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Old 12-12-2004, 11:50 PM   #1
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Kitten1980 HB User
Re: stupid question

The only stupid question is one that isn't asked

I'm going to start by asking you a question, before I get into the explanation of my condition and symptoms . Do you have symptoms which concern you, and if so what are they? It is possible for heart disorders to go undetected because symptoms are not present, or are mistaken for other disorders, but you also said that you had an echo. That would catch a lot of potential problems. In the absence of any other symptoms or reason to believe that you might have a problem, that's probably all that you need. In answer to your question you would definately know if you had the symptoms I am going to describe and I think the same is true of most conditions. If the symptoms were there, you'd know that something wasn't 'right' and hopefully get it checked out .

I have an atrial septal defect (ASD) which means there is a tiny hole between the two upper chambers of my heart (the atrium - your heart has four chambers; two atrials & two ventricles). In my case it is a congenital defect - which means the hole was present when I was born. This causes a heart murmur (a sound that the heart makes from the blood going back and forth through the hole, that can be heard with a stethescope). It also causes oxygenated and unoxygenated blood to get mixed which, depending on the size and severity of the hole can either cause no problems or very serious problems.

When I was younger it caused significant problems. I would become short of breath and sometimes faint when exerting myself, and my heart had to work harder to get enough oxygenated blood to my body. This made me tire easily and have irregular heart rythms. These irregular rythms caused atrial and ventricular tachycardia, two episodes of ventricular fibrillation that required emergency services and in one instance my heart actually stopped.

Fortunately as I grew the hole grew smaller as tissue naturally began to close over it, though it did not close all the way (I am 24 now). The main symptoms that I have now are palpitations or "skipped beats." The technical names are Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs) and Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs). What happens is after a normal heartbeat, the heart tries to beat again too soon and the heart's electrical system hasn't had a chance to reset itself properly. This causes a slightly longer pause before the next full beat, which tends to feel "harder" because there is then more blood to be pumped through the heart. It feels like the heart missed a beat, but it actually had an extra one .

Sometimes several of these premature beats will come in a row with no normal beats in between. This usually last from three to five seconds and my heart-rate is slightly elevated after an episode of that nature. Episodes lasting longer than a few seconds usually cause dizziness or even fainting (though that hasn't happened in a while thankfully).

The number of premature beats I get in any given day varies. Sometimes I won't notice any all day, and other days I will get two or three a minute for hours at a time. I'm in reasonably good physical condition but if I do too much streneous exercise then I tend to tire and/or get out of breath before similarly fit peers. Ironically it is after exercise that I tend to get more premature beats, not during.

My heart-rate also tends to be quite low when I wake in the morning if I wake on my own without being awakened by an alarm clock or telephone ringing. Also when exercising I can stay within my "target heart rate zone" but when I stop, even if I do a thorough cool-down, my heart-rate drops dramatically (to slightly lower than my normal resting rate), and then gets back into my normal resting heartrate range after a few minutes. I think it is this sudden change that causes the increased symptoms after exercise.

After a recent round of routine tests to check on the condition of my heart, since I do have the ASD, I was informed of options for treatment that didn't exist or were in the early and risky stages when I was a young child. If the ASD begins to cause significant problems (it can sometimes lead to cardiomyopathy - enlargement of the heart due to the overworked muscle, or irregular rhythms which could be dangerous - PVCs and PACs generally are not a danger in and of themselves), a surgical proceedure can be performed to patch the hole with a peice of specially designed mesh that facilitates tissue growth and causes the hole to close completely.

Currently the only treatment I am on is a daily multivitamin, the herb hawthorn berry, and a potassium supplement (under the advice of my doctor). I also have to have the doctor call in a prescription for antibiotics any time I am going to have dental work or anything of that nature which could lead to bacteria entering the bloodstream, and of course I have to be careful to avoid being exposed to streptococus (sp?) bacteria (strep throat) and get to the doctor for antibiotics if I am. This is because I am at an increased risk for pericarditis - an infection or inflamation of the lining of the heart muscle.

Anyway sorry to write a novel. I hope this helps to answer your questions and if you want to know anything more about my condition feel free to ask .
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Old 12-13-2004, 01:59 AM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Texas
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Kitten1980 HB User
Re: stupid question

"cannot take in they are safe"
"fear that they are missing something"
"I do have panic attacks"
"just worry I will drop down dead"

Honey, look at what you wrote. Do you think it's possible that anxiety is playing a role in this? Sometimes it helps to break down your thoughts into a simple list and see if there is a pattern there.

Best of luck and keep us posted
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"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." ~ Hebrews 11:1 ~

 
Old 12-13-2004, 10:13 AM   #3
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jenn.e HB User
Re: stupid question

Q: Would i know if i had these sorts of problems i have had an echo!

Yes you would know. An echo and ecg's check for all of that.

If you go through my posts you will see that last year I was in the same position you are. I was worried sick about pvc's and scared that something else was wrong with me. I went through therapy after a few false alarm trips to the ER and got started on medication for panic/anxiety. I am soo glad I did that. I still get pvc's and I am also pregnant so they are getting worse but I no longer worry. I know otherwise that I have a healthy heart (from and echo and tests) and I am too young to die of a heart attack. The great thing about it is that the less I think of them the less I get them. It used to be that all I had to do was think of them and within mins. I would get a big bad one. Next time you visit your Doc you should bring a list of all your worries and questions and remember the answers when you start feeling panic.
Good luck
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Old 12-13-2004, 05:35 PM   #4
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Texas
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Kitten1980 HB User
Re: stupid question

Karlie, hon, it's okay to be aware of your heart and actually a good thing since doctors are just now starting to take women seriously on heart issues. But it sounds like you've had a thorough work up and diagnosed and are being treated properly with medication. It's even okay to be a little "paranoid" as you called it, just try not to let that get so much that it takes over your life. As for the doubt just try to sit and think about good things, like your children and the things that you can do with them and make the most of life, you know what I mean? I know it's easier said than done. Maybe you would benefit from having someone to talk to "in real life" about your doubts and fears - a spouse, a trusted friend, a doctor, a psychiatrist, a minister... whoever you are comfortable with. You might also try keeping a journal; sometimes putting the doubts and worries into writing makes them look a whole lot smaller than they were in your thoughts and it is recognized by psychologists that writing down your worries gives you a measure of "power" over them. On a closing note, it's really like comparing apples and oranges to say who's heart condition is scarier or worse, we're all here to support each other because we all have a lot of the same types of doubts and worries and fears and this is one place we can discuss them and know that it's okay to share; we aren't going to judge or say someone doesn't have a big enough problem because if it's a problem for you then only you know those inner doubts and fears and how big they are if that makes any sense. {{{{hugs}}}}
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"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." ~ Hebrews 11:1 ~

 
Old 07-28-2008, 07:28 AM   #5
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Prairie Village, KS USA
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annab08 HB User
Re: stupid question

I have just been diagnosed with a significant ASD but do not yet know if I will have to undergo surgery or just the catheter-placed patch. The cardiologist did say that my hole is bigger than most small holes that don't close on their own. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

I had the TEE done last Friday, and my throat is killing me so I'm going in to the doctor's office today to make sure that they didn't damage my espophagus.

I have many of the same symptoms as Kitten1980, and I used to workout every day. I can't believe that all this time, I've been out of breath because of my heart having a hole in it. I am still in a bit of shock.

I used to get strep throat all the time as a kid, do you think that might have made the hole bigger? I also have periodontitis, or gum disease. I am 22 years old.

I am relieved to find other people who are going through the same thing I am right now.

 
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