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Arrhythmia Alliance
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Increasing episodes

I’m a 20 year old (otherwise healthy) girl. My episodes have been increasing of what I believe to be SVT. I’ll feel it coming on and a lot of times it happens when I first wake up in the morning. My heart will start to race and it’s accompanied by nausea, sweating, chest pain, chest and neck tightness, lightheadedness/dizziness and uncontrollable shaking/trembling. I’ve been to the ER several times and had a series of tests but none of the tests have been able to catch it. My bpm usually lowers by the time they get the ekg on me. The highest they’ve gotten my pulse at the ER is about 130. I’ve had 24 hr Holter monitors but of course I didn’t have an episode while it was on. I’m extremely frustrated and hopeless because many doctors have blown me off and told me it’s anxiety, although these episodes happen when I’m completely calm, and have even woken me up from sleep. Anxiety meds like Ativan calm me down but don’t stop the episodes. They have been increasing a lot lately too. They used to just happen every few months to every few weeks to pretty much every day now. I’m scared that each time it happens my heart won’t be able to take it and I’ll die. I’m living in extreme misery and fear every single day and it has completely taken over my life. Does anyone have any advice on how to stop the attacks once they start and anything that’s worked for them to control it? I’m so young and I live in fear of dying every moment of the day.

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You are not going to die unless your heart rate is really high for over a couple of hours. Really high as in 200+bpms. I also have a concealed accessory pathway. It's a form of svt. When I had attacks I would go to my bed. Ly on my back and and slowly breath in and out. If you freak out and don't stay calm it will only get worse. You should buy a pulse monitor. This helps me so I can see how fast my heart is going and try to make it lower. When it gets lower you become more calm. I've spent almost a year now obsessing about my condition. About a week ago I had an ablation. And already notice a difference. You just got to keep on your doctor and keep asking for that heart monitor you will catch it eventually. They are tricky little boogers.

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Thank you for your reply. I hope the ablation cures you and you won’t have to deal with it anymore. I still don’t know exactly if it’s SVT, but the ER nurse said she thinks it’s some kind of arrhythmia or tachycardia. I got some results back today from my Holter and it said “positive for a possible heart irregularity” I don’t see the cardiologist for another couple of days and I’m absolutely terrified every minute of the day. The shower today made my BMP go to 144 and I was terrified now I’m scared to even take a shower. I’m also scared to go to sleep every night for fear of dying in my sleep. I am being absolutely tortured by this and it’s making me go insane. I just want it to stop. Even if they give me medicine for it, those can cause side effects which scare me too. Since these recent and increasing episodes I’m scared to even go to work and have called out too much and scared I’ll lose my job. I have no joy in anything. I just want everything to calm down so I can live my life again.

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*BPM

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Hi Just to put your mind at rest. I had the same thing happen when I was 29 and I am 47 now. It turned out to be SVT with me and have been on beta blockers since. Talk to your dr. They told me mine was anxiety for years until they caught it on an implantable loop recorder.

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I try to breathe deeply and regularly and to drink sips of ice cold water until the heart rate diminishes. Ask your doctors for a longer Holter monitor with a better chance of detecting one. I had one for 4 days and it only picked up one incident.

To encourage you, I have had this for a long, long time and I've made it to 78, so don't worry it only makes the problem worse.

Beta blockers help too.

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It is reassuring that you have lived to your age with it. It’s just so so hard not to worry when my body reacts this way. Thank you for your reply I hope you are doing well

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Hello Blackbird,

Well I don't have your particular problem, but I have had worrying ectopic heartbeats for some fifty years. Like you, I had all the tests, where nothing was revealed that was the least worrying to doctors and consultants. The ectopics go on, but I don't let them worry me overmuch - it's still impossible to totally ignore them. Well, I had a quick look at SVT online, and the little quote below may be helpful to you. I hope so. And anxiety, I have to say, can still rear its frightening head through tranquilizers - I haven't had them or many years now, but it used to be like that. Think about that - think about that and try to allow your mind to go to the place the quote below opens up for you.

“Is Supraventricular Tachycardia Dangerous? In the vast majority of cases SVT is a benign condition. This means that it will not cause sudden death, damage the heart or cause a heart attack. And it definitely will not shorten life expectancy”.

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Hello phokio

Is svt dangerous? Yes and no. It’s not going to cause sudden death no as you’ve stated. With me, svt causes my heart to suddenly beat 250+ beats a minute for no reason. I’ve had to be taken to hospital with blue lights twice this year and given adenosine. My svt causes immense chest, neck and arm pains & shortness of breath and dizziness. My cardiologist says “no it’s not a sudden death situation, but your heart can not beat for that length of time (3-4 hours) too often without eventually causing damage. I’m booked in for an ablation soon.

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Hello LMore,

Thank you for your reply. // I know little or nothing about SVT, as I said, but I saw Blackbird was probably worrying herself too much, and I responded to that by posting a quote I found on the web. I looked around for it to try to help her. That was all. But I do know the worry of a heart behaving abnormally can cause – as I mentioned, I’ve had ectopic heartbeats for some fifty years now – I’m seventy-eight. If you look back through my posts (if they’re lookupable) you’ll see that I’ve sent several regarding ectopics, always with a view to alleviating the distress of someone who, in reality, is in fear of their life. I am never negative in my responses – I cut all negativity out and concentrate on reassurance. I know that many everyday things can be unnecesarily frightening – there’s a line in a little poem by Auden, “The spot on your skin in a shocking disease” – as of course it may be – but in the overwhelming number of instances such a spot is entirely harmless. In the way that very scary ectopics are almost always entirely harmless. I am very careful of what I say to people on this platform.

Best Wishes for a 100% successful ablation Lmor :)

pnokio

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I squat down on my toes and hold my breath. Try it. It stops mine straight away. I think it is a vagal manoeuvre? It was suggested to me years ago and totally works for me when I get the odd bout. Ice water doesn't work for me.

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I’ve tried so many different manoeuvres but nothing works.....the ambulance crew tried, the hospital tried and then had to resort to adenosine. That was a horrible experience but it worked a treat 😁

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Yes i too use vagal maneuvers, holding my breath while at the same time putting pressure on back of throat. Also sipping very cold water or placing frozen pkt from freezer on right side of neck. Usually works but not always. Have had them for around 25 years and now 68.

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A KARDIA hand held ECG recording device will capture this for you.

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Thank you for everyone’s replies, it makes me feel a lot less alone in this

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It must be so hard that your life is so full of worry right now and let's hope that will soon change for the better. Our hearts are actually quite tough, although they become less so as we age. Stress and anxiety encourage them to misbehave and it is important to get a proper diagnosis so that everyone has an understanding of the severity of the condition. It's all too easy to have fears that are inappropriate - or dismiss significant things as trivial. Proper treatment can alleviate or banish symptoms and return one to living a normal life.

When I've had SVT it could sometimes be controlled by breathing in, breathing in again, and a third time - so that lungs were really full - holding the breath for a moment and then breathing out slowly.

I feel one needs to get a grip on worries about dying. An aeroplane can drop on anyone and there are a few people who have got up this morning, and they are happy as can be, and they will be dead before the end of the day. Or have their lives changed forever. But mostly we can be complacent as that’s really unlikely to happen, although personally I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion, entirely wrongly so far, that my days ahead are in single numbers. Yes, I’ve had a heart condition for almost 30 years, but I very much doubt that it will finish me off. Something far more instantly deadly could step in first!

So, eat, drink and be merry …. If you don’t have much time left, make sure you enjoy - and make the most of - what you do have.

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Hi Blackbird, I have had svt for about 16 years now and I am 69. Have controlled it with meds for years having only about 4 a year but suddenly it’s come back. I have now decided to have an ablation . I try to stop mine by drinking ice cold water about 4 glasses one after the other quickly and this works quite a lot of the time. Also try always to lie flat whilst you have one and hold you breath for as long as you can . This also helps. I agree it is frightening but I find that getting stressed makes it worse. Try to carry on as normal and think to yourself that it isn’t going to be dangerous to you. If the worse comes to the worse and it won’t stop ring 999. They are always there to help you.

Hope this helps, keep strong and think positive

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You’re the first person that I have found in over a year that sounds like me!!! I’ve wore countless monitors, I’ve seen 4 different doctors.. all telling me it’s my anxiety. I was waking up everyday with a fast heart rate as soon as my feet hit the floor. It’s gotten to the 180s a couple of times.. probably more but most of the time I’m too scared to check! I try to calm down, I take my BP meds, splash my face with water and try to find something on TV to take my mind off of it. It’s lasts a couple of minutes and sometimes longer. Today I had 2 episodes.. when I first woke up, I took my meds and got it to calm down and while I was sitting trying to distract myself I got worked up again. Following an episode I will shake and trimble.... and now I will spend the rest of the day on the couch. It’s ruining my life. My family used to travel all the time and now I can’t. I’m too scared something will happen to me. I didn’t even like to leave my house at all anymore because I’m afraid I will drop dead somewhere. It’s a horrible, horrible feeling.

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Also, I’m 25

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I just saw this now I’m sorry! It’s a horrible terrifying thing to live with every day especially at a young age like us, when we are supposed to be in out prime health, have no worries, enjoy life with friends etc. but I can’t. I’m scared to do pretty much anything!! I’m scared to go to sleep at night and I’m scared to shower and I’m scared to exercise and the list goes on. There was a work party the other day and I only had 1 teeeeeny beer but the whole time I was scared it would affect my heart. I can’t enjoy anything !! I’m so so sorry you’re dealing with this but at least you are not alone. Do you get chest pain? I get pretty bad chest pain every day even when I’m not having an episode and my heart is beating calmly. It’s exhausting. I hope we will figure out what to do

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