What am I experiencing?: Hello All, I... - Arrhythmia Alliance

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What am I experiencing?

ronnie211097 profile image

Hello All,

I am new to the forum and rather desperate to get some answers as the symptom I am experiencing is becoming bothersome to the point my anxiety is yet again through the roof and I am fearing my heart stopping on a daily basis. I have been experiencing a rather nasty flare up of, what I believe, are ectopic heartbeats. My pulse will be fine, and sometimes I will get this strange sensation in my chest/throat and my heart will skip a beat and return with a rather powerful 'thud'. My heart then resumes to normal beating. I have had this sensation for as long as I can remember but it rarely happened and I never paid any attention to it. Since the start of the year, I have noticed these have become more common and tend to happen for a couple of days up to a week, then go away for two or so weeks and come back again. In the past, when I was younger, they would also happen about once in a day and now I can feel them a few times a day - the ones I can feel, I could count about 15-20 instances of an ectopic heartbeat.

It is truthfully stressing me out because I am already being treated for anxiety under hypochondria with particular emphasis on cardiovascular health, so this is not exactly bringing much soothing or allowing me to progress in my therapy. I have been prescribed propranolol to treat my anxiety however I have stopped taking it, as I did not feel the need to alter my heartbeat so much and finally found a way to manage on my own.

Contextually, I went off birth control in November last year and November was also the time I was taken into A&E for a fast heart rate following a night of drinking and being poisoned (turns out I am most probably alcohol intolerant). I had an ECG done at the time, and despite the fast heart rate, everything was fine. My blood work was also fine, and finally they let me go home. Initially, I thought that these ectopics could have been caused by the fact I had gone off birth control (single hormone pill) and during PMS, my hormones were all over the place causing me these ectopic heartbeats. Initially, it could have worked as they only manifested themselves a few days before my period was due, but since the end of last month and certainly this month, they have been present everyday. I became so anxious, I have contacted my GP who said I have ectopic beats (over the phone) and that there is nothing that can be done about them. He told me to eliminate all tea and coffee - I only drink decaf, but this has not helped. I am booked in for a blood test tomorrow to check if I have any deficiency.

I am just so desperate to have an answer as everyone is easy to claim that it's anxiety based and to 'get over it' which in a way makes me feel like what I am experiencing is not real - however these ectopics can manifest themselves also in moments when I am not anxious and not waiting for them. What could they be? Should I be worried? They are giving me a lot of anxiety.

FYI: I am a female, aged 23, ex-smoker, do not drink alcohol or caffeine, eat healthy and I am moderately active, 60kg.

Thank you in advance and sorry for the long post!

15 Replies

Hi Ronnie, I can relate to how you feel as I am experiencing this myself at the moment and it causes so much anxiety. You are not alone. Many on this site experience these ectopic beats. You are a lot younger than me but I had them when I was younger too and a Cardiologist told me mine were cased by a one beat coming in too fast and then a gap and the feeling of a thud or a woomf. Sometimes I feel it like a flutter and I take a deep breath. I am going through a spell of them at the moment. I feel when my stomach bloats up it happens more and I am having digestive issues I believe from some of the meds I am on.

Your situation is likely different and as you say you came off birth pills in November so that's a big change that perhaps your body has not fully adjusted too yet, hormone wise. With regard to anxiety, this brings about a visious circle because the more you feel these ectopics, the more you worry. I know I do. There is a very good Cardiologist Dr Sanjay Gupta on YouTube that really explains all about ectopic beats. Read what is helpful, not what makes you more anxious.

Usually Cardiologists can do a 7 day monitor to check when this is happening if your GP refers you. I hope it settles down for you. Make sure you get plenty of rest and do nice things to de-stress while you are getting everything checked out. I am sure some other folk on here will also have some advice. Heather

ronnie211097 profile image
ronnie211097 in reply to Zemer

Hi Heather

I am so sorry you are also going through the nasty flare up of ectopics. I was saying to my partner yesterday that I wouldn’t wish these upon my worst enemy, they are so unnerving. Do you also get the strange sensation in your throat when they happen? I’ve heard that they can be caused by the vagus nerve being a little irritated hence people get them when they bend over or lay in a strange position which is sometimes the case for me.

Anxiety wise, have you sought help? I attend CBT however with this flare up of ectopics I feel like I’ve gone back a thousand steps. Also in for a blood test today! Wish me luck!


Zemer profile image
Zemer in reply to ronnie211097

Hope all goes well with the bloods Ronnie, I feel mine under my left rib and I feel also it has something to do with the vagus nerve.

Another thing I read which was interesting too is that if your stomach is bloated it can cause the diaphragm to push upwards which being close to the stomach and the heart being close to it that that can also bring about the sensation, the fact that we are noticing the event and feeling the discomfort.

I haven't sought help on the anxiety side. Trying to resolve the digestive issues and hoping it will settle down in that way. Also waiting on appointment from hospital for AFib clinic.

ronnie211097 profile image
ronnie211097 in reply to Zemer

Hello Heather!

Blood test went all well - the GP will call me if anything is out of alignment. Hopefully all will be well across my blood work so from there I can refer myself to a cardiologist to seek treatment/have the appropriate scans.

It's rather interesting to know that these ectopics affect everyone in all these different ways/they are felt differently. Mine can feel like a flutter and a pause or a rather nasty crushing sensation and a pause. I guess that could be a mixture of PVCs/PACs? I am hoping I will come across a good cardiologist as I keep hearing mixed answers wherever I seek.

You should definitely look into CBT - I am currently attending CBT therapy since January which I find does help quite a lot as my anxiety is hypochondria based and I fear having a serious heart disease - so you can imagine that whatever I am going through, is a nightmare!

I do not suffer from any digestive issues unless I eat really rich or spicy food which I tend to stay away from, anyway. I sometimes get bloated but I do not find that in any way, sets off my ectopics. I am still in the process of trying to figure out my triggers which are NOT tea/coffee (decaf). I am starting to suspect white bread/gluten because I do not get them in mornings but they do start to show themselves after I eat lunch at work? Indeed, the more we think about them, the more they will manifest themselves.

Wishing you the best of luck with your appointment. Keep me updated when you get it and how it goes!

Zemer profile image
Zemer in reply to ronnie211097

Will do Ronnie and wishing you the best of luck too!

ronnie211097 profile image
ronnie211097 in reply to Zemer

Thanking you, fellow heart buddy! :)

TracyAdmin profile image

Hello there and welcome to the Forum. Have you visited our Arrhythmia Alliance Patient Resources online? You will find lots of information booklet offering advice and tips on following a healthy diet and exercise. Please visit heartrhythmalliance.org/aa/... you may also be interested in our upcoming Patients Day 2021?

Hi Tracy,

Thank you very much. I will have a browse through the resources and attempt to keep myself at peace a little.

I would definitely be interested in the Patients' Day, too! Where do I find it?

TracyAdmin profile image

You are very welcome and we are always here if you need us. For details on upcoming Patients Day 2021 heartrhythmalliance.org/aa/... May I highlight it’s still not too late to join our ‘Virtual patient education platform 2020’ and ‘World Heart Rhythm Congress 2020’ which you can still ‘virtually’ attend presentations by world-renowned medical experts on all arrhythmias and related conditions. Follow the link to view the agendas heartrhythmcongress.org/pro...

Hi Tracy!

Again, thank you for the links. I appreciate your time. I will have an in-depth look at the links you sent when I am freed of being stuck in an office on a rather gorgeous day!

Wishing you a lovely rest of the week.

Dear Ronnie, I’ve just this minute read your post, and I want to see if I can help you by giving you my experience with ectopic heartbeats. So, it goes like this – I was thirty, so a bit older than you, and was passing Kings’ College Hospital by train, when the very first ectopics occurred. As you say, that ‘thud’ in the chest. I got off the train and checked into A&E. I was told the heartbeats were ectopics, and that the heart never misses a beat – that the ‘thud’ I felt was the heart compensating for a late beat by pumping harder. Since that first day, well, I have had plenty of ectopics, and have called into my doc’s several times, and accordingly have had all kinds of tests, 48hr tapes, ECGs, echocardiograms, the works – and now I’m going to agree with you, in that they are a worry, but I’m also going to agree with your doctors, when they say that ectopic heart beats are nothing to worry about – because here I am, my dear Ronnie, an old man of 80 years. As old as King Lear. You are a young woman, and so naturally you need to enjoy all that life has to offer. Ectopics will come and go, my dear, please don’t let them spoil things for you. Be happy. Enjoy your life.

Best Wishes,

Patrick xx

ronnie211097 profile image
ronnie211097 in reply to pnokio

Good Morning Patrick,

Firstly, thank you so much for such a wonderful response. It has, a little, brought tears to my eyes!

Being 80 years old and living with the occasional thud and thump and hit and miss must have been a journey to remind yourself that all is well and this is just a little thing that we have. I am so glad that all your tests have come out fine, it is always best to have a test and be reassured than forever wonder if anything is wrong.

For me, personally, because they like to come and go and sometimes they do intensify with their occurrence and the way they feel, they do cause me a lot of anxiety. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I panic, and almost always I fear death and having my life cut short, so unexpectedly. Initially, I felt so bothered by them, I could not look forward to the future, because there was no future to be had. I attend therapy for hypochondria with particular emphasis on cardiovascular health and hopefully my therapist will be ready when I drop the ectopic-bomb at him as I have never discussed this with anyone.

We have to accept that our hearts like to do a little hiccup every now and then. :) I thank you again for the wonderful reply. It brings me great comfort knowing that there are people out there who provide such comfort and warmth when the times really do seem dark.

Wishing you all the very best and a lovely weekend ahead.

Ronnie xxx

Very sorry to hear that you are experiencing these at such a young age...Unfortunately Doctors never join the dots and fix what they see is not important nor life threatening.For young women who experience these just before their monthlies it is associated with the rise in progesterone.This causes ectopics because your magnesium and calcium levels are thrown out of balance.

If you were taking birth control pills this just throws the balance off even more and it can take a few months whilst your body starts to reestablish its normal biorhythm again.

You could try taking a magnesium supplement, this is known to help.Particular ones that work, Glycinate, Taurate (best) , Threonate.

Woman require 350 mg per day.It is sadly lacking in modern processed food and alcohol, stress, illness deplete it very quickly.This is very safe to take, and often relieves these troubling issues within two to three days, but you need to perservere until your levels build up.

Heres the thing...only 1% of magnesium stays in the blood, 39% in tissue, and 60 % in bones...it restores normal electrical activity in the muscles(twitching) and heart....calcium overload is the cause for twitching,because calcium causes muscles to cramp contract...ever wondered why periods cause stomach cramps.....low magnesium due to losing blood serum of that 1% .Hope this helps.

Research drcarolyndeanlive.com Best wishes..

ronnie211097 profile image
ronnie211097 in reply to Jomico

Hi Jomico!

Thank you for your reply. I will admit that these ectopics have never been an issue and up until recently, I had no idea that they were heart related! I just thought it was a weird sensation and it came and went, often went months without feeling one. I have also went much of my life without realising that other people experience these too, and it was a 'me' thing. I will admit that the moment I went off birth control, my monthly became almost instantaneously regular, but noticed a flare up of ectopics up to a week prior to my monthly beginning. I got my monthly and they subsided immediately.

When they do flare up, to me it seems like a lot but the ones that I can FEEL, I can count about up to 20 a day mainly occurring in the late afternoon/evening. Which fundamentally, is barely anything considering that a lot of people get thousands of them a day. I will definitely look into taking these supplements. I do not drink, I eat healthy and I am a healthy weight (9st. for being 5''6). My blood work also came back normal from the GP. I think magnesium might be a good thing to look into and try taking it. Luckily, I do not suffer from major cramps but they are there right before my monthly and during the first two days.

Thank you so much for such an insightful answer. It definitely makes a somewhat sense to think that perhaps these ectopics are linked to my monthly... Hopefully, my heart won't stop in the process! Haha.

Wishing you all the best. :)

Jomico profile image
Jomico in reply to ronnie211097

Just to reassure you...the heart is able to tolerate most arrythmias...i have had ectopics for nearly 40 years...and found that magnesium is the only thing that settles things down....often i have not bothered to buy any when i run out and those pesky things gradually creep back.thankyou for taking time to write such a thoughtful answer...do not fret with this...just think of it as the engine knocking to let you know time to top up!

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