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Heart Palpitations, Chest and Head Discomfort, Please Help!

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Old 05-06-2010, 09:49 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 4
PSmith40 HB User
Heart Palpitations, Chest and Head Discomfort, Please Help!

Hi forum, my name is Peter and I’m 23 years of age. For the last two months I have been suffering from palpitations and various forms of discomfort in my back and chest which are unfortunately causing me to become very anxious and are greatly affecting my quality of life.

The problems first started when I was spending a few months away from home on business in America, I had been out the evening before and had consumed perhaps four or five cans of Red Bull mixed with vodka although had not been particularly drunk that evening as I had been drinking fairly large amounts of water in-between drinks.

The next day, whilst sitting at my desk at about mid afternoon, I started getting the sensation of what felt like a very rapid and pounding heart beat, and so I journeyed to the nearest ER dept. in the area. My heart rate was beating at about 120 bpm when I was received into the clinic (I expect it was doing perhaps a little more whilst I was en-route). Upon arrival I was given an EKG test – which proved to be normal – and when my heart had calmed down sufficiently I was released.

Over the four weeks that followed I made a further four trips to the ER room for much the same reason – although I had cut to virtually zero my alcohol and caffeine consumption as per the doctor’s advice – suffering primarily palpitations but the occasional sharp twinge of pain in the far left side of my chest (a symptom which has now disappeared).

When I returned to the UK from America I visited a Harley St. cardiologist who performed a further EKG, a stress-EKG, a cardio-graphic assessment (showing my ejection fraction – 67%), and wore a Holter and a seven-day event monitor. I also had at various times blood tests showing – from what I can remember – my potassium levels and the adrenaline production of my thyroid gland (for which a urine sample was taken). Further to that my blood pressure is normal, and I had at one point a CAT scan of my chest using illuminating dye to determine whether a blood clot was responsible for my problems (as during one of the five sets of blood tests I had done it was reported that a certain marker was present – the details I can’t recall), and I have also had numerous chest x-rays.

All the tests which were performed looked completely normal and there was not at any point a cause for concern discovered. The cardiologist explained to me that the heart structure and rhythm looked perfectly normal and that there was nothing sinister discovered on any front.

The problem is that I still continue to get the palpitations, albeit less intensely than before, and so I was hoping that perhaps if I could put some questions to the experienced people here (both to any doctors and to people who have had similar experiences!) that my concerns might be further alleviated.

My questions, broadly speaking, are:
1)I have been getting feeling of pressure, tenseness, cloudiness and general discomfort inside my head – particularly in the upper and lower jaw , sinuses and temples – for the last few weeks (noticeably) but on and off for the last couple of years. The pressure comes and goes and doesn’t feel particularly like it should be heart related although it does sometimes accompany the palpitations but usually outlasts them by some hours. Is it possible that this is heart related? I notice also that when my interest and attention levels are particularly piqued (rather than forced for the sake of i.e. work), the discomfort is often absent (although I don’t know if it is dispelled if already present).

2)I have been feeling sharp discomfort in my lower neck region (upper back I suppose!), left and right sides of my chest, shoulders and mid-to-upper back. The pain in my neck is made worse by moving my head backwards as if to look up, and the pains elsewhere can often by stimulated by pressing on the affected area so it appears to be surface pain predominantly (I presume heart pain would be deeper and likely more concentrated). Could this be related? A gut feeling is that this pain in particular – which has only been with me for about a week – is stress or tension related.

3)I have been for the last year very disillusioned with the work that I do and myself in more general terms, and am leaving the company which I work for (for the last six years) to take a break and try and remedy these feelings. I am also very anxious (even stressed) about various things – mostly related to uncertainty about religious and other existential questions – about which my parents who raised me were very certain and very strict in their adherence, and which I have recently come to feel more skeptically about (albeit in a guilty and tentative fashion). Is it possible that this anxiety and these negative feelings on the while could be causing the palpitations – although I should mention these played less on my conscience before the palpitations first started than they do now?

4)I sometimes get tingling in my hands, usually both hands at once, although suspect that this is related to ulna nerve compression resulting from mild damage which I did to the nerve about five years ago. The tingling doesn’t feel quite the same as the tingling which I had become accustomed to after the nerve was first compressed, but it does seem to be intensified when I am using my hands for things such as typing. Is it possible that this is related?

Your help, insights and answers are greatly appreciated – you have no idea how much this has been on my mind lately!

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Old 10-27-2010, 05:36 PM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: utica, ny usa
Posts: 2
RAZ1980 HB User
Re: Heart Palpitations, Chest and Head Discomfort, Please Help!

I have had same symptoms as you described for about a month now. I'm 29 yr old female and was working 6 days a week, not getting enough sleep and under stress. First day of palpitations I thought i just needed rest, but it turned from palpitations to just a constant rapid heart rate or heavy beating that I could feel in chest pretty much all day and sometimes at night. I had pressure in temples and forehead and cheekbones, would get severe dizziness. I went to er twice, they did ekg, bloodwork, urine test, etc. Said it was stress, I agreed because I had been stressed, but now a month has gone by and I'm still having dull pains around heart and a rapid heart rate that gets worse when I eat or exert myself in any way. Pressure in head and dizziness has subsided, but I've lost weight and I was only 120lbs before this, i'm fatigued all the time because heart working so hard and I've been taking more time off from work and trying to stay stress free, stopped drinking caffeine and it just continues, some days better than others. When i went to er for second time they treated me like a drama queen and gave me prescription for xanax. Never been like this before and have had alot more stress in my past.

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Old 10-28-2010, 10:43 AM   #3
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 4
PSmith40 HB User
Re: Heart Palpitations, Chest and Head Discomfort, Please Help!

Hi Raz1980,

That sounds almost identical to what I was going through. I had the same tests that you had and more (ultrasonic cardiograph, stress ekg, xray in addition), and the doctors could not identify any serious problems with my heart - as in your case.

I was convinced I had a heart problem because there were too many symptoms for it to be, in my mind, a coincidence. I was getting continuous palpitations, a very heavy heart rate, a heart rate that pounded in my throat and stomach making me feel sick, and I was incredibly worried.

I went to get a second opinion from another doctor and he told me, very firmly, that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my heart and attributed it to stress, and told me that my heart could go on beating that way for years without causing me any trouble at all.

I really believed him, and started to try and live my life as I had before the trouble started as, after the initial few weeks of getting palpitations, I had become very anxious and afraid to spent extended period of time alone, etc, in-case I had a heart attack.

After a few months of trying to ignore the symptoms (remembering the doctors opinion that my heart was ok) I stopped focusing so much on the issues, and lo-and-behold my symptoms all went away. I then came to realise that a massive part of the problem was the stress that worrying about my heart added.

I believe that your doctor is absolutely right that stress and anxiety is causing your problems. I would never have thought I'd recover from this and I have. I still get the odd palpitation (everybody does) but without worry it's weeks between them, and they go immediately. An elevated heart rate is a natural reaction to stress and being overworked, and you need to find a way to relax - happy in the knowledge that there really is nothing wrong with your heart.

Stress is a funny thing, I read that you have been more stressed in your past but the funny this is so have I, and I did not feel particularly stressed when the palpitations started either, but I know there is a lot more under the surface than you'd expect (in terms of stress built up). We definitely reach a breaking point without realising we are any the worse when it happens. It's the main reason I absolutely refused to take stress or anxiety as an answer but it really was the problem. I don't think pills will help, they may even give exacerbate the problem because you are admitting something is wrong with you that needs medicating when in all likelihood there isn't.

My story is exactly the same as yours, I am certain your heart has nothing wrong with it. You should do what you can to prove to yourself that your heart is ok and find a doctor your respect and trust, and then believe him. In my opinion if you had anything seriously wrong with your heart at your age it would be a birth defect or disease, and these are exactly the kinds of things that would show up on a test, especially an ekg stress test or visual test like a cardiograph.

I hope this helps!

Old 10-29-2010, 05:15 PM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: utica, ny usa
Posts: 2
RAZ1980 HB User
Re: Heart Palpitations, Chest and Head Discomfort, Please Help!

thank you so much..that is what I needed to hear. Even though your not a doctor, I'm so happy to hear that you got over it, and it totally eases my worries about myself. I've learned that keeping busy and ignoring it has helped alot..its easier to ignore a racing heartbeat or dizziness if I'm busy moving around doing stuff then if i'm sitting around focusing on it. Eating has been getting easier, so I'm hoping to get the weight back on and everything will balance itself out again. I'm just so glad to hear someone who has experienced it get better again. Nobody seems to understand what its like, or why I've been so withdrawn for past month. I didnt even get the prescription of xanax, I refuse to be on pills..rather figure out how to control this on my own. I just go to work and stay busy and try to avoid any stressful situations or co-workers negativity. At home I stay busy unless i'm eating or sleeping. It seems to slowly be getting better so I hope I have the same outcome as you. Thank you so much for responding back..I was trying to have a positive outlook on this but it was still hard, but now knowing you got through it has changed my mindset completely. I will be good again. Thank you

Old 10-30-2010, 11:25 AM   #5
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 4
PSmith40 HB User
Re: Heart Palpitations, Chest and Head Discomfort, Please Help!

Hi Raz1980,

I am absolutely certain that you will be fine again, I never thought I'd get better and it took me about six months to get to a point where I was able to get on with my life again. I am somewhat predisposed to be anxious although I felt before this happened that I dealt with stress quite well, so I was really loathe to put any of my symptoms down to anxiety or stress, but that really was the root of my problems.

I also had terrible feelings of pressure inside my head, especially near the temples and upper jaw, but sometimes on the top of my head too. I had virtually all the symptoms that you had, instead of becoming dizzy I would my mental clarity would be dulled and I would feel foggy, and I had a plethora of heart related symptoms including of course the palpitations and heavy heart beat, dull aches in the left and center of my chest, sharp pains in the same area, pains in the neck and back, etc. I'd never have believed it unless it happened to me, but they really are are all just symptoms of anxiety.

Being worried about the anxiety symptoms greatly increases those same symptoms in a vicious cycle, and it's hard to break but the advice I was given by my doctor was to "make a friend" of the symptoms, as in to acknowledge that I have them, but to remember but they are not indicative of any heart related problem, and to then try and ignore them - don't take them too seriously.

If you're anything like me, you'll probably think "well that was *his* story, but perhaps mine is different", but remember that is realistically not going to be the case. You have had tests done and if you feel it would help to put you into a more positive mental state you should have more done if you can afford it. Those tests would almost certainly have detected anything that would be wrong, that's why they do them routinely - to rule serious problems out, you can have confidence in them.

I found that doing something proactive to try and help, such as exercising a little by going for a jog or swimming (anything that raises the heart rate), really helps me to *feel* that I am doing my part to make sure that my heart is able to cope with whatever my body demands of it. Exercise does a lot to help the mind as well as the body. If you think that you will panic when exercising (as I did at first) due to the inevitable rapid heart rate that accompanies physical exertion, then don't worry and try to do it when you are suffering less from the palpitations.

As I said before, I wouldn't underestimate the value of the opinion of a good doctor if you can afford it; you're not likely to learn anything new, but it will put your mind at ease.

Keep me updated

Old 11-18-2010, 02:39 PM   #6
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: boston, ma, usa
Posts: 18
mmcphee7117 HB User
Re: Heart Palpitations, Chest and Head Discomfort, Please Help!

stress/anxiety/panic...three tings it would seem.

I've had similar experiences. The ER trips with rapid heart rate with chest and head discomfort screams panic attack to me, which are a well known cause of palpitations.

For me, after my first panic atttacks/heart palps, it would all I could think about/focus on. This just caused more stress/anxiety which equated to higher heart rate and more frequent panic attacks. I went through a year long process of exams, therapy, etc. and finally feel like I have a handle on it. I educated myself about what was going on and also payed very close observation to "triggers" and initial symptoms so that I could catch it early and increase my understanding of my own situation. Meditation and other relaxation techniques help. Eventually with a better understanding, less "fear" of the unknown, anxiety went down. I was prescribed a benzo prn (as needed) for anxiety. I only take it if I begin to feel anxious and I am having a hard time ACCEPTING (this is key) that it is anxiety (sometimes I'll freak myself out thinking "maybe its my heart/brain/tumor/throat/etc." which it never is) sometimes it will progress to a anxiety level which is just too uncomfortable to deal with on my own and is potentially going to progress to panic (rapid heart rate, chest discomfort, palps, hyper ventilation which can lead to upset stomach due to giving off too much CO2....and then, yup, you guessed it...ER until I feel safe, calm down, take some ativan, and an hour later...I'm normal. all is well).

As for the muscle stuff....well I'm not sure but, stress, anxiety, and the like will create tension=tense muscles, which can occlude arteries, create pain and discomfort in all sort of strange ways.

my suggestion is try relaxation techniques like meditation, breath control, yoga. Learn what you can about anxiety/panic/palpitations. Ask about anti-anxiety meds for emergency situations (benzos for me) and try them when you find yourself worrying or symptoms come about. If they do the trick, well, then maybe you are in the same boat as me.

of course, listen to your doctor, for I am just another anxious individual with only similar experience.

Old 11-24-2010, 09:36 AM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 230
caring12 HB Usercaring12 HB User
Re: Heart Palpitations, Chest and Head Discomfort, Please Help!

I had this and consuming that much red bull btw is bad, but i did have a heart and kidney problem. all the symptoms you descirbe could be me prior to finding out i had a potassium wasting problem. get the labs on those .mine were on the low min but enough to make me quite sick. i now take a beta blocker for my heart and i did end up having a heart attack. ekg hate to say do not always catch things. i had pacs pvc and a very tachy heart that most eks never caught. a holter test did. and landing in the er. my chest hurt my eyes were acitn gup twitching odd aches and paions and the potassium and heart meds have gone a long way for me. preservere.

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