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    Old 10-19-2004, 07:38 PM   #1
    MarkH04
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    New guy with the heart thing going on (long)

    I'm new here, 42 male, married 2 kids.

    I just started reading this board today and Holy crap. I am truly amazed, sad and relieved that I'm not alone with this. It's opened my eyes a bit to what my true problems may be.

    My anxiety is also heart related but also covers a decent range of other symptoms from inability to concentrate, to worrying needlessly over everything and anything to not being able to sleep properly. Most every day there's something that I dwell on all day long, either a heart related ailment or some obscure thing from the past or even worrying excessively about future events that I have to participate in. My future events one is great, I always have thoughts that even if it's something that I enjoy, that I'll have a bad time or someone will get hurt.


    I just got back this weekend from a cruise to the southern caribbean, absolutely beautiful. On day two had a panic attack of sorts while snorkeling(thought I was having a heart attack while out about 80 yds from shore just floating) and spent the rest of the week checking my pulse and taking my blood pressure (always carry my blood pressure thingie with me while traveling). This is all done very discreetly from my wife but I think she sees some of it. Of course, pulse was high all week and blood pressure was higher than normal so I had to worry all week that I was going to die in some third world country while my kids were escorting the casket off the ship.

    Didn't happen but it sure did put a damper on the amount of fun I had. Drinking of course gets rid of the thoughts temporarily but it must have been a curious sight for those around me at the blackjack table watching me take my pulse between hands. Hangover days are worse, have to check my pulse constantly. As soon as I got back from the cruise my pulse and bp went back to normal for a few days until my Dr's appointment.

    I also read years ago that a heavy meal could trigger a heart attack and that so many heart attacks happen in the morning. So this manifested itself into my feeling ill everyday during breakfast on the cruise ship. It's actually a pretty common occurance for me to feel ill if we go out to eat even while at home but I don't let anyone else know it, I just try to avoid going out.

    Anyway, I went to the Dr today for a followup for high blood pressure from last March. I made some lifestyle changes and my blood pressure although never really extremely high was even better now. Pulse was down and didn't gain any weight from quitting smoking. Well, I show up at her office and after months of excellent blood pressure readings from home, it was now sky high and my heart was racing.

    Did I mention that snack food is my friend? It seems to be one of the few things that gets rid of obsessive or worrisome thoughts for a short period of time. Key is to keep eating and then all thoughts go away, probably why I'm about 30 lbs overweight also.

    Since I quit smoking I now have a whole new set of replacement behaviors like constant gum chewing, various twitches and neck/shoulder tension all day everyday.

    My Dr wants me to see a cardiologist because she thinks there's something that just not right but can't figure out what it is. The subject of anxiety came up today afters months trying to convince her that all my readings at home are great. I asked her to look into treating my anxiety and she blew it off. She's never asked me about having anxiety or if I have any symptoms but I truly believe that this is the root of all of my issues.

    I've been to the ER 3 or 4 times over the last 10 years and they never find anything. I think my anxiety has manifested itself to a point where the symptoms are perfected and give just the result of what I'm anxious about.

    I worry about my heart and blood pressure if I can't find anything else to worry and dwell about.

    If I'm thinking high heart rate, up it goes. High Blood pressure, sure, no problem.. Dizziness, can produce that one in about an hour. Palpitations, coming right up, there's one....

    Just this past March she had me have a stress test that came out negative and now everytime I go to see my Dr, my heart races and blood pressure rises but it never did it for the 10 years I saw her before. All's fine when I monitor it at home. Even 10 minutes before leaving this morning blood pressure was perfect, as soon as I hit her office, up it goes. I can get my bp to stay high all day I dwell on it.

    Today she mentioned about how someone had symptoms like mine and it ended up being 4 blockages. Then she mentioned that exercise could be dangerous for me at this point and to not over do it. So today I walked around thinking that at any moment I'd be dropping to the floor. If your Dr told you that exercise could be dangerous wouldn't you be flipping out?

    Anyway so instead of doing the multitude of work I had to do today, I obsessed and read this board pretty much all day long, well almost all day long, there were brief intervals of reading reviews on blood pressure monitors, since mine must not be accurate even though it was verified it twice.

    My Dr has never asked about anxiety or symptoms of anxiety but I have em all. After reading here and realizing that I'm not alone I did the anxiety test at lexapro and answered all questions with a yes except for one (being easily tired, I usually only get 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night max, last night was about 4.)

    I'm seeing more and more that I have all the symptoms of gad but I'm not sure if I can convince my Dr that I do and not sure if I do convince her if she'll change her course of treatment which right now is sending me for more heart tests. Worst part is that most of the hospitals and cardiologists around here are booked for months so I have this pending doom thing hanging over me until I get test results months or longer from now...

    Right now I have some xanax that I get refilled maybe once a year for flight anxiety but find that taking one every once in a while makes me feel a little better. I only get 6 at a time usually so only have a couple extra after a flight.

    Well so even after my rather glum introduction there is a question in here after all.

    How do I convince my Dr to try looking into and treating my anxiety to see if my symptoms go away? She has no idea of how f****d up my head is so she has to believe that all my symptoms are physical.

    Of course there's always the nagging thought that if it's not anxiety than it really could be physical problems (arrrrggggghhhhh).


    Thanks for any insight,

    Mark

    Last edited by MarkH04; 10-19-2004 at 07:52 PM.

     
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    Old 10-19-2004, 09:38 PM   #2
    kaley
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    Re: New guy with the heart thing going on (long)

    Hey Mark,
    I think about my heart constantly. I have severe tension in my neck, shoulders and upper back. There is not a day that goes by that it leaves my mind. I'm constantly checking my BP and pulse also. Have been to numerous Dr's only to have them tell me that it is stress and anxiety. Maybe because I am female and 32....I have no idea. I have been to the ER twice in the past 6 months thinking that I was having a heart attack. I have had an EKG and all is well. They listen to my heart and always tell me that I am totally healthy. I can not seem to convince myself of this...I know how you feel and it is a living hell....well actually it is not even living. The more you focus on the symptoms the worse it gets....Please feel free to talk to me anytime ....I KNOW HOW YOU ARE FEELING!!! Take Care....Kaley
    ps. Get a new DR.....

     
    Old 10-20-2004, 06:49 AM   #3
    Graciecat
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    Re: New guy with the heart thing going on (long)

    Has your Doctor never heard the term "White Coat Syndrome"?
    That's when your BP is normal at home but the second you go into a Doctors office it goes sky high.
    I suffer from this and my Doctor himself is the one who told me about "White Coat Syndrome".
    When I would go in there and my BP would be so high I got all freaked out...I was like you, for a long time I always got a normal reading in the office and then all of a sudden just the thought of having it taken there would send me into a panic causing my pluse and BP to go through the roof.
    My Doctor never got freaked out about it, he would just wait about 15 or so minutes and take it again and it was usually down to normal again...or very close.
    He then told me that if I was worried about it to take my BP at home everyday for a week at the same time everyday and bring the readings to my next appointment....at home I never got a reading over 120/80...in fact most of my readings were well below that.
    I took those readings to my next appointment, he looked at them and said "I told you that you don't have high BP, now relax and stop worrying about it."
    He told me that if I got a reading of 140/90 or higher EVERYTIME I took it at home, then he'd be concerened.

    There is no test for panic and anxiety..the only way to really know is to have tests done to rule out other things.
    I had blood tests to check my blood sugar readings, thyroid levels, EKG's, Chest x-ray's...and others.
    Nothing showed up, everything was normal and that's when my Doctor Dx'd me with panic disorder...it runs in my family.
    It's probably a good idea to have your heart checked out, and a few other tests, such as blood sugar and thyroid levels...but when those tests come back normal if your Doctor won't listen to your feeling that it may be panic/anxiety, then in my opinioin it's time to find a different Doctor.

    BTW....I used to be able to make my pulse and BP go up just thinking about it also, and like you said I could make my heart skip beats, or get dizzy on cue.
    The mind is a very powerful thing.

     
    Old 10-20-2004, 07:46 AM   #4
    twanger
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    Re: New guy with the heart thing going on (long)

    First of all, your doctor has to do the cardiologist routine due to litigation problems. If there was something wrong with your heart and she ignored it, guess what. She would be out of business. That is what that's all about.

    You are a 42 year old man who is overweight, smoked, and has high blood pressure when you come to her office. You have 3 flags for heart disease. She couldn't ignore those even if she wanted to.

    After you go to the cardiologist and get a clean bill of health, she will consider anxiety because, as the previous poster said, there is no test for anxiety.

    I agree, your symptoms sound like anxiety. You actually made me laugh because I did almost the same thing on my last vacation. I started to walk on the beach and it was very windy due to a hurricane passing by. Well, I had to keep my balance and my shoulders and arm ( left) started to ache. Immediately, I thought that I was having a heart attack.

    I didn't want to tell my husband because he thinks I am nuts over this anyway. I became short of breath and had to go lie down. I did this through the remainder of the vacation. However, there were times when I forgot about my heart and took long walks without any problem.

    Anxiety can ruin a lot of good times. By the way, my husband had 5 bypasses 3 years ago and had none of your symptoms. Just got a slight pain in his left arm. He had bad cholesterol for a long time. He is doing great now and does anything he wants.

     
    Old 10-20-2004, 07:50 AM   #5
    MarkH04
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    Re: New guy with the heart thing going on (long)

    Hi Kaley, are you on any meds for anxiety?

    Funny (or maybe not) but I have two bp machines at home, an old one that you pump up by hand and a newer auto inflating one. I couldn't wait to get home last night after going to the Dr's in the morning to test my pulse and bp. Of course it was a little high when I got home from being panicked all day so I got out the old machine to compare, did left arm first, then right arm and they were different, went off into a frenzy and took my measurements no less than 10 times on each arm until the readings got close, thought the top of my head was going to blow off.

    Once the pattern starts it doesn't stop until I have some type of test that comes out negative. So I'm spinning pretty good today arm hurts, twitching eye, shoot the works. Took my bp this morning when I woke up and it was LOW, 116/60 immediate thought that it must be heart failure so that put me into a spin of feeling dizzy when I stood up, but good old panic set in and took my bp again and it was 124/78, made me feel a little better.


    Today after reading this board I'm fairly convinced that my problems are almost all anxiety related. I have at some time or another had most every major symptom that people are writing about.

    Thinking of calling the Dr to see if she'll start me on something for anxiety but first I have to research the crap out of every drug and see what might be best for me. Looks like another day of internet research instead of working.

    Thanks for the support,

    Mark

     
    Old 10-20-2004, 08:08 AM   #6
    MarkH04
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    Re: New guy with the heart thing going on (long)

    Twanger- Let's not forget about my high cholesterol, did blood work yesterday and if it's high then I have to start lipitor. I don't disagree with what the Dr is doing but I just did this in March, went and had a stress test, ekg, bloodwork, etc all came back okay. I do realize there is a possibility of a real problem and whether there is or isn't my anxiety isn't going to go away. I've mentioned anxiety to her and she seems to ignore it and focuses more on the physical symptoms. She actually never checks my bp twice so who knows, it could be lower at the end of our always brief and rushed meetings.

    Graciecat- Dr never mentioned this term but I did, she blew it off. She did mention however that there are some people that she sees that she doesn't even bother taking blood pressure or pulse because she knows it'll be high. I've been going to this Dr for 10 years and even though I've been to the ER several times, had several stress test, xray's, ekg's, blood work that all come back good (except for slightly elevated cholesterol) she still thinks something isn't quite right but doesn't know what it is. What really really bothers me is that my bp and pulse have always been somewhat elevated when I go to see her and it was never a problem for 10 years, all was well. Well the one time that it was truly high sent me into a spin and it's high now everytime that I see her. Now she makes everything seem so critical like it's life or death, what about the other 10 years worth of history?

    I don't think she's considering anxiety and it's probably because I hide my anxiety so well and she never asks that all she has to go on is the physical symptoms. I bring in my readings from home and she ignores them, I had to force her to read them yesterday. One week she was concerned that my pulse was too high so I monitored pulse for a while brought in my results, now she's concerned that bp is too high and thinks that it shouldn't be able to jump that quickly in that short of time. From what I'm reading it's pretty classic for someone with anxiety for it to be all over the place minute to minute.

    Thanks,

    Mark

     
    Old 10-20-2004, 08:11 AM   #7
    redherring
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    Re: New guy with the heart thing going on (long)

    I know from experience that blood pressure and pulse hypervigelence leads to increased anxiety. Increases anxiety = High BP and pulse readings!!! I went through this for two months! I landed up in the ER with perfectly normal vital signs. Most likely there's nothing wrong with your ticker. However, you may want to see your doctor to get a sense of comfort. Now, what I did was NOT take my BP or Pulse for a long period of time. This has helped with my anxiety immensely. Good luck.

     
    Old 10-20-2004, 08:52 AM   #8
    PPPM
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    Re: New guy with the heart thing going on (long)

    I'm not going to get into all the stuff the previous posters said, because they are essentially right. You do need to rule out medical problems before you can diagnose anxiety. But from what you post, dollars to doughnuts it's anxiety. Getting a clean bill of health can actually go a long way to giving you some peace of mind, thereby alleviating, to some degree, your anxiety.

    In the meantime, you ARE anxious, even if the anxiety is fueled by your concern (real or imgagined, it makes no difference) for your health. Your doctor should be able to prescribe more Xanax or Ativan to help you deal with the anxiety while you go through the process of ruling out a medical basis for it. Take a Xanax before you see the doctor, and I'll bet your BP and heart rate are closer to normal, then tell him you took one, to prove that it helps. Benzo's are not the answer, but they can help you get through the temporary tough times until you find the answer.

    Good Luck

    John

     
    Old 10-20-2004, 10:15 AM   #9
    twanger
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    Re: New guy with the heart thing going on (long)

    If your doctor does not take your bp twice while you are there, I would consider seeing someone else. It is well documented that people can have high bp when they visit a doctor or medical facility. Doctors should always take the bp twice. All they need to do is wait for the patient to calm down and usually the bp goes down.

    If you had all these test previously, I would say that there is not much more for you to do, except take your Lipitor, start exercising, and watch your fat intake.

    Go to someone else. She is not listening to you.

     
    Old 10-20-2004, 01:33 PM   #10
    fmor76
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    Re: New guy with the heart thing going on (long)

    Hi Mark. I also suffer from anxiety, shortness of breath, the typical "heart" related symptoms. My husband has in the past had panic/anxiety attacks and thought that he was having a heart attack. He won't admit that its a panic attack because he just doesn't believe that he could actually have stress in his life. Anway, I sent him to the cardiologist and after many expensive tests, the dr. said the only thing that it could be is anxiety. My point is, if you've had all of the heart related tests and they still can't find anything, you should prob. focus on a way to relieve your anxiety either through meditation or medication. I think alot of these doctors scare us into believing that there could possible be a slim chance that something is wrong just so that they can charge their patients for every exam and test.

    My husbands doctor was good because they did the required test, conclued that his heart was healthy with no problems, hence it was all anxiety driven.

     
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