64 yr old female

Hi, I have been experiencing wild palpitations on and off for 4 years and recently had a fast pounding heart which has been very frightening my last one was last night, I slept for around 3. Hours then could not sleep, made a decaf coffee, cheese scone & 2 paracetamol as I had a fuzzy headache. My pulse went to 120 for approx 1. Hour. Finding this site helped me to calm down and I'm wondering if anxiety and stress can be my key factor. I have many stressful situations going on in my life at the moment even though I am happy.

8 Replies

  • Hello Diane and welcome. Firstly you need to find out if you just have a racing heart (tachycardia) or an irregular rhythm. Arrhythmias come in lots of shapes and sizes and our particular area of concern is atrial fibrillation which is an irregular irregular rhythm best seen as a chaotic line on an ecg but which can be detected on your pulse. Why not go to AF Association main website and find out how to take your pulse. Missed or extra beats (ectopics) are not Atrial Fibrillation but can be just as upsetting particularly when they come in clusters.

    If you merely have a fast heart beat (tachycardia) this can often be stopped by the Valsalva manoeuvre when you close you mouth. pinch your nose and try to blow out as hard as possible, Slowing your breathing down , using your diaphragm and trying to maintain lower than six breaths a minute can also help particularly with ectopics.

    I would suggest that you do speak to your doctor and see if you can get an ECG done next time you feel these "palpitations" whatever they may be. That catch all word is not really very helpful as it can cover such a wide variety of things. meaning merely that you are aware of your heart beating.

    Read all you can on AF Association main website as knowledge is power and can help you to engage with your doctor. Regarding stress , yes of course anything which upsets the balance of your body can trigger all sorts of things if you are so pre-disposed..

    You do need to get to the bottom of this as if you have AF then you need to be treated as it will only progress.


  • Thank you very much for your reply Bob, I was diagnosed with an irregular heart beat 4. Years ago. I had a heart scan as I felt my heart jumping frequently, the specialist didn't want to put me on any medication. This subsided over time and I put it down to stress .

    I will see the doctor as you advise and take it from there Thank you.


  • Hi Diane,

    Yes, anxiety and stress can be contributing factors. I had a long time of palpitations, maybe a year or so, then AF hit. Sent to A & E and heart rate hit 160. But, in my non medical opinion two things emerge - the cause of AF and triggers for AF. Again in my view the two are quite different things. the cause of AF can be stress/anxiety but it can also come from a genetic predisposition to AF. Can you, for example, pick up within the family a history of strokes, or heart issues - mechanical or electrical, or high blood pressure.

    Triggers for AF can be caffeine, or alcohol or food - actually, almost anything. It'll be interesting to see what others say as and when they reply to your post. The problem is for the medical world what to treat - the cause or the trigger.

    My cardiologist treated the AF itself, with medication. Four months after diagnosis my AF event became directly related to food I'd eaten. I went to a Nutritionist and she came up with a diet which even today is very much a work in progress and I've had no AF event since April 2015. AF - food - is related to a Vagal Nerve issue.

    AF is all things to all people - no one size fits all - remember that when you read the comments of others.


  • Dear John, your reply has been very helpful and given me food for thought. I do believe in self help so will think about my diet which is on all accounts a healthy one but I am wondering if cheese may be a factor. I will however get a check up as my Father had heart problems leading to a pace maker and Aneurism being repaired also my brother has a pacemaker. I was diagnosed with an irregular heart beat 4 years ago but no medication given.

    Thank you again


  • Hi Diane,

    BobD has raised some very good points and he has been giving such wisdom for over 7 years. I first "met" him when I came on the forerunner (and now defunct) of this website in 2010 hosted then by Yahoo.

    My diet is not a diet as such, like a weight loss diet, rather a food intake plan. Designed to combat symptoms that emerged after I'd eaten and which triggered an AF event. The symptoms were massive bloating putting pressure on and around the heart, it was like a tyre being blown up ! then burping, intestinal gurgling and diahorrea. Not all at the same time - all quite at random. The bloating was by far the worst and would rapidly push up my blood pressure from a normal average of 126/70 up to 160/90 in hours and would take around 5 days to drop back to normal again. In between times I'd feel crap for 5 days.

    I have read from posts on here that cheese can be a trigger. I can only eat 'hard' cheese like Edam, any soft cheeses (like Brie) and yoghurts are off the agenda. Similarly, raspberries are out, strawberries are in ! No green beans, baked beans and peas ! It has been quite a saga.

    Basically, I am gluten free, wheat free, oats free, sugar free and pick bits out of the FODMAPS diet.

    Good luck Diane in whatever path you choose to take.


  • How horrendous for you John. I am wondering if cheese may be a no no for me but we shall see. Thank you again for caring.


  • Taking digestive enzymes and probiotics (both from a health food shop) should decrease some of these symptoms over time, so that you can eat more. Also you may have developed an 'intolerance' for some of these foods. This can be overcome by eating nothing of the offending foods for three months or more - see the writings of Patrick Holford.

  • Thank you, I will read PH writings.

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