Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ectopic Heart Beat, Benign Palpitations, Cardio-Hiccups

This is a completely off-topic post, written  in hopes it may be of interest and help to people who have the same weird heartbeat thing which I have.  Starting in my 20's I very occasionally had a moment where I felt like my heart stopped and then went thud, followed by a nano-second of breathlessness. But before I could focus on my imminent death, everything went back to normal.  An EKG in a doctor's office assured me I was fine, nothing to worry about.  Hah!  Nothing to worry about, until the next time this happens!

In my mid-50's, I noticed it more, and once again had a physician check it out, same result.  Nothing to worry about.  Then a few months ago, around my 58th birthday, this started happening several times an hour.  Usually in threes, a few minutes apart.  I would be very conscious of my heart beating, a weird sensation.  Each thud would be followed by a slight flutter in my chest and stomach.  This began to drive my crazy, trying to figure out a pattern, what might be causing this uptick (pardon the pun!).  And lots of anxiety, since it is an unpleasant sensation.  The doctor reassured me it's harmless, and called an ectopic heart beat, as "in the wrong place".  No known cause, no cure.

Eventually the frequency made me so nervous that I asked for a referral to a cardiologist.  I just couldn't believe that something so scary-feeling could really be harmless.  He did another EKG and an echo-cardiogram, neither of which is invasive or unpleasant.  He pronounced me the healthiest lady he had seen all day, and described these as "benign palpitations".  Benign is good, but it sounds very alarming, really. There is no known cause, this is just one of those things that happens;  it's weird, but it's harmless.

I am slowly training myself to be less reactive to my benign palpitations; which at least will decrease my reactivity.  The most useful thing I've come up with so far is to rename them heart hiccups, since that in effect is what they are.  Somehow, hiccup sounds more friendly and normal than benign palpitations.
I do hope they go away just like them came; some days I have very few.  Other days I have a lot.  Just sharing.  By now I've discovered a few other people who have these too, and we're all alive and well.

Postscript: three years later.  I am incredibly grateful to the first commenter, who - years ago - wrote that magnesium supplements helped him/her.  I tried them and could feel the difference immediately.  I have continued to take them daily and it has taken the edge off my palpitations. When they occur they usually don't just happen once, but a bunch of time over a day or two, and I realize how long it's been since the last episode.  Eventually they stop, but I don't notice that they stopped until they happen again.

I reported this to my doctor and she said, basically "Cool."  Whatever works.  As in, no evidence it works but it can't heart.  I also told my acupuncturist and she confirmed that metals are good for heart function.

10 comments:

Traciatim said...

Interesting, I wonder if this is what's happening to me. The description is spot on to what I feel and I've seen my doctor about it but they claimed it's just stress or panic attacks. I eventually just started ignoring them as much as I can. It;s been a few years since I brought it up, but it still happens pretty frequently. Do you have any clues as to how I can get my doctor to stop telling me it's all in my head?

bpt said...

I think there is a relationship between panic/stress and these benign palpitations. They feel very startling and scary, probably similar to an anxiety/panic attack, which people describe as "my heart stopped". But I think your physician has it backwards. I think the ectopic heart beat causes anxiety. It is not produced by anxiety.

Anonymous said...

so far 300mg of Magnesium with chleated zinc has really made a difference. I still get a skip once in awhile, but hey have pretty much disappeared. The pills are cheap and over the counter.

bpt said...

Thanks for the tip, Anonymous. I couldn't find magnesium with chelated zinc, so just went with magnesium supplements. I do notice that while I still have a lot of BP's, they are softer. Just kind a weird sensation that passes before I pay attention, so my response is just a blip, too. cannot prove it's the magnesium, of course.

bpt said...

Checking in a year later, having taken a magnesium supplement daily. I have many fewer benign palpitations, and when I have them, they are less pronounced/jerky. I cannot prove it's the magnesium, but since it's not harmful to take it, why not.

Anonymous said...

hi i will also try this i have had these eptopic beats for 10 days now everysingle day its scary and im fed up now had an ecg which while i was in drs they stopped as soon as i got home they started dr said i can have a 24 tape put on but they havent got bk to me yet so i dont know if they r harmless or not will get bk to u

Anonymous said...

I am at my wits end with this. Try to be calm about it, but it's easier said than done. I think you're right the 'palpatation' causes anxiety!

Anonymous said...

I have had benign palpitations for years...My doctor says they are not harmful but it can be very scary...I have had stress tests....electocardiograms...radio active dye injected..holter monitor and an overnight stay in the hospital...blood tests etc. and everything comes back normal...but even when you are re-assured that you are ok...it is still worrisome when it happens...I think the more you worry about it the more it happens.. just live each day to the fullest and try to be a good person....

Anonymous said...

I have heart hiccups too. My father had them and my daughter has them and now my grandsons. They are annoying but they do say they will not kill you. I also have SVT.(Supraventricular tachycaridia) Where my heart beats fast. I had a heart monitor on when I was younger and they didnt record anything they thought was abnormal. So it was more or less no big deal to them. After having surgery a few yrs later.. they found it when I was on the surgery table. So now years later I have had a heart monitor on again and they found the hiccups.. about 13 in a 24hr period. I drink NO caffeine, no chocolate or anything that can make my heart race.. and I really dont "feel" them any more. It makes a huge difference. The Anxiety is from having them and doc's and (ppl) telling you its in your head or its nothing. My anxiety is very low now with out the caffeine. I hope it helps someone.. good luck.

Anonymous said...

I have heart hiccups too. My father had them and my daughter has them and now my grandsons. They are annoying but they do say they will not kill you. I also have SVT.(Supraventricular tachycaridia) Where my heart beats fast. I had a heart monitor on when I was younger and they didnt record anything they thought was abnormal. So it was more or less no big deal to them. After having surgery a few yrs later.. they found it when I was on the surgery table. So now years later I have had a heart monitor on again and they found the hiccups.. about 13 in a 24hr period. I drink NO caffeine, no chocolate or anything that can make my heart race.. and I really dont "feel" them any more. It makes a huge difference. The Anxiety is from having them and doc's and (ppl) telling you its in your head or its nothing. My anxiety is very low now with out the caffeine. I hope it helps someone.. good luck.