Heart Palpitations since age 9.: I have had... - Anxiety Support

Anxiety Support

51,291 members48,660 posts

Heart Palpitations since age 9.

babejoemickey profile image
36 Replies

I have had heart palpitations since age 9. Episodes of skipped beats and rapid heart beats on occasion that last from 5 minutes to 1 hour. Had all the tests: EKG, holter, Echo. I am 70 years old and the bottom line is that I am in extremely good shape(as per the cardiologist). No other symptoms. These Palpitations have come and gone over the years. Sometimes I know why and other times I have no idea. Been treated for anxious depression for last 20 years. Take Xanax and Prozac but lately the skipped beats have come every day. I cant tell my family and friends for 2 reasons. One is that they heard what the cardiologist diagnosis is and nobody asks me any longer. The 2nd reason is that most of my family is going through other illnesses and personal issues and I do not want to bother them. The only time I get relief these days is when I sleep or just sit down and try to relax. I don't think any body has any answers for me but I just thought I put it out there for anybody's opinion. Thank you.

36 Replies
Jeff1943 profile image
Jeff1943

Presumably your missed beats have been investigated by a cardiologist and you've been told that your missed beats are the kind that are not dangerous and do not need treatment.Missed beats are a well known symptom of anxiety. I get them during periods of high stress. Then in 2020 after I had Covid they came back full time, missing about one beat in ten. Cardiologist said they are not a problem. Then I read on a HealthUnlocked forum that Magnesium Citrate tablets (2 a day of 200mg strength) are helpful to irregular heartbeat. Some people said they had been recommended by cardiologists. So I ordered some online and started taking them.

Within a few weeks my missed beats stopped completely. Then about 5 months later they returned. I continued with the Magnesium Citrate tablets and after 4 months the missed heartbeats stopped again and have remained absent for the past 5 months or so.

I am not a medical professional so can't tell you what to do, I can only relate my experience and leave you to decide for yourself. Whatever you decide I hope your symptoms resolve soon.

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to Jeff1943

Thanks Jeff. I appreciate the response and somebody listening. First time I have ever communicated with somebody in 61 years that shared the same experience as me!

Jeff1943 profile image
Jeff1943 in reply to babejoemickey

There is an Arrhythmia Support group on HealthUnlocked you might find useful, lots of folk discussing missed beats.

Sophia__Colley profile image
Sophia__Colley

Hey. I also get them. I also have arrhythmia so it makes it worse. Sometimes it scares me,but I know it's due to anxiety. It's been worse these past few days,I just try to massage my heart and calm it down,whenever I get it. I've never gotten any treatment for arrhythmia tho. Found out about it during medical tests for judo competition and stopped doing it since then,bcuz my heart almost stopped during one

Jeff1943 profile image
Jeff1943 in reply to Sophia__Colley

Sophia, the Magnesiun Citrate supplement mentioned above is allegedly good for anxiety as well as missed beats.

b1b1b1 profile image
b1b1b1

I have premature ventricular beats. The echocardiogram test is perfect, but the holter monitor test does show the PVCs. My cardiologist has said that as long as they stay under 10% of total beats they are not a problem. There are a number of different types of extra beats, however, some requiring treatment and others not. I see my cardiologist every 6 months for a check up. You might want to do the same. Jeff also makes a very good point -- that they can be caused solely by anxiety.

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to b1b1b1

Thank you very much!

Jeff1943 profile image
Jeff1943 in reply to b1b1b1

b1b1b1, my missed beats were 10 to 11% and the cardiologist wasn't concerned and didn't think it needed intervention. He said to me:"We could give you two tablets which should prevent the missed beats but they wouldn't make you live any longer and do you really want to take two more meds every day?" So I didn't take the meds but then I discovered...Magnesium!

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to Jeff1943

So I bought the magnesium citrate today Jeff and will see what happens. Taking 2 per day gummies as opposed to tablets. Do you think that is OK ? Have read many posts on this forum. All different types of palpitation symptoms. I have gone a year without them at times but then under stressful situations, they come back. It seems that the only time they go away completely is when I am sleeping. I suppose that is a forced form of meditation? Seem stronger after I eat? Still taking Prozac and Xanax low dose for 20 years but not sure if my body has become immune to these medications. Heard about ablation procedures but not certain my "psych" can handle that since it is not guaranteed to work and the last time I was in the hospital for any type procedure was when I was 6 for tonsils.

😀. I am now retired fully, have 4 wonderful grand kids, love sports. Do ok financially but still under pressure with making ends meet. My father lived until 100 so I figure I have 30 years left

😅. I just need to see if I can get in a good place again without these skipped beats hurting my quality of life. Talking to therapists does not appeal to me because they just give you text book answers. I rather hear from people on this forum who have actually had palpitations and know what I am and have actually gone through since I was 9. Thanks to all!

Jeff1943 profile image
Jeff1943 in reply to babejoemickey

It's hard for people with missed beats to know for certain whether it's anxiety or some problem with the sinus node: the heart's natural pacemaker. But as your cardiologist is happy about your heart I would turn to the possibility that your arrhythmia is anxiety based.

If your missed beats are a symptom of anxiety then instead of trying to cure the symptom consider curing the cause.

When stress levels reach breaking point our nervous system becomes over sensitised and in this state can cause a whole range of symptoms that mimic real organic illness. This is assisted by the fact that sensitised nerves exaggerate every minor worry by the power of ten. Muscular tension in the chest must be the beginning of a heart attack, a stomach ache must mean cancer, a new boss means I'm bound to be sacked - always the worst case scenario.

So much so that even the removal of the original stress factor doesn't bring recovery: we have entered a circle of fear. Symptoms cause fear which causes more symptoms which causes more fear which causes more symptoms. Sensitised nerves thrive on fear and we have now entered a self perpetuating mode of anxiety.

The way forward is to lose our fear of anxiety symptoms by agreeing to accept them for the time being. Through acceptance you can disarm the second fear that follows the flash of first fear and with time we can desensitise our jangle nervous system.

The Acceptance method is part of the teachings of the late Doctor Claire Weekes as explained in her first book 'Self help for your nerves'* published more than 50 years ago. Weekes plan of recovery is based on four imperatives contained within 6 words: Face. Accept. Float. Let time pass.

This method has helped millions to reclaim their quiet mind and I commend her book to you which you can obtain new or used from Amazon or ebay for the price of a posh burger. It will bring you understanding, reassurance and a road plan for recovery. I think you would find her first book mentioned of great assistance in bringing about recovery.

*also published under the title of "Hope and help for your nerves" it's the same book.

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to Jeff1943

Thank you Jeff. I will certainly buy the book. What you say makes a lot of sense. I am convinced that there is nothing physically wrong with me. The issue that has plagued me all these years are the cycle of skipped beats that I experienced since I was 9. During this cycle I have also experienced a sudden rapid heart beat. It is disabling when it happens and a major relief when they end just as suddenly. I think that the skipped beats over the last 61 years have occasionally lead to the panic driven rapid heart beat sequence and I have now have it ingrained that each skipped beat could turn into a rapid heart beat sequence. When I was younger (and sometimes as an adult), it caused embarrassment to the point that I had to "Flight not Fight" what I was doing. Ironically I can still function fairly normally during a skip beat episode but at the same time it is in the back of my mind that a debilitating rapid heart beat sequence might occur. I agree this is all driven by anxiety since if I sit by myself and go into a total relaxation state(like Sleeping) or if I am so involved with a life situation, the skipped beats usually subside. I am not sure if it is to late for me to try and cure the cause even though it makes the most sense. I have been so frustrated with the latest episode that like I said in my original post, I faced my fear and did the entire cardiologist work up. Yes, I did feel better when they said my heart was fine structurally but I guess I thought that would make the skipped beats go away instantly. It actually did for a couple of days but I now realize that I only faced half the problem. As you said I need to some how deal with the cause. I kinda know what the causes are and I will not bother this forum with that so I will try and "let time pass" for now. Thank you!

b1b1b1 profile image
b1b1b1 in reply to Jeff1943

I also take magnesium citrate (150 mgs/day). I take it for constipation, though, so while it works for that it is probably not a large enough dose to help with anything else. Also it sounds like you have a good cardiologist!

Jeff1943 profile image
Jeff1943 in reply to b1b1b1

150mg of Magnesium Citrate is (almost) what I have been taking that has finally banished my missed beats. I started taking 200mg a day but then cut down to 150mg but now take 200mg again which I understand is the optimum amount for stopping missed beats. So maybe increase your dose to 200mg a day and see how it affects the beats.

b1b1b1 profile image
b1b1b1 in reply to Jeff1943

Thanks - will try. b1

CH951 profile image
CH951

I suffer from same had corovesion ablation then pacemaker but life goes on, theirs r others worse than us just enjoy 😉 🙃 🙂

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to CH951

Curious about the ablation. When you get some time can you give me a brief summary of how that went and if it helped? Thank you.

oscarfox49 profile image
oscarfox49

Your comment struck a chord with me, as I remember well running around my junior school playground at the age of 8 or 9 and having 'a funny turn' with palpitations. The family doctor in those days said it was just a 'heart murmur' and nothing to be concerned about and in the years later I was cross country champion in my school. I did lots of extremely physically demanding things. But now 76 and after very problematical years since 1995, with AF and more recently a stroke, I have often wondered if these things are just a natural progression in the heart aging and fundamental weaknesses becoming more difficult to cope with. I am fortunate that I have days when AF seems largely under control with sotalol, and others when I am breathless and can do almost nothing. I have never discovered what makes the difference! As you say, 'You are in good shape', presumably because you lead a healthy life style, and there is little more you can do than just continue with that. I force myself to walk three times a day for between 45 and 15 minutes and keep up activity even when it is difficult to do anything, as well as eating healthily. No cardiologist or doctor can really advise anything much better unless there is an actual physical injury which can be repaired.

I hope like me you will start feeling a lot better and start relaxing.

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to oscarfox49

Thanks for your reply. I guess there are other people out there like me. I live a very rewarding life and look around at my family and friends and feel guilty even telling them about this since all of them have one sort of issues either physical or personal. Nobody I know personally suffers these palpitations like me so this forum is a good way to get things off your "chest". Excuse the pun!

oscarfox49 profile image
oscarfox49 in reply to babejoemickey

Please don't feel guilty. A psychologist told me a large amount of the anxiety element came from NOT telling people how you feel and it is far beter to state bluntly: 'I don't feel right. I am suffering from atrial fibrillation or 'ectopics' (don't say palpitations as they are taken less seriously).

One of the problems may be (it is with me) alarm and concern about what others may think about you or the embarrassment of feeling ill, especially in a public place. But most people are very understanding and sympathetic and will make allowances for how you feel. You obviously know about THEIR illnesses and often a trouble shared is a trouble halved. Most of your relatives I am sure would want to know. When I go out with people now, I just say: 'Feeling a bit queasy with my heart problem today. Please excuse me if I need to leave early or anything.' and that is one way of reducing the anxiety. Nobody has ever said anything other than expressing sympathy.

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to oscarfox49

Great advice. I have never been one to do something like that with my ectopics which is ironic considering I am known to state my "opinions" in many other non self physical areas. Maybe I need to "borrow" some of that honestly and transfer it to my physical issues. Thank you.

Dixie9326 profile image
Dixie9326

Have you seen your cardiologist since they have been happening everyday? How often do you see him or her?

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to Dixie9326

Yes--I had a full work up for the first time in my life in June. All results were benign. The Echo was very positive. The narrative even said that I was in extremely good shape. That is what makes this a little more frustrating. I know the skipped beats are anxiety driven and so far there is not a "magic pill" to stop them. I know how to ease them by sitting quietly kinda like meditating but "life" will not always let me do this. They do not interrupt my sleep which is a good thing.

Hope4me1 profile image
Hope4me1

I have the same. Have had since I was a teen. Have been thoroughly checked with halter monitor and stress test recently and all was well with my heart. So what my cardiologist suggested is to start taking supplements of magnesium each day. I take 250 mg. It has helped. I am 63 and if I am more anxious, I get more skipped beats. But not every day anymore. I am also on Prozac and a small dose of Clonazepam. Hope this suggestion helps😊💕

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to Hope4me1

Thank you. Sounds very similar to my situation. I have had these since I was 9 but I guess "life" distracted me enough to get through the episodes. I agree when the good days or time periods happen, they are a god send!

kenster1 profile image
kenster1

I was getting them quite bad about a year ago then it settled down but now get them all the time but not as bad as last year had an ECG and nothing showed up.

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to kenster1

Yes--That seems to be the way they go. Cardiac tests for people with Anxiety usually only show benign results, which in the long run can be very frustrating when the skipped beats continue. Thanks for sharing.

kenster1 profile image
kenster1 in reply to babejoemickey

yeah she did say anxiety could be the main factor.

kama24 profile image
kama24

My story is similar, my irregular heart beat and PVCs started about 50 yrs ago. I have EKGs, stress tests, wore a halter etc and the cardiologists say it is nothing to worry about....but I do. Sometimes they last a few min, sometime hours. I take half an antenolol tablet at bed but they still occur. I have GAD and of course always fear the worse. I take Luvox and 1 ativan a day (9 yrs now) no help from panic or anxiety but no other suggestion from the phsyciatrist. Here is something I try, you might want to ask you dr. Do valsalva maneuvers

A valsalva maneuver is a breathing technique that can help restore a normal heart rate if your heart is beating too quickly.

To perform a valsalva maneuver, do the following steps in order:

Pinch your nose.

Close your mouth.

Attempt to exhale.

Bear down, as if having a bowel movement.

Perform these steps for 10 to 15 seconds.

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to kama24

Thank you. It is comforting to know that there are people out there with similar issues. I have heard about the valsalva method. I have not actually tried it during a rapid heart beat sequence. What is the % of success you have had with using this method. The irony of all this is that the cardiologist did not want to prescribe any meds for the skipped beats because I have a lower HBR usually. But I believe the MAIN cause of my anxiety over the skipped beats is that the rapid heart beat started to happen at age 9 and the skipped beats happened a couple of years later. (61 years and counting now). So if I can find out how to stop the rapid heart beat in a very short period of time, that could cause some relief. Thank you for your response!

kama24 profile image
kama24 in reply to babejoemickey

It is up and down the success I get, it is also said humming settles the vegas nerve. I often put a small ice bag between my writs and hold it. Often it will slow down the skipping, other times....nothing The older I get the more I get worried when the PVCs start. Old age is not all fun and games!

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to kama24

Yes--The older we get, the conscious we become of our physical issues. Good Luck to you. I will try anything at this point so humming is now on my agenda

😀

kama24 profile image
kama24

Like me, what does it hurt to try something non invasive. I hum before I fall asleep. An accupressure point for anxiety is located between your eyebrows. Use your thumb to apply pressure and massage in a clock motion. I hope it works.

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey

Thank you!

Babe1213 profile image
Babe1213

Hi babejoemickey - First of all I am not a physician of any kind. I am a Christian Lay Minister who believes firmly in the teaching of Christ, a calling I have been involved in since 1983. I also have, like you, had many years of suffering I had a stroke at 30, breast cancer twice first at 40yrs. second 45 (mastectomy) - followed by 35 years similar bouts of depression, anxiety, family problems (my husband, one daughter and 3 grandchildren have Becker's Muscular Dystrophy, one of those grandchildren is a twin, both of whom were born with weird and wonderful syndromes. The one with BMD also has Williams Syndrome, Gilberts Syndrome, Epilepsy, and disfigured feet (I can't remember the name of this condition) however he is allegedly the only person in the world with these complex health issues. The second twin is know as a SWAN - Syndrome without a name) and one of only 4 in the world. They could have been aborted before birth, my daughter chose not to. They were not to live more than a few years, and are now 17 going on 18. I have had other problems by the score. I have been diagnosed with the condition Atrial Fibrillation. I was not classed as suitable for heart ablation, as the AF is not with me permanently - it comes and goes. I don't know how I got to be invited on to this forum, an email just dropped into my inbox one day, and I try to answer as many as I can. My whole ministry has been about healing, wholeness and turning the negative into positive and being affirming and enabling to others. For some reason I was drawn toward your post, possibly because we are close in age, I shall be 75 in 4 months.

I am assuming that you are from the USA, the only reason I say this is because you mentioned EKG - in UK - where I am it is ECG. You also mentioned you did not think anyone can give answers - this is correct but through prayer God can. I feel that he is guiding my words now.

You have had various test over many years, and all come back okay, Why then are you not allowing yourself to accept this? Your heart is a very powerful machine, wired by electrics generated by your own body. Like anything electrical it has its faults.... in your case palpitations, sometimes you know what is causing this other times you don't.

I've been, done that, worn a dozen T shirts!

As your cardiologist has ruled out any cause for concern, it sounds to me like you, yourself are feeding the problem. What is likely happening at the times when you spend worrying about family or friends, your body produces a hormone called adrenaline and at times of anxiety/stress it releases into the blood stream where it either fights with you or fly's away, but it still has to work itself out of the system, leaving in its wake destruction, this for you and for the majority of people in the world, comes in the form of palpitation's, arrythmia, AF; or something similar.

You say you have been taking Prozac and Xanax - when did you last have a prescription revue? Both of those tablets, taken together, can be a wonderful asset, but there comes a time when they become too familiar in your body, and maybe need to be replaced with something - maybe more up to date. I was in a state like that about 4 years ago, and my GP refused a prescription revue, and said I should continue to take Paroxetine. Later that week I received a telephone call - quite out of the blue - from my cardiologist, to discuss a recent Holter test and asking how I was with the tablets I was taking. At that time I had, Bisoproll, Digoxin, Warfarin, Lisinoprill, Paroxetine, Metformin, Furosemide, Rosuvastin, Diclofenac. He asked me why was I taking all of those? Most of them I couldn't remember. I told him I had asked for a revue but my GP had refused, he then went on to revue my tablets, took out, Diclofenac, Paroxetine, Digoxin, also advising me how to stop these safely. He also suggested I read through all the information sheets, because most of the side effects were what was causing me to fibrillate, palpate etc. I did and was amazed. I have safely been off those tablets since then. I had also recently taken 20 full courses of anti-biotics, several different ones, back to back to back, for UTI's which have now gone.

With regard to your reasons for not telling your family how you feel when you have these episodes - family and friends can be your greatest assets or your worst enemies. Have you got someone, a good friend who will stick by you and support you regardless? Someone you can trust to keep confidences? That would be helpful. If not try to find a helpline such as this where you can actually speak, maybe a minister in a church, they are bound by confidentiality, we are bound by confidentiality.

I also see from the replies you have had, mention of Magnesium Citrate - people who have a well balanced diet should receive the correct amount of this in their daily living, and therefore not need a supplement, however sometimes this goes awry, and a supplement is necessary, but this should not be a permanent supplement, because having too much is as unhelpful as having too little. Cardiologists do indeed prescribe Magnesium Citrate, but it is monitored, and yes, I have tried that too, with adverse effects. Before taking this we really should have a blood test to ascertain our real 'need.'

With regard to your sometimes knowing what causes these symptoms - if the cause is stress/anxiety what do you do with that? Do you try and forget what is happening? Do you acknowledge the problem and tell yourself you'll deal with it later? Then promptly do nothing, because you can't face doing something? Or do you deal with the matter causing concern. If you deal the matter causing concern, you should then put the problem to bed, and move on. If you keep hold of what is causing concern, you have no-one to blame but yourself. Stress is always caused by something, and there is an answer to every problem. But YOU must take control of that. Don't leave it.

I see also from one of your responses you have grandchildren - what a tremendous asset they are! I have 15 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren, plus 2 more on the way, it was for them I decided to get myself 'right' and from that day onwards I change the negative daily into something positive. Get the good out of everything that is evil.

I hope these words are helpful, if there is anything you would like clarified, do please ask.

In the meantime, I will do what I do best for you and everyone who has taken time to respond to you, that is to pray!

Every blessing

babejoemickey profile image
babejoemickey in reply to Babe1213

Babe1213--You have hit me right on the button, even though we have never met and are an Ocean apart. The trials and tribulations you have gone through in your lifetime far outweigh my 70 years on this earth. I did lose a sister when I was 6, a grandfather, when I was 7, a grandmother when I was 12 and my mother passed away when I was 18. So I guess you can say that the health anxiety that continue to plague me started during this time. As my original post said my heart palpitations and general health fears started during these "loss" years so it is not difficult for me to see where this all began. Ironically my father lived until age 100 but had many mental health issues during his last 40 years. There is family history with mental health fears so once again that is pretty obvious where mine came from. My sister had her first bout when she turned 70 and another one just recently at age 78. We are both very strong mentally with supporting "other" people and I am particularly strong in supporting others since I have been through this cycle of health anxiety. Your words are encouraging and I give you credit on how you have come through all your "crosses to bear". I do try and pray as often as I can. As I said I am in a tough situation right now because I can endure the skipped beats or at least try but since I have had several episodes in the last 61 years where skipped beats have led to all out rapid hearts beats. Those sensations are real and disabling but they do go away any where from 5 minutes to an hour. I had one episode that lasted 2 hours about 30 years ago and actually went to a Urgent Call center. I asked the Doctor on call if I was having a heart attack and he said "No". About 2 minutes later the heartbeat went back to normal! Anyway just so you know, I have had not 1 skipped beat while I have been replying to your very gracious note. So for now the only thing that relaxes me instantly I guess is talking selflessly about my issues. Most of my support system are great people including my wife and friends but unfortunately when there was a time I did speak to them about my situation some of the responses I got were : "have a beer: "take a vacation". "just suck it up". I do not blame them for these responses because they have been so supportive in all other non anxiety aspects of my life. Well that is about it for now so I guess If I can spend the next 30 years or so talking about this, it is more useful than any medications that are out there. Once again thank you for your words of encouragement and prays. I will keep your response in my saved mail and refer to it often!

Babe1213 profile image
Babe1213

Forgot to add - to last post. Another way you can ensure you are okay! Do you have a 'smart phone?' Did you know you can get a 'do it at home ECG or EKG (depending on where you are) machine called a KARDIA - which you can use at home when you feel these palpitations going off - a quick test will tell you if you're ok - if you're not you can contact the medics, the reading will record and can be sent to them

You may also like...