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  • Anybody???? Concerns about shortness of breath and very fast heart rate

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    Old 11-15-2005, 09:49 AM   #1
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    Anybody???? Concerns about shortness of breath and very fast heart rate

    {Please follow your question on this thread. Your other thread has been removed because it's now a duplicate thread. Thanks, Ms_Mod}

    I am 43, have had shortness of breath pretty chronically since July. I went to my internist who ran lots of bloodwork and recently ordered a stress test to rule out cardiopulmonary problems. I am thin but haven't worked out in awhile except for keeping up with two toddlers. They also did an EKG in the GP office as well as a spirometry test to check lung function. Those were normal. They ruled out reflux as a cause for my shortness of breath and the bloodwork ruled out other things like thyroid, autoimmune issues, etc. Now we've been exploring the anxiety angle. I also have horrible insomnia that Ambien and Lunesta don't help. Coupled with my insomnia, my racing mind, and low level of chronic anxiety being home with two little ones, that seems logical.

    When I went for the stress EKG, the Dr. scared the hell out of me. First of all, I was nervous so my resting hb was around 115/min. It fluctuated around there when they hooked my up to the machine. He commented on that right off the bat. They got me up to around 165/min. and I was winded but fine. My heart slowly went up to that pace. As he's talking to me and asking what other tests I've had (have I had a chest xray? etc), the fact that my heart rate was VERY fast and how he's going to order another echocardiogram (had one over 5 yrs ago to rule out a heart murmur - it was fine). So....I'm getting more anxious by the minute. My bp never shot up much (it's always on the low side and the diastolic didn't budge from 80) and he said I had a slow and steady increase in heart rate, although it didn't come down as quickly as he would've liked, ignoring the fact that our conversation was making me REALLY nervous. He seemed puzzled by the whole thing. I asked him what the problem could be and he said that some people just "run high" and that there's no explanation. I pressed for more and he said it could also indicate a weak heart, sometimes they're caused by viruses, etc. I asked him what you do for that and he mentioned something about just "hoping and praying" and then he said something about heart transplants, etc. Then he asked me if I ever saw the end of NYPD Blue when Jimmy Smits got killed off - evidently he had a bad heart. I was so freaked out by that point and wanted to keep my composure that I made an appt for an echo on Thurs. and walked out of there. The more questions I asked, the more worried I got.

    I have two children under 3 and I'm freaking out. Yes, he did say it could be nothing but seemed really worried about my rapid heart rate and seemed to minimize the stress component. I just talked to my GP re: this visit and he tried to calm me and said maybe this guy was just speaking off the cuff (he didn't know him - new partner) and that my resting HR at his office was 100 but they attributed it to "white coat" during my visit. He didn't see anything that stuck out and tried to get me calm but did say to follow up with the echo. He just sent me for this stress test since he's trying to rule out other things. Interestingly, my breathing got better for a few days while I had a cold last week. Some weeks, I'll get a few days where it's much better. I never thought about my HR until now. I don't usually ever feel like I'm hyperventilating - just a constant feeling of anxiety. Great....something else to worry about.

    I took my resting HR last night and today and it's in the 70s most of the time. Is it so unusual for it to shoot up so quickly and sustain at such a fast rate when anxious?

    Any comments would be welcome! TIA...

    Last edited by msmod; 11-15-2005 at 11:06 AM.

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    Old 11-15-2005, 10:20 AM   #2
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    Re: Anybody???? Concerns about shortness of breath and very fast heart rate

    Absolutely anxiety can cause rapid HR and sustain it unless you calm yourself. The doc who did the stress test did you a disservice. Part of his responsibility is to reassure you that your are OK and it seems as if he brushed you off. As far as hyperventilation is concerned, it can be either chronic or acute. With the chronic, you do not even realize that you are breathing incorrectly. Look up HVS on the net and it can explain alot of symptoms that we feel.

    As far as the stress test goes it was normal. Unless you had pain or were so winded that you could not continue you are ok. Even if the echo showed a murmur it is no big deal. I have one and it is harmless.

    I have found that when I focus on a bodily sensation I make it worse which from the sounds of it you have done as well. Try and refocus your thoughts on something else. Our bodies need no help in breathing and our hearts beat without us thinking about so there is no need to worry.

    Old 11-15-2005, 10:39 AM   #3
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    Re: Anybody???? Concerns about shortness of breath and very fast heart rate

    the best way to breathe is deep and slow in a relaxed way, anxiety can tense the muscles making deep breathing not possible, have they thought of asthma?
    try to ignore your body, dont monitor your heart or breathing

    jacuzzi spa baths, massage, hot tubs or just a long soak in a hot bath will help a lot, massage for relaxation is also very helpful, books on home massage are available if theres anyone who could massage you
    Life is not a dress rehearsal

    Old 11-15-2005, 10:40 AM   #4
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    Re: Anybody???? Concerns about shortness of breath and very fast heart rate

    I'm having the same thing - it started in october and has been this way constantly since then - Also my pulse runs around 100 all the time but has been 120 two days last week....I had the echocardiogram and a pulmonary function tests (see if the lungs are producing the right amount of air) and they decided it's anxiety.... There's a definite feedback process with this - they told me I have to learn to interupt it - first I get anxious, then I hyperventilate, then it sends signals to my brain that Im
    anxious and so on....So I have anti-anxiety meds (but they haven't cleared it all up) but I am trying to concentrate on slowing down my breathing and doing anything I can to distract myself - and destress myself - oddly I've found walking slowly around the block helps - I can't go fast because I'm so breathless - but I just go my own pace and it helps quiet my mind and body....this has been really distressing to me too - I hope you find relief soon....It seems the heart etc. can all be ok with anxiety caused breathlessness....
    Best wishes,

    Old 11-15-2005, 10:50 AM   #5
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    Re: Anybody???? Concerns about shortness of breath and very fast heart rate

    That EKG doctor sounds like a jerk to have scared you so badly. I agree with the previous post -- focusing on your bodily sensations can definitely make things worse. I'm having a problem with my heart rate being too fast at rest -- around 100 -- and some high blood pressure. I also was up the other night feeling like I couldn't breath, which is very common with anxiety. I've been really scared about it, but noticed the past few days that after I exercise and then lie on the floor and do deep abdominal breathing for a few minutes, it comes down to 75. I'm thinking it's probably my anxiety returning after discontinueing med. this spring. I'm going to see a doctor and see about getting a prescription for xanax, a tranquilizer, just to see if this makes a difference -- at least then I'll KNOW it's the anxiety and then I can work harder on relaxation without worrying about other health problems.

    Have you spoken to the doctor about trying a medication for anxiety, just to see if it makes a difference for you?

    Hang in there

    Old 11-15-2005, 01:01 PM   #6
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    Re: Anybody???? Concerns about shortness of breath and very fast heart rate

    oh yeah, short of breath for about a week now and chest pains and painful breathing to boot. I spent a few nights ago in the er and noone seemed all that concerned except me. I have been panicking thinking lung cancer and all those nice thoughts . Its scaring the hell out of me!

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