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Frightened Beyond Belief - PCVs + NSVT
I'm new here. I'm 46, female, and I've never had heart problems. I exercise daily (running, paddleboarding, hiking, walking, etc) and eat a heatlhy diet most of the time. My doctors have always raved about how strong my heart is. All that changed a couple weeks ago when I went to the ER with heart palpitations. They picked up PCVs and periods of non-sustained ventircular contraction. They released me that night and told me to contact a caridlogist.
With no previous history of heart trouble and a mostly healthy family (dad has some hypertension), the doc wasn't too concerned but hooked me up to a Holter Monitor for 48 hours and had me schdule an ECHO Stress Test. I'm still waiting for the stress test appointment (the waiting is stress enough!), but the holter monitor came back with 3% PCVs and this statement...
"There were 8 episodes of wide complex ventricular tachycardia, primarily occurring during sleeping hours (01:45-03:05). The longest episode lasted 4 beats. The fastest episode had a maximum heart rate of 158 bpm."
How dangerous is this??
I ask because my paperwork from the ER says ventricular tachycardia can cause sudden cardiac death.
I'm scared to death (maybe not the best choice of words) that my heart is iterally just going to stop in the middle of the night. I still exercise at mostly my same exertion level (no problems) but I don't trust my body anymore. I can barely sleep. I'm afraid to eat anything "bad" (cheese, eggs, wine). I am in tears half the day (right now in fact) because I'm so scared.
Everything I read says PCVs are usually benign and my doc doesn't seem concerned, but that does nothing to alleviate any of this perpetual fear especially when there are reports saying VT is life threatening. I'm at my wits end. The lack of sleep is driving me nuts, I've sent a message to my doc's office, but I'm just wondering if anyone else out there has had this and lived to tell the tale.
Also, what's "normal" for PCVs. The literature makes it sound liek just one big thunk every now and then (which I do have), but when these things happen at night, it feels like they're lasting for 1,2,3 hours at a time. I've tried the vagus nerve "tricks" to stop them, but it doesn't do much good.
NewPacer73, September 12, 2019 5:47pm EST
Tam, I can tell you there will come a day when the worry lessens and you gain confidence you have great care. Heart stuff is worrisome because there is no real way to know exactly what's going on when we have symptoms. Took me months to have confidence in my pacemaker. For awhile, I thought some gadget the size of a wrist watch face was going to kick in and get my heart going for low heart rates and high heart rates and I wouldn't feel a thing? Sure, sure! smile So, when I felt strange I called into the pacemaker clinic with time and date of the strange feeling, they read the data I sent them from the monitor, and what do you know? There was an irregular heartbeat with no problem and it paced when it was supposed to pace (meaning it got my heart back to normal). I never felt a thing. Now, I finally have confidence this thing works. And it lasts 10 years, I hear. So, as a heart patient for over 15 years, I'm convinced cardiac care has come a long way and I'm fine. Also, I check the patient portal to read reports because often if they are okay, the cardiologist doesn't call, so I feel left in the dark. I use the portal to send in data like blood pressure and heart rate when I think something is up. It's a team effort for me. With that kind of monitoring, I finally feel like my heart is stabilized. Did you go to France? I sure hope so and you find a way to relax as much as possible, because if you have great communication with your cardiologist and maybe the pacemaker/electriphysiologist team, all questions get answered leaving no time for thinking up dangerous scenarios. You are going to be fine. We arrythmia people live long full lives these days. Cardiac care is amazing now. My friend with a total heart transplant did sky diving last weekend. Wow!
BoomBoomTam, September 12, 2019 10:43pm EST
Thanks again @ralaz ! I felt pretty stressed most of the day, but it's fading. Counting and breathing. Counting and breathing. :))
Ralaz, September 13, 2019 11:59am EST
New pacer 73,
You are right on! I agree, there does come a day when the concern lessens. Many people have ventricular tachycardia and don’t know it. They go on living normal lives with little or no symptoms.
Every time you notice yourself start to worry, redirect that focus To live every day to its fullest. Smile through it, and if you live this way you will have no regrets. Live your life fully!
BoomBoomTam, September 13, 2019 12:52pm EST
Thanks to both of you for all the reassuring words. There is definitely a sense of mistrust and betrayal right now regardning my heart, but I am coming to accept my new normal.
However, good news!!! The cardiologist was quick to get me my stress test results and it showed no problems (results below). I can already feel my blood pressure lowering a few points! I'm sure there will still be days where the worrying thoughts sneak in, but I have gotten better about not going into a near state of panic when I feel the PVCs. Last night I had a few big booms and simply got up, walked to the bathroom, then went back to bed and to sleep...that's progress for me since a couple weeks ago I would have been up half the night fretting and probably making them worse.
No, we haven't gone to France yet. We leave in October. That was also part of the push to get the tests done since I really wanted to get the results well before heading out. I think I'll pass on the skydiving though!!
Here are the results and comments from the doc...I think I might print this ot and frame it.
Comments from the Doctor's Office
Your stress test was normal. This is great news.
I think it would still be helpful to keep your follow up appointment with me so we might be able to review, in person, any questions you might have.
Hope you have a great weekend.
Paolo P. Gabriel, MD, FACC
· Normal left ventricular chamber size and wall thickness.
· Normal resting left ventricular systolic function, EF 65%.
· No echocardiographic findings diagnostic for ischemia at a diagnostic
exercise treadmill workload.
· No ECG findings diagnostic for ischemia at a diagnostic exercise
· Normal heart rate and blood pressure response to exercise.
· Excellent exercise tolerance.
· Overall, this study would be low risk for major adverse cardiac events.