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Old 12-18-2004, 06:13 PM   #1
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Introduction

Hi all,

My name is Ryan, and I've had problems that started back September of 2004.

I'm an electronics engineer by trade and I was doing some heavy soldering all day long (the solder contains 60% Lead).

Later on that day, around 6:00 PM, I became extremely dizzy, severe palpatations and shortness of breath occured almost immediately following the dizziness. My hands clenched up, and my face went numb, I could not walk, and thought I was having a stroke. My father called 911 and five minutes later, an ambulance shows up and gives me oxygen. My 02 saturation was 82, but quickly came back up to 99 following the oxygen given.

In the ER, they diagnosed me with Lead poisoning, which was said to cause "bronchospasm". I was then released feeling normal.

Later on that night, the dizziness and shortness of breath returned, again, severe palpations and rapid heart rate.

Three days later I followed-up with my PCP, and while in his office, colapsed. 02 reading was 85 and he called an ambulance. This time at the ER, they took a chest X-ray and blood gases, all normal. They also did a toxic screening for the lead, it was NOT present in my system. I was again released after being given oxygen.

The next month was a living hell, I was not able to get out of bed, severe dizziness all of the time, 10 times worse at night.

Eventually, the dizziness started to subside, and again, I went to see my PCP, and was diagnosed with Asthma. I was prescribed Advair, it did nothing, so then I tried Albuterol, again, no effect on my condition.

The doctor eventually noticed that my pulse was 150 at idle, and prescribed Atenolol. The Atenolol actually worked for a month, and kicked in immediately to lower my average pulse to 73. For the next month, everything was nearly back to normal. The drug no longer works as of now, and all of the original symptoms are back, though not as bad. I am on 50 mg a day.

So far, I have been checked for Thyroid, PFT lung test, and am scheduled to have an Echo next week of my heart.
My cardiologist doesn't believe its the heart, and my Pulmonary specialist doesn't believe its the lungs. If you ask me, its the heart.

One symptom I noticed is when standing, the pulse increases and stays up until I sit down again. At night, I must sleep propped up on two pillows or I cannot breath easily. During the day, my average heart rate is 110, and increases to near 150 at night.

The rapid pulse can't be good! I need to see my PCP about switching from Atenolol to a different beta-blocker.

The onset of shortness of breath only occurs when the heart rate speeds up, generally only at night. All of the doctors I've seen were baffled, they don't have a clue as to what is causing this. Just recently, my blood pressure has also increased to an average of 150/100.

Something else worth mentioning is I smoked 2 packs a day for 5 years, I am 21 years old. I quit the day these symptoms started. I do still use snuff.

Does anyone have a clue as to what could be causing these symptoms? Is this a heart related issue?

Best regards,

Ryan

Last edited by Administrator; 11-23-2011 at 09:56 AM.

 
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Old 12-18-2004, 08:01 PM   #2
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Re: Introduction

Good for you for stopping smoking! Now, realize that snuff still contains nicotine which affects heart rate and blood pressure so try to quit that too

Maybe it would help to try and break your symptoms down into a list that you can show the doctors. Also keep a journal of what symptoms you get and when. This might help them figure out a pattern.

You said your heart rate increases when you stand up and decreases when you sit down. What is it when you're sitting vs. when you're standing and how long does the increase/decrease take? These are also things that might help the doctors determine what is going on.
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Old 12-18-2004, 08:53 PM   #3
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Re: Introduction

Wow you've really been through alot. I can understand why the doctors are baffled. It seems like there is some unknown factor causing all of these symptoms. Are they sure you arent anemic? I know that could cause tachycardia.

I think the ECHO will be very helpful in ruling out a problem with your heart. How good are the doctors in your area? If they cant solve the problem you may have to find new ones.

I would be careful around the lead. I know you said it's not present anymore but it sounds like you may have been poisoned. I cant help but think it might have something to do with your problem. It causes damage to many organs and can cause anemia. Just because it's not showing up now doesnt mean there isnt damage from it.

Your Blood pressure is too high. You really need some medicine to get that under control. Also, an elevated heart rate will make you feel dizzy and short of breath. If the heart is beating so fast for a long time, it's working too hard and that can cause problems.

I really dont think this is a heart problem. It sounds like something else is affecting how hard and fast the heart is working. Hopefully the ECHO shows that your heart is working well and there are no problems with the heart itself. I really doubt there is anything wrong in that area, I think your problem lies elsewhere.

Good luck and let us know what you find out!

Last edited by FrontierDriver2; 12-18-2004 at 09:58 PM.

 
Old 12-19-2004, 05:53 AM   #4
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Re: Introduction

I'd do TWO things, Ryan:
1. Get a re-test for lead poisoning. I'm thinking perhaps when they tested you the first time it was only in your lungs...by now it might have gotten to your bloodstream.
2. Have a stress stest with nuclear imaging of your heart. Some of your symptoms can readily be cardiac related.

Maybe of interest:
Quote:
If a worker has an initial blood lead test result of more than 40 micrograms/dL (1.93 micromol/L), for example, testing should be done every two months until two consecutives lead tests show a blood lead level (BLL) below 40 micrograms/dL (1.93 micromol/L). Higher levels call for closer monitoring. Appropriate medical follow-up exams also are required as is a zinc protoporphyrin test (ZPP).

For diagnosis:
The test can help determine whether symptoms, including fatigue, changes in mood, nausea, headache, tremors, weight loss, or decreased libido, are due to lead poisoning. The test may also be needed if a patient has peripheral neuropathy, anemia, reproductive failure, encephalopathy, or memory loss, which are symptoms of lead poisoning.
p.s. Snuff is not innocuous and a case of nasal carcinoma is one of the real miseries of life.

Last edited by Lenin; 12-19-2004 at 05:55 AM.

 
Old 12-19-2004, 10:17 AM   #5
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Re: Introduction

I agree with Lenin. The more I think about it, it seems like lead could be the cause of your problems. Dont totally dismiss that, you need to get more testing done.

 
Old 12-19-2004, 10:27 AM   #6
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Re: Introduction

WOW! Thanks for all of the great replies!

I had never thought of the Anemia. I did a Google search of the symptoms, and found that I do have most of them. I will ask the doctors to do a blood test to rule out Anemia.

I am scheduled to have the ECHO this Wed, I sure hope that my heart is OK.

Going back to Sept 8: This all happened at once, without warning. One minute I was fine, and the next was in distress. Is it odd for there not to be any warning signs? Perhaps it is Lead related. My Cardiologist stated that Lead in smoke form (as found in solder), doesn't actually contain lead at all, which kind of surprised me. The smoke, however, does contain flux (zinc chloride). Since the incident, I use a fume extractor to remove the smoke from my work area, it works very well!

The Atenolol is giving me some weird side-effects, one of which is high blood pressure. The reason why I was prescribed Atenolol was for the rapid heart beat. Before starting Atenolol, my BP was 120/70, it has since risen to
150/100. The Atenolol's effect to lower my pulse no longer works, I think it may be doing more harm than good. Tomorrow, I will see my family doctor about switching to something else.

A few other things I could mention is when this originally occured (back on sept 8), the numbness affected only one side of my body, the left side (face, hand, leg, left eye). The Cardiologist suggested that this might have been a small TIA (mini-stroke). The numbness now affects both sides.

I had a spiral CT scan to rule out pulmonary embelisms (spelling?), none were detected. Blood gases were normal, chest X-ray was normal, thryroid was normal. This last ECHO test will hopefully rule out the heart. The PFT test was questionable, I had a really hard time blowing out enough air, and during the test, became very dizzy.

There is no doubt that something caused these symptoms to occur, whether lead, flux fumes, etc. I also work around several other chemicals, including PCB's, Methyl Ethyl Keytone, Isopropanol, and Ethylene Glycol. Perhaps cigarette smoking contributed to the symptoms as well.

If it's Lead, I stopped using it and switched over to Antimony solder (not lead containing). I'm not sure how long Lead stays in the body.

One other "guess" by the Cardiologist was Carbon Monoxide poisoning, something to do with Hemoglobin.

I'll post back with the results of the ECHO.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to reply.

Best regards,

Ryan

 
Old 12-19-2004, 10:30 AM   #7
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Re: Introduction

Just remembered something:

Blue Fingernails, when the pulse goes up severely, the onset of shortness of breath begins, and the fingernails have a blue tint to them. Not sure if this is useful to anyone.

-Ryan

 
Old 12-19-2004, 05:32 PM   #8
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Re: Introduction

I thought about Carbon Monoxide poisoning too. But the reason that doesnt make any sense is that you wouldnt be continually exposed to it so your symptoms would go away. If you were continuously being exposed to a low level of carbon monoxide you might have symptoms such as those that you describe. I think that is unlikely.

If you did have a heart problem, there should be some symptoms leading up to it. You could experience chest pain and shortness of breath even when walking a short distance. That doesnt always happen but there usually are warning signs.

The blue tint to the fingernails is caused by the decrease of oxygen in your blood. Look up "cyanosis" online and you should find some causes. Heart problems can cause this, but I dont think so in your case. If you were born with an abnornmality of the heart it would have likely turned up as a child. Problems with the lungs can cause the finger nail beds to turn blue. Abormalities of the blood can also cause this. I think your rapid pulse, and shortness of breath are caused by the decrease of oxygen in your blood. The heart is having to work harder and faster to pump blood through your body to deliever oxygen to the different organs.

I have read that it takes a few months for lead to leave the body if you have been poisoned.

 
Old 12-19-2004, 05:36 PM   #9
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Re: Introduction

DEFINATELY tell your doc about the blue fingernails being related to the shortness of breath and increased heart-rate! That is an indication that there is not enough oxygen in your blood. I'd look at lung function (possibly related to the lead?) as a starting point, and an expert could definately use that symptom as a way of narrowing down what to look for.
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Old 12-19-2004, 05:47 PM   #10
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Re: Introduction

Was there ever anytime you inhaled fumes from chemicals you thought you shouldnt have?? Maybe something you work with has affected the lungs. You are so young to have anything seriously wrong. Let the doctor know about the chemicals you work with and the blue finger nail beds. A decrease in oxygen in the blood can make you feel really bad, increase the pulse, etc... Also, what brand did you smoke before all this started? I didnt quit till I got sick either. Some of my symptoms are similar to yours but I dont think I have a decrease in blood oxygen. One of the last times I had it tested it was at 98%.

Last edited by FrontierDriver2; 12-19-2004 at 05:53 PM.

 
Old 12-19-2004, 06:15 PM   #11
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Re: Introduction

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrontierDriver2
Was there ever anytime you inhaled fumes from chemicals you thought you shouldnt have?? Maybe something you work with has affected the lungs. You are so young to have anything seriously wrong. Let the doctor know about the chemicals you work with and the blue finger nail beds. A decrease in oxygen in the blood can make you feel really bad, increase the pulse, etc... Also, what brand did you smoke before all this started? I didnt quit till I got sick either. Some of my symptoms are similar to yours but I dont think I have a decrease in blood oxygen. One of the last times I had it tested it was at 98%.
Hi,

I used to work in the mining industry as a mechanic, I have used many chemicals, often times being overly exposed to them. They are typical industrial chemicals (paint thinner, which is Methyl Ethyl Keytone), heat-sink compounds, industrial paint, Carbon Tetrachloride, and a few others. I haven't been exposed to any of these since July.

The only other thing I can think of is PCB's (polychlorinated bi-phenyls). I was working with leaky oil filled capacitors containing this substance the day this occured. When burned, they release Dioxins. There isn't much info on PCB's, as they were banned from commerical use in 1972. I soldered over the oil on the terminals of the capacitor. I mentioned this to all the doctors, they haven't heard of this stuff. I have worked with this material in the past without problems. The reason for using such a dangerous substance is for sound, they are very good sounding capacitors for audio applications (not worth the risk though, I'll never use them again).

I smoked Marlboro 100's, 2-packs a day. What symptoms are you experiencing if you don't mind my asking? Were they found to be heart-related?

Best regards,

Ryan

 
Old 12-19-2004, 06:53 PM   #12
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Re: Introduction

My symptoms just started all of a sudden likes yours. I started to feel really dizzy and sick all the time. I could hardly get out of bed. I had weakness on one side for a while at the beginning. That did go away. My neurologist said that I had never had a stroke so no worries there. I had spells where I would nearly pass out. Just all of a sudden I would almost black out no matter where I was. Lots of palpitations, some chest pains, very rapid pulse at times. I would just walk across a room and I could feel my heart pounding and beating very fast. If I was sitting down it was fine. My blood pressure had always been low and it started being high all the time. I had some shortness of breathe at times and pain all over my body. Im sure I had more symptoms too I cant remember them all right now. I started talking Altace for high blood pressure and I gradually began to feel better. I still have some pain in my arms and shoulders at times.

In the beginning, I was convinced I had a heart problem. I had an ECHO done. It showed nothing wrong. The pain and sickness contiued. I then had a stress test done. That showed nothing. I went to a cardiologist where I had a stress echo done. That found nothing. However, my cardiologist believes there is a secondary cause for my high blood pressure. I recently had an MRA of my kidneys and I did a 24 hour urine test. I have not gotten the results of those back yet.

All of my symptoms started on July 4th. I really didnt begin to feel better until the middle of November. I think smoking (marlboro reds) could have caused some of my problems. I did have some tick bites and felt like I might have something to do with my sickness. I was treated for lyme disease. I never tested positive for that though.

I have never had my blood oxygen level drop like you. At least if it did drop I didnt know it. As long as I dont smoke, my heart rate and blood pressure stay low.

Good luck with your appointment tomorrow. Let us know if they switch your meds.

Last edited by FrontierDriver2; 12-19-2004 at 06:57 PM.

 
Old 12-19-2004, 07:22 PM   #13
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Re: Introduction

I don't smoke, and never have, so I don't know much about this - but is it possible that some of these symptoms are actually related to nicotine withdrawal? Just a thought. Trying to come up with every possible answer here...
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Old 12-19-2004, 09:03 PM   #14
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Re: Introduction

Quitting did cause me alot of anxiety.. but I didnt quit until I began feeling sick. Im just not sure what is related to quitting, but some of it probably is.

 
Old 12-20-2004, 06:34 PM   #15
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Re: Introduction

Funny you should mention Lyme Disease. This year in particular, the number of Ticks was rediculous at my place.
I live near the woods, there are many ticks in this area. I have never seen as many as I did this year. Cutting grass around the woods, it was impossible to avoid exposure to them.

I never made the connection between the ticks and my symptoms, perhaps some testing is in order(though if it were Lyme disease, its probably too late to do much for it)

Heck, I'll try any testing at this point!

I don't believe the nicotine withdrawl has any effect on these symptoms (could be wrong though). The symptoms started for me before I quit. I see we both smoked nearly the same cigarettes, I heard that the Marlboro's were the worst kind to smoke, that there is an additive in them. Who knows?

Best regards,

Ryan

 
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