Afib & PVC's

Posted by Larry @crashnam, Jul 30, 2017

Have been experiencing heart flutters, jumping, hesitating, pulsating, flopping, twitching, thumping, quivering sensations (you name it, I’ve felt it), for 40 years. Have lived with it since being told 35 years ago that’s what I had to do. Over this period I had a couple of instances where my heart would start racing but only for a few seconds. Well, four years ago I was sitting at my desk at work one night and the racing kicked in, but this time it lasted for 14 hours. Since then, the AFIB incidents slowly got more frequent and so did all the flutters, jumping, hesitating, etc. to the point they were more alarming. I do have a cardiologist that I’ve been seeing for about 3 years now. Put me on metropolol tartrate then switched to metropolol succinate, anywhere from 50-100 milligrams a day. Don’t know if it has really helped or not. Also taking Vitamin C, D, Magnesium and baby aspirin. Have been prescribed blood thinners the last couple of years as well as dilitizem but have been afraid to take any of it. When in AFIB, my heart beats very hard at between 175-200 beats a minute. Have had several holter meters, echocardiograms, stress test over the last few years but everything appears to be normal. The holter meters did record hundreds of skips and other bothersome beating each day, and one time recorded 8,000 over a two-day period. On two occasions since April, 2017, I went into AFIB for several hours then, of course it always stops on its own. But, these two times it remained with me like aftershocks going in and out of AFIB numerous times over a two or three day period after the initial AFIB incident. Heart will feel very strange going in and out of these numerous incidents and makes me a little light headed. Feels like the heart is just rumbling around not knowing what to do. Very scary. Ablation has been talked about in the past and when I am at my worst I really start considering it. I do try and get through this all over the years by pushing myself and deciding I’m just going to live my life the best I can. I am still a smoker, drink black coffee and drink beer maybe 3 or 4 a week. Been told however to cut down on all of it. But I am stubborn. Any suggestions or comments would be welcome.

@crashnam

Hi, thank you for getting back to me. Just being cautious about the diltiazem. After experiencing so many whacky palps and sensations with my heart for the past 40 years, and now off and on afib along with them, I am afraid that the diltiazem may interrupt the natural course of the afib stopping on its own, and/or creating more problems with all the other palps. Palps on their own can be very scary, let alone have afib episodes two or three times a month. My cardiologists tell me that the diltiazem will help cut down on the different arrhythmias but with so many different types of arrhythmias, that’s what scares me. I will however be trying it shortly to see how I react. I am a 67 year old Vietnam Vet with a lot of life left in me, so I am being very cautious while suffering at the same time. Get back to me when you can. Thank you very much.

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Dear Larry @crashnam,

I know what you’re going through.
I’ve had tachycardia, (Supraventricular tachycardia) ever since I can remember – nothing compared to Afib or PVC – but I can imagine how debilitating your episodes must be!
I didn’t want to take beta blockers, as I felt they “slowed me down” considerably, and I didn’t want to undergo any procedures. What I did notice was that my stress and angst about having a heart condition would trigger stronger, more frequent episodes (220 bpm). But how can you not worry about your heart!!

Larry, I truly believe that by reaching out for support, by recognizing and trying to cope with your condition as best as you can, you’ve already made tremendous progress. You have overcome a significant obstacle – being open, sharing your story, your worries, listening to others, but most of all, being patient with yourself, is not an easy thing to do. You’ve made the journey from ignorance to understanding.

I know you’re hesitant to take certain medications, or to undergo an ablation; have you considered being evaluated at a heart rhythm clinic or center? If you wish, do take a look at the two stories below; you are not alone.

– Treatment to Slow a Quick Heartbeat Returns Jim Davis to His Fast-Paced Life https://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2016/06/15/treatment-to-slow-a-quick-heartbeat-returns-jim-davis-to-his-fast-paced-life/
– Teacher Smelling the Roses Again Thanks to Minimally Invasive Heart Procedures https://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2016/05/19/teacher-smelling-the-roses-again-thanks-to-minimally-invasive-heart-procedures/

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@crashnam

Hi, thank you for getting back to me. Just being cautious about the diltiazem. After experiencing so many whacky palps and sensations with my heart for the past 40 years, and now off and on afib along with them, I am afraid that the diltiazem may interrupt the natural course of the afib stopping on its own, and/or creating more problems with all the other palps. Palps on their own can be very scary, let alone have afib episodes two or three times a month. My cardiologists tell me that the diltiazem will help cut down on the different arrhythmias but with so many different types of arrhythmias, that’s what scares me. I will however be trying it shortly to see how I react. I am a 67 year old Vietnam Vet with a lot of life left in me, so I am being very cautious while suffering at the same time. Get back to me when you can. Thank you very much.

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Hey Larry, you’ e mentioned that you have kept yourself active and pretty fit. What has been your program for that? I’m 73 with Afib and have been wondering about how hard to push myself in uphill walking.

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@crashnam

Hi, thank you for getting back to me. Just being cautious about the diltiazem. After experiencing so many whacky palps and sensations with my heart for the past 40 years, and now off and on afib along with them, I am afraid that the diltiazem may interrupt the natural course of the afib stopping on its own, and/or creating more problems with all the other palps. Palps on their own can be very scary, let alone have afib episodes two or three times a month. My cardiologists tell me that the diltiazem will help cut down on the different arrhythmias but with so many different types of arrhythmias, that’s what scares me. I will however be trying it shortly to see how I react. I am a 67 year old Vietnam Vet with a lot of life left in me, so I am being very cautious while suffering at the same time. Get back to me when you can. Thank you very much.

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Hey there. Actually I have probably abused my body. Have smoked for 50 years, I still drink a couple big cups of black coffee a day. I was a beer drinker in Vietnam (stayed away from ALL drugs). I am a social drinker as well. Family get togethers, when bowling, playing horseshoes, holidays, etc. Don’t like drinking by myself at home. So, I am probably a below average drinker. Anyway, my last job was a sports writer (for 13 years), but was let go due to budget cuts four years ago. Tried looking for work, but kind of gave up when I began having more heart issues. So now I’m basically at home just doing normal activities (garden, taking care of our cats, etc.). Up until this past August I could basically do anything I wanted, then I began feeling more PVC’s etc. during light to mild physical exertion. AFIB has improved (less frequency), but PVC’s have increased slightly and more alarming sometimes. Dr’s. still say my heart is okay, but they don’t feel the sensations. Even on the ekg’s and holter monitors can show the PVC’s but they can’t interpret the feelings from them.

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@crashnam

Hi, thank you for getting back to me. Just being cautious about the diltiazem. After experiencing so many whacky palps and sensations with my heart for the past 40 years, and now off and on afib along with them, I am afraid that the diltiazem may interrupt the natural course of the afib stopping on its own, and/or creating more problems with all the other palps. Palps on their own can be very scary, let alone have afib episodes two or three times a month. My cardiologists tell me that the diltiazem will help cut down on the different arrhythmias but with so many different types of arrhythmias, that’s what scares me. I will however be trying it shortly to see how I react. I am a 67 year old Vietnam Vet with a lot of life left in me, so I am being very cautious while suffering at the same time. Get back to me when you can. Thank you very much.

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Hi There. I’ve read stories similar to the ones you referred me to. My AFIB is always around 200 when it occurs, lasting 4-12 hours. When It would stop I would feel great sometimes for several days, but I would still have the PVC’s. Have had several holter monitors anywhere from the one day to the 30 day. Sometimes register a tolerable amount of PVC’s and other times several thousand a day. No set pattern. I now feel PVC’s in upper chest more, as well as upper stomach (which I had not had before). Heart will just flounder around like it doesn’t know what it wants to do sometimes with the skips, flutters, pauses and sometimes a squeezing or choking off sensation. Sometimes it’s like a hair trigger with the slightest movement triggering skips and flutters. Also, in between AFIB incidents I will get an occasional 10 or 15 second AFIB sensation where I think it is going to kick in and start racing but then lets up. I often wonder if some of the more urgent palps and PVC’s are the result of the AFIB wanting to kick in, but fails to do so. I read that ablation is good for PVC’s only if you have 20% or higher each day. I am still considering ablation for the AFIB in hopes that it may at the same time relieve some of the other palp symptoms, and may even be causing them. For me, the palps and irregular heartbeats feel worse than the AFIB. There are times when I wish I was on the “table” and tell the doctors to just do what they have to do. And, I still worry of course that something is being missed in my evalations. Thanks for your information and concern.

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Hi Colleen. No, don’t have any friends, and my wife is never really too concerned. That’s just the way it is. I’m kind of a loner anyway when it comes to health issues. Like to deal with them myself and not bother other people. I still feel there is a key to all this that I have to find and open the door to feeling better. Whether it be an ablation or some underlying cause that the Doctors haven’t pinpointed. I really thought I was getting away with something having PVC’s for 40 years and being able to reasonably tolerate them, but when intermittent AFIB and more alarming PVC’s started four years ago, I knew I was in trouble but I just kept plugging away. My recent Nuke stress test was apparently okay, reaching a target of 130 bpm. Discussed results with cardiologist and he said that it’s not always 100% conclusive for blockages. Still feel something is being missed. Still considering an ablation for the intermittent AFIB which actually bothers less than the PVC’s. But, maybe what is causing the AFIB may be related to some of the other irregular heartbeats.

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Your symptoms sound distressing at the very least… here is what I think I know, RN with husband in and out of afib for 10 years, electrically cardioverted about 7 times successfully. He finally had an ablation 15 months ago and was one of the few who have an awful experience. Quite low risk but they burned a hole in his atrium, he bled into his pericardium (sac around heart) and needed urgent tap for a quart of blood in the sac.

Anyway, after a year of unstable pulse rate but mostly in normal rhythm, his heart seems to be healing and he can exercise again. He is on Tikosyn, an antiarrythmic drug with scary side effects, and on blood thinner Xaralto. There is now an antidote for Xaralto and it is much easier to deal with than coumadin, but that is individual decision.

So anticoagulants and afib- the risk of a stroke with someone going in and out of afib is significant, look it up on the internet. Every cardiologist has really pushed for anticoagulants more than aspirin, although that certainly provides some protection against clots.

Ablation the first time is about 50/50 successful, many people try it but don’t be fooled into thinking it is a minor procedure. They work inside a beating heart, burn a group of places where atrial fib can start, then wait for scar tissue to form to see if it worked. When it works I have heard wonderful results, but many have more than one procedure and it does have risks such as my husband had. Get a couple of opinions.

If you can possibly prevent afib by figuring out your “triggers”, I would sure try that first. For some people it is alcohol, one friend can’t have a single beer without going into afib. Ditto for smoking, and I don’t know about caffeine. No one wants to change lifestyle but afib at 200 rate is not any fun either.

Finally, another friend is going to Houston for Dr. Wolf to do a Wolf Minimaze, newer than ablation but claims a success rate of over 70%, worth some research. And as my husband and other afib patients say, “I want my life back” but that is not how medical issues work, no amount of wishing can change things. My best wishes to you in your decisions. Linda Libby RN VT

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@vermontrob

Your symptoms sound distressing at the very least… here is what I think I know, RN with husband in and out of afib for 10 years, electrically cardioverted about 7 times successfully. He finally had an ablation 15 months ago and was one of the few who have an awful experience. Quite low risk but they burned a hole in his atrium, he bled into his pericardium (sac around heart) and needed urgent tap for a quart of blood in the sac.

Anyway, after a year of unstable pulse rate but mostly in normal rhythm, his heart seems to be healing and he can exercise again. He is on Tikosyn, an antiarrythmic drug with scary side effects, and on blood thinner Xaralto. There is now an antidote for Xaralto and it is much easier to deal with than coumadin, but that is individual decision.

So anticoagulants and afib- the risk of a stroke with someone going in and out of afib is significant, look it up on the internet. Every cardiologist has really pushed for anticoagulants more than aspirin, although that certainly provides some protection against clots.

Ablation the first time is about 50/50 successful, many people try it but don’t be fooled into thinking it is a minor procedure. They work inside a beating heart, burn a group of places where atrial fib can start, then wait for scar tissue to form to see if it worked. When it works I have heard wonderful results, but many have more than one procedure and it does have risks such as my husband had. Get a couple of opinions.

If you can possibly prevent afib by figuring out your “triggers”, I would sure try that first. For some people it is alcohol, one friend can’t have a single beer without going into afib. Ditto for smoking, and I don’t know about caffeine. No one wants to change lifestyle but afib at 200 rate is not any fun either.

Finally, another friend is going to Houston for Dr. Wolf to do a Wolf Minimaze, newer than ablation but claims a success rate of over 70%, worth some research. And as my husband and other afib patients say, “I want my life back” but that is not how medical issues work, no amount of wishing can change things. My best wishes to you in your decisions. Linda Libby RN VT

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Hi Linda. Thanks for the scary advice. Just kidding. Have read up on ablations and realize there are risks. Still hesitant anyway. AFIB actually not as bad as it was (less events). Once a month on average the last 5 months. It’s the heart floundering around (all kinds of whacky beats, pauses, etc.) in between that bothers me much more anyway. Very uncomfortable. Can feel fine one minute and then feel in distress the next. Used to have good days, now I have good hours. I need to find the willpower to stop smoking and drinking coffee for a few days to see if PVC’s will let up some. Then I would know that it might be part of the problem. Wish they had rehab for smoking and drinking coffee where I could go for 3 or four days. Not likely though. Have been prescribed Eliquis but have been afraid to take it since I have bleeding hemmerhoids on occasion. I do take the baby aspirin, but I would seriously like to try the Eliquis. Thanks for your advice and concern.

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@crashnam, I wanted to quickly jump in and tell you that we are so glad you are part of the Connect community. I’m certain that fellow members also appreciate the insightful thoughts and comments you’ve posted, about your health. In fact, I just found this journal publication which, in my opinion, relates closely to your questions /concerns about treatment options for premature ventricular complexes (PVCs): https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/849502

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@vermontrob

Your symptoms sound distressing at the very least… here is what I think I know, RN with husband in and out of afib for 10 years, electrically cardioverted about 7 times successfully. He finally had an ablation 15 months ago and was one of the few who have an awful experience. Quite low risk but they burned a hole in his atrium, he bled into his pericardium (sac around heart) and needed urgent tap for a quart of blood in the sac.

Anyway, after a year of unstable pulse rate but mostly in normal rhythm, his heart seems to be healing and he can exercise again. He is on Tikosyn, an antiarrythmic drug with scary side effects, and on blood thinner Xaralto. There is now an antidote for Xaralto and it is much easier to deal with than coumadin, but that is individual decision.

So anticoagulants and afib- the risk of a stroke with someone going in and out of afib is significant, look it up on the internet. Every cardiologist has really pushed for anticoagulants more than aspirin, although that certainly provides some protection against clots.

Ablation the first time is about 50/50 successful, many people try it but don’t be fooled into thinking it is a minor procedure. They work inside a beating heart, burn a group of places where atrial fib can start, then wait for scar tissue to form to see if it worked. When it works I have heard wonderful results, but many have more than one procedure and it does have risks such as my husband had. Get a couple of opinions.

If you can possibly prevent afib by figuring out your “triggers”, I would sure try that first. For some people it is alcohol, one friend can’t have a single beer without going into afib. Ditto for smoking, and I don’t know about caffeine. No one wants to change lifestyle but afib at 200 rate is not any fun either.

Finally, another friend is going to Houston for Dr. Wolf to do a Wolf Minimaze, newer than ablation but claims a success rate of over 70%, worth some research. And as my husband and other afib patients say, “I want my life back” but that is not how medical issues work, no amount of wishing can change things. My best wishes to you in your decisions. Linda Libby RN VT

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Larry, thanks for the update. I take Eliquis and have had no negative reactions. But note that I don’t have a PVC issue. My Gp and cardiologist both argued that given that I have had a few long lasting Afib episodes they want me to have some more protection against clotting than aspirin gives.
Re the sensations you have.
I can understand that medicos might not pay sufficient attention to feelings. I suspect this is because we find it hard to give them specific, precise descriptions.
What about making some notes each time you have these feelings. Write down the date, where the feeing is, the sensation it gives, the time it lasts. Then takes these notes to your next appointments. Give them to both GP and cardiologist.
Cheers

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@vermontrob

Your symptoms sound distressing at the very least… here is what I think I know, RN with husband in and out of afib for 10 years, electrically cardioverted about 7 times successfully. He finally had an ablation 15 months ago and was one of the few who have an awful experience. Quite low risk but they burned a hole in his atrium, he bled into his pericardium (sac around heart) and needed urgent tap for a quart of blood in the sac.

Anyway, after a year of unstable pulse rate but mostly in normal rhythm, his heart seems to be healing and he can exercise again. He is on Tikosyn, an antiarrythmic drug with scary side effects, and on blood thinner Xaralto. There is now an antidote for Xaralto and it is much easier to deal with than coumadin, but that is individual decision.

So anticoagulants and afib- the risk of a stroke with someone going in and out of afib is significant, look it up on the internet. Every cardiologist has really pushed for anticoagulants more than aspirin, although that certainly provides some protection against clots.

Ablation the first time is about 50/50 successful, many people try it but don’t be fooled into thinking it is a minor procedure. They work inside a beating heart, burn a group of places where atrial fib can start, then wait for scar tissue to form to see if it worked. When it works I have heard wonderful results, but many have more than one procedure and it does have risks such as my husband had. Get a couple of opinions.

If you can possibly prevent afib by figuring out your “triggers”, I would sure try that first. For some people it is alcohol, one friend can’t have a single beer without going into afib. Ditto for smoking, and I don’t know about caffeine. No one wants to change lifestyle but afib at 200 rate is not any fun either.

Finally, another friend is going to Houston for Dr. Wolf to do a Wolf Minimaze, newer than ablation but claims a success rate of over 70%, worth some research. And as my husband and other afib patients say, “I want my life back” but that is not how medical issues work, no amount of wishing can change things. My best wishes to you in your decisions. Linda Libby RN VT

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Yeah, I do make notes with symptoms. Never does any good. It’s like the doctors have heard it all before. I have read thousands of testimonials from people with all kinds of heart conditions and sensations, and I still think I am unique. Try to describe to doctors the best I can the sensations hoping it will hit on something, but doesn’t seem to.

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Could someone please explain the differences with A Fib, PVC’s and Tachycardia.

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@kanaazpereira

@crashnam, I wanted to quickly jump in and tell you that we are so glad you are part of the Connect community. I’m certain that fellow members also appreciate the insightful thoughts and comments you’ve posted, about your health. In fact, I just found this journal publication which, in my opinion, relates closely to your questions /concerns about treatment options for premature ventricular complexes (PVCs): https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/849502

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Thank you. If you’re interested, I have had ringing in both ears since I came back from Vietnam in 1970. A piercing ringing, clicking, clanking, sputtering (like a pressure cooker), 24-7. I have had diverticulitis for over 35 years with tons of infections and excruciating pain. In 1988, I was lying on living room floor talking on the phone when I started getting slow moving muscle twitches and flutterings in both legs for no apparent reason. Still have them, and I will also get muscle flutters in chest and arms. Sometimes wonder if these muscle problems affect the heart at all. Have had two tests done (electric shock), over the years and nothing conclusive was found. Hated the tests, very painful. Three episodes of Sciatica the last ten years with throbbing toothache type pain from lower back, down the right leg into the foot. Impossible to sleep. And four or five episodes of Vertigo the last five years. Mine is unique. Everything jiggles back and forth instead of going around in circles. One instance of full blown lyme disease, which was horrifying. Was in third stage before I went to the doctor. Anyway, many times, over the years, I would be suffering with a diverticulitis infection, heart going crazy, ears ringing of course, muscles twitching, all while at work and at home. Not a lot of fun. But through it all I have tried to live my life normally. Stay active now as best I can. I’ll check out the web site you mentioned.

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@kibwezi

Could someone please explain the differences with A Fib, PVC’s and Tachycardia.

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Afib- normally there is one place in the right upper chamber (atrium) that “controls” the heart rate- it fires an electrical charge that is then transmitted through the upper chambers,, causing them to contract and squeeze blood (the lub in lub dub of the heart beat). the signal then passes through a spot between the upper chambers and lower chambers, then goes through the electrical system of the ventricles, causing them to contract and squeeze blood- the dub in lub dub. Result is blood being squeezed through the heart and around the body to get oxygen and nourish the body organs.

In atrial fibrillation, the electrical system goes a bit haywire, and multiple places in the upper chambers fire off in a chaotic rhythm, causing the heart to beat in an irregular and less efficient manner. See Web MD or other online sites for pictures of this.

Tachycardia is just a term for a heart rate over 100 beats per minute, it can be normal, from exercising, or abnormal for a lot of reasons.

And PVC is Premature Ventricular Contractions, or the squeezing of the lower chambers that is not happening when it should in the heart beat cycle. PVCs are very common, not dangerous unless associated with a heart attack or some other conditions. Some people feel them (“palpitations”) and some don’t.

Hope this helps, and if anyone has corrections, fire away 🙂

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@kibwezi

Could someone please explain the differences with A Fib, PVC’s and Tachycardia.

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Thank you very much for this info. I have been diagnosed with A fib and I had thought that meant any irregular heart beat. I thought that meant fast, slow, skipping beats, fluttering, etc. I thought that Tachycardia was pretty much the same thing. THe PVC’s confused me the most. Sometimes my pulse rate is normal but my heart feels like it is jumping, fluttering, thumping, etc. just like described earlier in the start of this page. Would that be PVC’s?

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Hello Larry @crashnam

Your post about your post-Viet Nam health problems is interesting. Have you taken the opportunity to read the posts regarding Agent Orange Exposure? If not, here is that link, https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/ and https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp.

Also, here is a Mayo Connect discussion on health problems related to AO exposure, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/agent-orangedioxin-related-illnesses/

Teresa

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