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Old 05 August 2014, 07:16 PM
TripleAAA TripleAAA is offline
 
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Default I have heart fluttering/palpitations

Hi Everyone!

For the last week and a half I have had strange heart flutters/palpitations. I really don't know exactly when it started, so I can't say if there were any specific triggers. It's not constant, but every once in a while it feels like my heart skips a beat, or beats erratically for just a brief moment, and then it stops. I also get a feeling of, I guess, breathlessness. There is not really pattern to it, as it could happen again in a minute, or it could take a few hours. It seems to happen when I am cooking or cleaning, but I don't notice it happening more when I walk my daily mile.

I thought maybe it was anxiety (I have a panic disorder, along with depression and mild OCD), since anxiety always loves to manifest in new and exciting ways, but it was still happening after a 10mg Valium. My other thought was withdrawal from the Valium, which my doctor is constantly reminding about it, but I assume it would have gotten better with the Valium in that case.

My next thought was an iron deficiency, since I had the same breathless feeling the last time I was anemic.

And finally, because I always go to a dark place with things like this thanks to my panic disorder, atrial fibrillation. My father suffers from afib, as does his cousin, and his aunt (the same cousins mother) also had it as well. My father says when he has afib attacks though, the heart palpitations are constant and come with a variety of other symptoms, such as fatigue and weakness, and can last as long as 48 hours. But could this be the start of it? I'm only 31, but I don't know if afib has an age discrimination.

There isn't really anything new, except moving a month ago, and getting my gall bladder removed a month and a half ago. No new meds or food or stress. I haven't been sick. I have an appointment on Friday with my doctor, but I would love to hear some suggestions (mostly guarantees that it's not afib). Thank you so much!
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Old 05 August 2014, 10:58 PM
Ellestar Ellestar is offline
 
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Do you feel weak in your limbs when this happens? If so, ignore anything that comes after this and talk to a doctor ASAP.

I'm not a doctor, but I had very similar symptoms about four years ago.

I was worried enough that I actually went on a heart monitor for 24 hours. They did find that there were times I could qualify for a first degree AV block (in the "lub-dub" of the heartbeat, my "dub" was a little later than it could have been), but it wasn't anything they were really concerned about.

At the time, I was incredibly worried about it and actually drove myself into panic attacks. Which doesn't help you feel more confident about your heart because everything just feels so out of control! Even when I felt okay, I could feel breathless for long periods of time. I think now that it was low-grade panic that I could have for hours.

It's now 4 years later. I'm beginning to think that those feelings of my heart skipping weren't actually my heart. I'm thinking it is either the twitching of a deep muscle in my chest or else something to do with my esophagus. For me, I realized it feels incredibly similar to the feeling I have when my eyelid twitches. Its the worst when I feel it as I try to fall asleep.

Now that I've had the time to calm down about it some, I realize that the twitches don't affect my heart rate at all.

You could ask your doctor to check you out on an EKG if you're really worried. It might help put your mind at ease.
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Old 05 August 2014, 11:43 PM
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Dropbear Dropbear is offline
 
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I can't tell you it isn't afib. And, as you note it may not be afib.

If it is however I can tell you that not all afib is the same and not all afib is needing to be panicked about.

My afib story starts when I was about 25 and, post a serious virus, I started to get fluttery feelings in my chest - sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I would give a throat clear/light cough and it would go away. They varied in timing - sometimes they'd go away for months then come back a couple of times a day. At different times I decided it wasn't my heart and was just my esophagus spasming. Shortly after I turned 49 and after a long stressful day, when I was already suffering a virus and had been driving for 6 hours and taken cold and flu pills and several cups of coffee I got the fluttery feeling and it wouldn't go away. I ended up in hospital where it eventually resolved by itself (they considered giving me a defrib but decided not to).

I was referred to a cardiologist who checked me over and said that afibs such as I experienced are pretty common - about 5% of the population will have them and they are more nuisance than anything else. He said that unless they started lasting more than a couple of seconds they could very safely be ignored.

Following that I was pretty much hyper-vigilant about my heart and learned a lot about the different types of beats - besides afibs there are also other tricky beats that I can spot that most other people don't - yay for hypervigilance.

It took close on 18 months for me to get comfortable with them again after the hospitalisation - what helped was seeing my doctor when I was concerned and describing the symptoms as clearly and accurately as possible and listening and trusting her response.

It is unnerving and anxiety producing at times still but it is quite manageable - if that is what it is.

Good luck

Dropbear

Like Ellestar I went on a heart monitor for 24 hours and also got some good information - which confirmed yes I was feeling an occasional irregularity but it was a very commonly experienced one and I was just someone who noticed it particularly.
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Old 06 August 2014, 12:53 AM
TripleAAA TripleAAA is offline
 
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Thank you both, for calming me down a little about the afib. My mom died of cervical cancer in December, and maybe I'm a little more anxious about afib because the thought of losing my father too is devastating. I think I take it a little to seriously.

I don't have any weakness in my limbs.

I didn't think about esophagus spasms. I do have acid reflux, but I am on Nexium for it. I've never felt it before, though. I'll have to pay attention next time it happens.

I really don't feel like it could be the iron thing. Last time I was so tired and run down, I just don't feel it this time though.

I did have a fight with my husband after he came home from work, and I did notice it happened more while I was stressed from that. Maybe I'm more stressed than I think?
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Old 06 August 2014, 02:15 AM
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I certainly found it cropped up when I was down and when I was physically unwell. And truly - given your recent loss of your mother, your recent surgery and the other stuff it wouldn't be surprising to have stress related response. Anxiety is a bugger - as I can well and truly relate to.

Do discuss it with your doctor and be exactly clear about your symptoms and your fears. (I tend to say directly my doctor that: Yes I have looked at the internet and yes I know it is not wise and these: X,Y, Z are the specific things I am worried about and could we discuss those please. She is a good doctor and only slightly rolls her eyes at me in a patient manner, mostly because I then work really hard at trusting what she says)

Dropbear
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Old 06 August 2014, 05:40 AM
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Esprise Me Esprise Me is offline
 
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For whatever little it's worth, I get a fluttery feeling in my chest every now and then that feels like my heart is skipping a beat. It never lasts more than a few seconds, and I've never had any other related symptoms. I'm 30 and in good health with no family history of heart disease, and my doctor seems unconcerned. So it's definitely worth having a chat with your own doctor, but it could easily be nothing, and if it is just a weird little nothing, you're not alone.
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Old 06 August 2014, 11:43 AM
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I've had this occasionally for a long time, at least 25 years. Drinking too much caffeine can cause it on a more regular basis. It feels like for a few seconds (probably fractions of a second in actuality) my heart decides to just quiver rather than beat normally. It definitely is my heart, because I can feel the difference as the pulse/shiver travels through my pulse points in my neck and wrists. A similar thing will also happen occasionally where my heart will have one extra-strong beat, and I can feel that travel through.

I had open heart surgery when I was four, to correct a murmur, so ordinarily I would worry it was something related to that, but my mother who never has had any heart issues otherwise also gets it. Her blasť attitude toward it probably is what caused me never to worry. For me, it just is one of those weird little things, like hiccups.
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Old 06 August 2014, 12:05 PM
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I had the same experience as Esprise Me when I was younger. It hasn't happened in a while. I used to get it when I was sick with a cold or flu, too.
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Old 06 August 2014, 12:50 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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I was occasionally getting a fluttery, twitchy feeling in the center of my chest. Thinking it was my heart, I checked it out with my doctor, who said it was spasm of the esophagus, not my heart at all. I am not saying that is your situation, but there are several things in the center of your chest that can flutter. Bring it up with your doctor, as your flutters are not my flutters, but also don't panic.
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Old 06 August 2014, 01:42 PM
TripleAAA TripleAAA is offline
 
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Quote:
Do discuss it with your doctor and be exactly clear about your symptoms and your fears.
My doctor is well aware of my hypochondriac tendencies, and she is very graceful when dealing with them too. Bedside manner is so important isn't it?

Quote:
A similar thing will also happen occasionally where my heart will have one extra-strong beat
Yes! That exactly what it feels like. It almost feels like my heart skipped a beat for a millisecond and needs to give an extra hard beat to make up for it.

It happens so quickly that I can't get to pulse points quick enough. I would love to be able to do it so I can know if it really is my heart.

I do think it gets worse at night. I feel it occasionally throughout the day, but when I start to cook dinner, it gets worse. After dinner, it calms down but its still more frequent than it is during the day. Maybe I'm allergic to cooking dinner . It's more annoying than anything, especially when I'm trying to sleep!

Thanks for the advice everyone, and it helps that I haven't gotten any "go to the ER NOW!"s.

ETA- If it is stress, why didn't the Valium I took help? It usually does.
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Old 06 August 2014, 01:48 PM
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I don't have to feel the pulse points from the outside, I feel the blood rushing through (from the inside). Yeah, it goes way too fast to grab for.
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Old 06 August 2014, 06:46 PM
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Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
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If you have an understanding doctor, and you're worried, talk to her. Tell her your concerns. You should never, ever ignore heart symptoms, even when you know you have hypochondriacal tendencies.

Seaboe
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Old 06 August 2014, 09:31 PM
TripleAAA TripleAAA is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mags View Post
I don't have to feel the pulse points from the outside, I feel the blood rushing through (from the inside). Yeah, it goes way too fast to grab for.
I think I know what you mean, but I'm not sure I'm experiencing that. I'll keep it in mind though, for the next time it happens.


Quote:
If you have an understanding doctor, and you're worried, talk to her. Tell her your concerns. You should never, ever ignore heart symptoms, even when you know you have hypochondriacal tendencies.
I have an appointment on Friday, so that will definitely be the main topic of discussion. I did want to get some insight though, because I'm sure there are eight thousand things that could cause heart flutters/palpitations, to help her get to the bottom of things.

As for the esophageal spams, I'm just not sure. Would they be down the middle of the chest, or would they be on the inside top of the left breast (for lack of a better description), because that's where I'm feeling them. Top left.

I do appreciate everyone's experiences and advice!
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Old 06 August 2014, 09:45 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TripleAAA View Post
As for the esophageal spams, I'm just not sure. Would they be down the middle of the chest, or would they be on the inside top of the left breast (for lack of a better description), because that's where I'm feeling them. Top left.
Would that be Spam, spam, eggs, spam, bacon, and spam?

But seriously, they would be right in the middle, behind the sternum - but that is also where the heart is. It only leans toward the left somewhat, but is really centered.
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Old 06 August 2014, 10:53 PM
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erwins erwins is offline
 
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For another data point about them not necessarily meaning anything bad, my SO developed palpitations/tachycardia during pregnancy. It's common for them to occur then, so the cause wasn't a mystery, but I just wanted to pass on that the doctors we were seeing--and we were going to a specialist perinatology clinic, not just an OB--were not at all concerned about it. Basically, we were told that as long as it wasn't causing any problems, it was nothing to worry about.

That said, I'm glad you're getting it checked out. Heart symptoms are nothing to mess around with.
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Old 07 August 2014, 12:48 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TripleAAA View Post


Yes! That exactly what it feels like. It almost feels like my heart skipped a beat for a millisecond and needs to give an extra hard beat to make up for it.
I get those sometimes, and for me it's a known (but non-dangerous) occasional premature ventricular contraction.

"A PVC may be perceived as a "skipped beat" or felt as palpitations in the chest. In a normal heartbeat, the ventricles contract after the atria have helped to fill them by contracting; in this way the ventricles can pump a maximized amount of blood both to the lungs and to the rest of the body. In a PVC, the ventricles contract first and before the atria have optimally filled the ventricles with blood, which means that circulation is inefficient. However, single beat PVC arrhythmias do not usually pose a danger and can be asymptomatic in healthy individuals"

Nick
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Old 07 August 2014, 02:37 PM
TripleAAA TripleAAA is offline
 
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Nick Theodorakis, yes yes yes! Thank you for that link. That article describes what I am feeling perfectly:

Quote:
PVCs are usually diagnosed after the patient has described “skipped beats”, pauses or palpitations. Typically the palpitations felt by PVC patients are very irregular and less sustained than patients with other types of arrhythmia. They are likely to have “flip flopping” sensations where it feels like the heart is flipping over or pounding due to there being a pause after the premature contraction and then a powerful contraction after the pause.
It's funny that the article says that tricyclic antidepressants may cause this. I take amitriptyline for sleep, and in the back of my head I was wondering about that. But I've been taking it for 4ish months, and a few years ago I took it for about 8 months with no problems. Although, I have had medications pop up with weird side effects after a taking it for a while. I can't stop taking it or I won't sleep. I would think if it was the amitriptyline, the palpitations would be getting worse? The palpitations have actually been a little better yesterday and today (so far). Either way, I'll bring that article up to my doctor.


Quote:
Would that be Spam, spam, eggs, spam, bacon, and spam?
Ha! I do that all the time. The funny thing is, I've never even had spam. If I didn't have a pork intolerance, I would think my subconscious was trying to tell me something.

Are the esophageal spasms painful? I'll the articles I've read seem to think it's really painful.


It's probably nothing big, I think I want to get to the bottom of it because it's annoying and I'd like to make the palpitations stop. It so frustrating, especially at night, when I'm on the cusp of sleep and one wakes me up.

Last edited by TripleAAA; 07 August 2014 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 07 August 2014, 03:33 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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1. Spam is better than its reputation would have it. Of course, if you can't eat pork, it would be a poor choice. I have not had any in quite some time, but on a camping trip, it is very convenient and tasty, and the extra calories get burned off with hiking and wood-gathering, etc.

2. I would not call the spasms painful - but they are highly disturbing because they happen right near the heart, so I have to remind myself what they are. I had not had any for quite some time, and then I had one about a week before you started this thread.
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Old 07 August 2014, 04:37 PM
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Another data point - I get sensations exactly like what you've described there - brief, fluttery feeling right in the chest, just a couple of seconds, with mild shortness of breath, at random times.

I actually ended up wearing a heart monitor for several days and kept a journal of when those feeling occurred. In the end, the heart monitor showed nothing at all out of the ordinary. Like someone else mentioned, it was esophageal spasms.

Definitely worth getting checked out, but I wouldn't panic.
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Old 07 August 2014, 07:53 PM
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smittykins smittykins is offline
 
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Not to make light of your issues, Triple AAA, but the main page truncates your thread title to "I have heart...", and I keep hearing "You gotta have heart..." in my mind.
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