When to be concerned about arrhythmia?

I’ve noticed a recurring arrhythmia within the past couple weeks. I didn’t know if it was something I should worry about, or no big deal (I have read that most arrhythmias are no big deal). My caffeine, sodium, caloric, etc intakes have not changed at all. I haven’t changed my eating or exercise habits. There is nothing more stressful in my life than usual within the past couple of weeks. The only recent change in my life was that I quit smoking at the end of September, which I would think should have improved my odds against heart issues. :confused:

I started tracking it today because I expected it to go away, but it hasn’t. I’m not sure if my heart is skipping a beat, or gaining a beat, or just fluttering. It feels like it’s a bigger heartbeat than usual, and it’s timed poorly, but goes back to normal right away after one or two “off beats.” Since I started tracking them this morning, I’ve had a total of 25 “episodes” today. I would classify 16 of those as small/minor, but still noticeable. My first one was at 1132am, the last one happened at 605pm (I woke up at 1030 and got to work shortly before 1130, and it’s currently 615pm).

Should I be worried about this? I don’t have a primary physician right now, although I do have health insurance. I would need to get a primary doctor. I really hate doctors and my copays are expensive (plus I’m only 27), which is why I’m asking the dope first. I realize that you are not a doctor/you are not my doctor, this advice is worth what I paid for it, and I promise not to sue anybody if I have a heart attack tomorrow.

I know that high consumption of caffeine is linked to arrhythmia, but I don’t want to quit caffeine because of the headache/migraine issues. If arrhythmia is just something I have to live with as a result of my Pepsi/tea consumption, I can learn to cope with that. It’s just that 25 seems like a high number of episodes in only 7.5 hours, and I didn’t know if that on its own was a cause for concern. I’m pretty sure that tracking it has not caused the number of incidents to increase; I do feel like this is about how many I’ve been having every day. I’m willing to share medical history if that is necessary, but the OP is already long enough!

Is it two strong beats, separated by a missing beat? I’ve had that for years and years. It started out to be benign, but lately has been symptomatic of a problem that will need surgery.

But you cannot diagnose your problem by asking other people about their experiences. See a doctor.

I too hate going to the doctor. I will if it’s an extreme immediate emergency. I’ve also been a compulsive exerciser all my adult life. Heart related issues have occurred through the years for what I believe are various reasons. While in my early 30’s and running 120 miles a week and taking something called dolomite, I began to experience chest pain on some runs. At the time there was an issue with contamination of that product. When I stopped taking it, the pain went away. I have had frequent occasions of missed beats, maybe 3-4 missing beats per minute. As I understand it, those are not missed beats as much as failed rhythms of the heart muscle. When a couple misses occur consecutively, I feel a shortness of breath. Two years ago I had severe chest pain over the heart that doubled me over and put me on the floor for a few minutes. I thought a heart attack had happened. It went away in minutes. This has happened several times, but not in the last year.

So a lot of things come and go. A person could go for endless tests and perhaps be on a constant drug regimen. People actually die in the hospital from causes other than what they went in for. I have truly been lucky to exist this long by avoiding doctors. Even at only 27 you may not be as lucky. With symptoms as apparent and bothersome as you have, my advice is to find a primary care doctor and get an opinion. Remember, you are the one in charge. You don’t have to agree to any exotic tests anybody recommends. Most tests related to the heart are not too invasive or time consuming. A simple EKG or heart monitor might reveal something useful.

Thank you for reading my epistle.

Al, I can understand your concern based on your history. But I don’t have pain or shortness of breath with any of these episodes, nor are they correlated with medication. I don’t take medication for anything, just OTC ibuprofen, benadryl, and TUMS as needed.

Despite being young, you have a bad family health history as well as some personal risk factors for heart issues, and you haven’t been going to the doctor regularly for a long time, right?

I would get checked out ASAP if I were you. It’s hardly unheard of for people in their 20s and 30s to have serious (even fatal) heart problems. Good luck, I hope it’s temporary and not serious.

PCOS is my only existing diagnosed condition, but I don’t think that is related to any sort of heart-y issues. I will get reactively hyp if I eat too much sugar or too many potatoes, but I’ve been managing that just fine by eating fewer potatoes, less sugar, and more protein (I don’t have a big sweet tooth anyway, no big deal). So you could say I’m “pre-diabetic.”

As far as risk factors, everyone in my family (including me), with the exception of a couple of cousins who married in, is obese. But heart problems aren’t endemic at all. My family tends to have diabetes and complications from smoking (neither of which apply to me). The only cardiac history at all is my maternal grandma, who had a triple bypass around age 58 (and even then, she didn’t develop any cardiac problems until her mid 50s, and she got a huge settlement from the makers of fen-phen). My mom and dad are still alive and don’t have any cardiac issues, and my other 3 grandparents died without developing any cardiac issues (one died of esophageal cancer at 72, one from emphysema at 65, one from a stroke after a blood clot traveled from his fractured tibia to his brain in his early 60s). So I don’t believe I’m at huge risk.

Of course, I realize it’s always possible for a random person to develop something freakish. And maybe if 2 of my grandparents had lived longer, they’d have developed something heart-related. Nothing is impossible. But my grandma believed her heart issues all came from taking fen-phen. If she hadn’t, maybe she wouldn’t have had any issues at all. So, I do not believe I am at risk for cardiac issues based on personal health or family history.

Sounds like PVCs.
They are frequently benign, but can indicate real problems. When was the last time you had an EKG or stress test done?

BTW, I get them and have for years. They don’t seem to be any concern to my cardiologist.

I get get this, and have had this for a number of years. It has, on occasion, sent me in to a panic attack, but that hasn’t happened in a couple of years now.

In retrospect, I get them mostly when I am under stress. Now, at the time, I think ‘I’m not under stress right now, nothing has changed’, but a few months later, after it’s gone away and I start contemplating the month of episodes I was having, I realize something HAS changed. Be it an increased workload, working on getting into a Masters program, my grandmother’s health issues, or just a change in my schedule that causes me to feel more rushed, I can always point to some sort of stressor. It also happens if someone I care about is stressed about something. For instance, if my husband is doing his ice diving certification, or if my sister is having a difficult pregnancy.

Are you SURE you’re not stressed about something? Are you missing smoking, maybe? Having cravings?

But yeah, I also agree with going to the doctor. I did it and had an EKG done. Everything came back normal and that helped (by reducing my stress about my arrhythmia, probably).

Interesting. I started having weird heart episodes not too long before I quit smoking and was shocked to find myself having them afterwards too. They were actually happening mostly when I was in bed. I never felt any pain or fatigue from them and had been exercising regularly well before and straight through the time I was experiencing them.

They felt like someone had just told me some awful news and my heart “sank.”

I’m also obese and have PCOS. I’ve never brought it up with any doctor but I’ve been to several doctor appointments since I started having them and even had surgery and no one has mentioned any problems with my heart.

That being said…if I hadn’t been to so many doctor appointments in that time I think I would have definitely made an appointment after a while. Let’s face it - when you’re fat, you gotta worry about your heart even if you feel ok.

I don’t remember the last time I had an episode but I know they keep happening (infrequently). I think quitting smoking is a big enough shock to your system to consider it “a change in health.” Go get it checked out.

Honestly, I think anyone who would try to diagnose what’s wrong with you over the internet would be very reckless and not someone you’d want to listen to. Nobody on here can tell you just based on the symptoms if it is harmless or not since none of us have any idea about what your EKG looks like while these symptoms are occurring. That’s why I think it’d be worth going to a doctor to at least have an EKG checked. If the doc thinks it warrants further investigation, they might also recommend wearing a Holter monitor.

If it IS a dangerous arrhythmia, there is a risk of sudden death. Not a heart attack, but just dropping dead. That’s why I would not recommend just waiting to see if it goes away on its own.