Does anyone have an irregular heartbeat?

I have had an irregular heartbeat for as long as I can remember (I'm 54 now) and it gets worse with stress, alcohol consumption and exercise. When I jog at an easy pace on a treadmill my heart jumps all over the place, beats in my throat and generally I feel horrible. After 5 minutes, it calms down to a steady beat. On the days I run, which is around 4 per week, I am guaranteed to have a horrible night's sleep where I wake up thrashing around and sometimes this happens every time I fall asleep until I finally drop off. You can imagine that the next day I feel exhausted due to lack of decent rest. I have had many, many tests over the years including an angiogram last year and the results were 'normal' with no signs of heart disease or arterial problems. Does anyone else suffer from this condition and if so, is there anything which can be done to help? Thanks!

17 Replies

  • Sounds like you are experiencing atrial fibrillation, I have had this for many years. It came to the point for me where I was having difficulty walking for more than about 15 minutes. This was when I was diagnosed. I now take beta blockers which have made a real difference. I still have episodes as you describe but am able to control them. I started to take statins....huge mistake....because my GP advised it. Seems that you are more likely to have a stroke or heart attack if you suffer AF or irregular heartbeat and statins reduce cholesterol. Fom reading blogs on this site you will have gleaned that cholesterol isn't the baddy here. My GP is now trying to persuade me to take warfarin....and if anyone reading this has an opinion on this I'd love to hear......but back to you, Skintight, what are you doing already, are you taking any medication? It seems that your irregular heartbeat isn't causing your doctors any concerns and presumably you have had ecg's to rule out AF. If your heartbeat is causing discomfort then you need to do something....either develop strategies to control it or perhaps take some medication.

  • Hi EveC. Thanks for your reply it's much appreciated. I have had many ECG's, and recently had ultrasound examinations which have all shown up ok. They can see the irregular pattern during the ECG but have diagnosed it as a benign condition which, whilst causing discomfort, is not dangerous. I don't take medications and my heart rate in the morning when I wake up is around 40-50 bpm. The only way I can stop the discomfort is to stop running, stop alcohol / caffeine and remove stress. That's easier said than done and exercise is important in keeping fit and keeping my weight at a manageable level. I hardly drink alcohol although but I do enjoy 2-3 cups of coffee per day. My diet is very good and I regularly eat less than my calorific daily requirement specifies I should. I just wish I could find something which would allow me to get 6-8 GOOD hours sleep at night without taking sleeping pills.

  • Hi could be a contributor here....have ypu tried reducing or decaff....I know that will be hard, I like coffee too......have you tried drinking aloe vera before bed? If you try that it has to be a good one...FLP is the only one imho.....

  • Thanks again Eve, I will cut out coffee for a couple of weeks and see what happens. I'll try the aloe vera also. :-)

  • My husband had atrial fibrillation for several years. He was prescribed warfarin as the anticoagulant would prevent clots forming and reduce the possibility of a stroke. He didn't experience sleeping problems, although AF is often associated with sleep apnea.

    He limited, and still limits, his coffee to one a day, a good filter coffee with cream added.

    Would something like meditation help reduce stress and help with sleeping? Has your doctor any suggestions about exercise? Are there alternative exercises you could do? Resistance training?

    My husband had two unsuccessful attempts at having his heart restarted, and eventually ended up with a pacemaker, which has given him a new lease of life.

    Good luck with finding a solution Skintight.

  • Hi Penel, thanks for your reply. I don't think it's AF as I'm sure that shows up during ECG's. I am office based and if I sit for a while and then get up and walk my heart does all the flips and jumps. I jogged last night and it still hadn't settled down after ten minutes and I stopped. I used to do weight training until 18 months ago so maybe I'll start up again. I went to bed at 9-30 last night and fell asleep straight away only to wake up at 11-45pm with my brain in overdrive. I then fell into and out of sleep about 20 times after that, woke up at around 6 and then fell asleep again until 7-30am. When I awake my brain is scrambled and I'm confused. Perhaps I need to go to a sleep clinic and get the sleep patterns analysed. However, I live in Dubai now and that would be expensive and not covered by medical insurance.

    I hope your hubby continues to enjoy his new lease of life as that's exactly what I'm searching for.

  • Hi Skintight,,try taking Passiflora (Passion Flower) an hour before bed,,it works for me and is gentle with no hungover feeling in the morning,,,I have powerful irregular heartbeats and do manual work two days a week,,,I am researching the connection between heart problems and bacteria such as Pylori Bacter which is connected to Ulcers,,,I've started chewing Salvadora Persica (Toothbrush Tree ) which is antibacterial,,there has been a marked decrease in my problem since i started doing this,,,,you should have no problem getting this in Dubai if you wish to try it...Regards.

  • Hi auralius, many thanks for your response. I had the Pylori Bacter bug and went through the eradication programme this year as the cardiologist mentioned that the heart can be irritated by this bug and this can lead to irregular rhythms. I have not heard of Passiflora but I'm willing to try anything at this stage because the lack of good sleep is contributing to the cycle of problems.

  • Hi bigleg, thanks for your response. I have often read about the benefits of increasing magnesium and discussed this with the Doctor. He said the blood tests did not show a magnesium deficiency and therefore there was no need for supplements. However, I have also read that magnesium deficiency does not show in blood tests. I do eat a lot of the products which provide magnesium apart from spinach and nuts. I note that it can be unwise to take magnesium supplements when your body is not deficient. It's so confusing!

  • A banana a day gives you your daily requirement of magnesium and zinc! I wonder if your heart irregularity in part could be caused by stress. Have you thought of going to yoga or pilates classes? I know you think perhaps I am a loony but stress, I think, can be the major cause of many physical problems, and using such relaxation techniques may go in some way to reduce the stress levels and enable you to get your heart back under your control. Breathing techniques and relaxation exercises are taught in both disciplines and may be worth a try. Both yoga and pilates classes are held in you local area so search them out and give them a go if you would like. Best of health to you.

  • certainly not loony, Patch....stress has an awful lot to answer for, it is a contributory factor in a lot of physiological and neurological problems. The issue is what can we do about it....more often than not nothing :( That's life! Do our best to minimise it....

  • Hi skintight. My nephew suffered many of the symptoms you describe and, at a very young age, had a pacemaker fitted - which he now describes as his "best friend". I am sure, if this had been the solution for you, the medics would have suggested it before now.

    My lifelong belief has been to listen to my body. It does sound as if yours is trying to tell you something. Perhaps you should try the recommendations suggested to you by members of this forum, for a month at a time and monitor how each thing affects your symptoms. Best wishes - and please remember to give us feedback.

  • Hi Skintight,

    I have had what feels like missed beats and racing heartbeats since my late 20's (am now 54). They vary from sometimes just a few a day to other times around every 30 seconds for hours on end, which can be very frightening as well as leaving me feeling very "odd" and dizzy. I have had several ecg's etc and have been told they are benign.

    One thing I have noticed though, is apart from getting them when I am stressed, they are much worse when I am eating rich foods, such as pies,dairy,puddings,cakes and alcohol. Yesterday I eat a sausage roll, cauliflower cheese and a piece of gluten free cake and had the most awful palpitations all day and indigestion all night. (I am normally quite careful about what I eat lately due to high cholesterol, but slipped badly yesterday). I have had several episodes of Gastric Reflux disease, needing to take meds (lansoprozole) in the past. So am wondering if diet plays a part in this? There is apparently a nerve called the Vagus nerve which is stimulated by acid leaking from the oesophagus which can set off palpitations. For me, wheat/oats/barley/rye seems to set palps off too, so I am going to experiment with a wheat free and possibly grain free diet. I see you say you have a good diet. Not sure what you eat exactly, but it could be worth looking into?

  • Hi deepblue and many thanks for your response. You won't believe this, but just today I have been thinking of gluten fee diet or cutting out on exactly the same things you mentioned. I also have used anti-acid medications in the past due to a stomach ulcer which has been eradicated now. I also notice a huge increase in the missed and pounding beats after having a night out on alcohol which is why I hardly drink at all now. You're also the same age as me which is scary, perhaps you are my erstwhile unknown twin!

  • I have eaten gluten free for over 10 years because of coeliac disease. It can be quite difficult! Do some research perhaps before you commit, you wouldn't believe the amount of food that has gluten added. Ready made gluten free food also tends to be full of sugar and other additives, making it quite unhealthy. If you want some alternatives to wheat have a look for quinoa or buckwheat, and there are other alternatives out there. Perhaps have a look at paleo diets for some grain free suggestions for meals.

  • You know, and this may sound a bit "out there" I think you have a food intolerance! I would suggest that you look at some websites and I recommend "York Test" a UK based company that does charge to test for food intolerances. Drs are very sceptical about "intolerances" as opposed to "allergies" and are not interested (at least mine wasn't) except to advise on a food diary and omitting foods until you find what is causing the problems. Because I ended up eating virtually nothing I, finally, at my husband's insistence used the above company to find out my problem. I was dairy intolerant and since omitting this from my diet I am able to eat normally again and feel better than I have in years! It does cost a bit but the peace of mind it has given me and the feeling of wellbeing I have now is worth every penny. Good luck to you. Not everyone who has these symptoms is intolerant to gluten, and I think it would be a good idea to track down what exactly is causing your problems. Best of health to you.

  • Hello,

    I to have had this same problem in the past. It can be caused by medication,HRT for example. Or hormones of any sort.I guess you already do not drink to much or even any coffee?

    It is a vicious circle the more you worry the more irregular it gets,I was told it was caused by adrenalin.

    Don't worry you have had the necessary checks they would have picked up on it if it was a real problem.

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