There’s no good way to describe the feeling other than a thump in your chest like you just had a heart hiccup. Many people describe the feeling in many ways. If you have ever experienced them they can be scary at first, a random skip of your normal heart rhythm is not something anyone will enjoy. If they come in pairs, become every other beat or last for hours they can be downright frightening. There are periods that I have experienced all of the above mentioned events and even worse.
With my heart condition I have always had an occasional experience but as I grow older they are becoming more frequent. They have at times made me so nervous that I have had to go to the emergency room, just to be reassured that what I was experiencing is non-life threatening. To be honest, not totally reassuring at times.
So how does one cure these dreaded events or prevent them from happening? I have been told by experts in their fields, Doctors that specialize in the electrophysiology of the heart and travel to other countries to teach doctors in the same field at world renowned hospitals, that there is a cure but at a very high expense and none that any insurance or doctor would perform to completely get rid of those pesky missed beats. It would entail a surgically performed procedure, through a catheter, to burn the nodes in your heart that create your normal rhythm and replace the signals with a two wire pacemaker. Not something to be taken lightly or even reversible. That patient would now be dependent on the pacemaker to beat his or her heart for the rest of their lives. No person would want to put themselves in that position, voluntarily, I hope.
Missed beats, to describe benign rhythms, considered not to be a threat to anyone’s life is not curable. Are they annoying? Yes. Are they difficult to live with? Yes. Can they make you feel ill? Yes. Will they kill you? NO!
There is no magic pill or ways to hold your breath or stand on your head and count backwards from 100, you get my drift. Right? Please don’t buy any herbal supplements or try some concoction you find on the internet. But wait, it’s not all gloom-or-doom for us who suffer from theses annoying buddies of ours. Before you get too discouraged, there are ways to limit them or make them less intense.
With over 40 years behind me I can tell you that the number one trigger for me is stress. And it doesn’t even have to be the kind of stress where you feel like you want to pull your freaking hair out. It could be something as simple as trying to make a major decision, something weighing on your mind or just being overwhelmed by a situation. Most “normal” people without a heart condition that experience PVC’s (Pre Ventricular Contractions), experience them when the “fight or flight” syndrome kicks in. But for us who are more sensitive to our adrenaline, we can experience them through many triggers.
The hardest thing to do is get rid of them once they start, so prevention is the best medicine. Meditation, Yoga, Medication for panic or anxiety disorders, getting plenty of sleep and fluids (water). No, Beer and wine don’t count. Staying healthy and exercising to your ability. I have found at times when they are the worst if I just get up and take a walk or do something that raises my heart rate above the resting rate that they will diminish. Not a guarantee but it works a lot of the times for me. Stay away from stimulants such as coffee and nicotine, two big triggers. If you feel as though you need coffee in the morning, try drinking some water first and switch to half-caffeinated. For some, I have learned, an over abundance of sugar can be a trigger so eat healthy.
The most important message I would like to convey with this post is if PVC’s or the feeling of missed beats makes you uncomfortable please make an appointment to see your doctor or visit an emergency room. Be certain that you’re not missing the identification of an abnormal rhythm that could possibly be life threatening or treatable.
There are medications out there that can be prescribed to lessen the feeling in your chest, like blood pressure medicine. But with any medication comes side affects. I would suggest not going down that rabbit hole unless your Doc feels it’s medically necessary. Like I said before, they don’t make a pill to cure PVC’s. It’s all up to you, in the long run if you are not doing some of these things already you will be healthier for starting.