case of pleurisy.

His blood pressure and pulse have been fluctuating quite a bit though. One of his medications is Bisoprolol which reduces his heart rate drastically; a normal resting heart rate for him is between 38-46bpm and has been the case for many years. But recently his pulse has been increasing a fair amount (up to the 70's and 80's, and today it even went above 100, albeit after being active outdoors), and he's been feeling lightheaded. Earlier on, I checked the pulse in his wrist and it was very irregular. It seemed to stop for extended periods of time (must have been 3 seconds or so), to start beating again very rapidly. It was quite disconcerting to feel, as I often feel my own heart beating irregularly, but it has never been as irregular as my dad's at that point. 

At first I thought about the possibility of AF, but is this more indicative of something like Heart Block? Its very weird, and if I were to feel it in my own pulse I'd be straight to A+E again, but he doesn't seem too bothered by it. He's going to the GP tomorrow anyway.

Anyone have any similar experiences of such an irregular heart rate?



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5 Replies

  • Not being doctors, we would be unable to diagnose.  An irregular heartbeat is indicative of AF but there are other possibilities which only a specialist could diagnose from an ECG.

    May I suggest he lists all of his symptoms and goes back to see his GP and ask for a holter ECG - a mobile ECG which is fitted and you wear on your belt for 24 hours or 7 days.  This should capture any irregularities which a doctor would then be able to diagnose.

    It is certainly not something to safely ignore and needs further investigation, I would think.

    Hope you get some results soon,

  • Hi CDreamer. I wasn't asking for a diagnosis, I specifically asked if anyone else had any similar experiences.

    Thanks for the advice!

  • Yes, I have. In my case it was diagnosed as bradytachy syndrome, ie fast heartbeats followed by slow HB/pauses. I caught mine on an Alivecor but obviously the holter monitor would be much better to see what is going on in his case.

  • Update - Today my dad collapsed whilst getting up from a seat. He regained consciousness immediately so I think he fainted. I called an ambulance out and they checked did an ecg etc and found that he was in Atrial Flutter (or possibly fibrillation?). He's off to the hospital now. 

  • Let's hope that this episode - possibly nothing much - will provide an opportunity for a good look at the bigger picture.

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