British Heart Foundation

Worried about palpitations/cardiomyopathy

I have had palpitations for years and years , since I was about 12 years old. I have also had an anxiety disorder for around the same length of time (OCD and generalised anxiety).

I have a lot of ECGs and a 24 hr recording taken, the 24 hr one showed some PVCs and PACs but nothing to be concerned over.

I usually find caffine or adrenaline spikes trigger them, also hyperventilating and sometimes exercise. Embarrassingly enough I always get them during/after an orgasm. Also get them when relaxed (if I am ever relaxed really) and trying to sleep. Often I feel faint or off balance , sweaty and my nose goes numb. I've had two such episodes in the last two weeks, one was triggered by a very fast walk uphill that exhausted me and when I stopped I felt faint and skipping beats. The other I was walking home and just got more and more overwhelmed until I was in a blind panic. It's often in a combination with swallowing air , needing to burp a lot but sometimes its just a skip that makes me startle and cough, or a thud when I stand up from sitting position. Usually happens 5 - 10 times a day, sometimes more frequently and once felt 3 or 4 in a row.

I thought both times in the last 2 weeks that was it for me and got in a terrible panic. I am trying to tell myself if it was it wouldnt resolve simply by sitting down and taking a few deep breaths (as it does , although last 2 have been harder to calm down over).

I have spoken to doctor numerous times and they're not concerned. Told me I am taking panic attacks and to try mindfulness.

However a relative (my mother's twin brother) has a suspected cardiomyopathy (ARVC they thought) and had an episode of VT during sustained intense exercise. He is 26 years older than me and didn't show symptoms until 3 years ago. He has an ICD.

My mum was given a treadmill test and echo and a review by an electrophysiologist and told she's grand.

I on the other hand don't sleep at night and I don't relax. I don't exercise because I am so scared. I have horrible visions day and night of what may happen to me. If I see a defibrillator in public I panic. I worry I'm having premonitions. I can't go out without worrying . I obsess over it and have for a long time but some periods are worse than others . I self medicate with cocodamol to sleep.

I'm at a loss of what to do and where to turn. I considered using my (minimal) savings to find a private cardiologist and ask for their help. I don't have the confidence to ask a doctor to refer me and they always just say I'm fine. I really don't know what to do but this is taking over my life. I'm sorry for the long post, longer than I expected , but haven't discussed this much with anyone bizzarely. Even the doctors surgery I dont tell.

2 Replies
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Hello Sept, sorry to hear of your troubles. Sounds as if you have already had tests and they show no areas of concern with your heart. Perhaps you should ask your doctor to help with the anxiety attacks you are clearly suffering from. If you can control these I'm sure it would help alleviate your palpitations.

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Hi,

I am sorry to hear that you have been going through this difficult time and experiencing these symptoms.

ARVC is an inherited condition, which means that it's passed on through families. It is caused by a change or mutation in one or more genes. The chances of inheriting ARVC vary, and you might inherit the mutation but not develop the condition.

The symptoms include-

•Light-headedness

•Fainting

•Breathlessness

• Palpitations

We have more information about this form of cardiomyopathy on our website.

I would recommend mentioning this to your doctor to see whether they want you to be referred for screening (an ECG and echocardiogram scan in the first instance) like your mum has had.

To chat to a cardiac nurse, please call us on 0300 330 3311 (calls are a similar cost to 01 or 02 numbers). The Heart Helpline is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Best wishes,

Emily

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