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Heart Palpitations and Anxiety during Exercise
I'm a 21 y/o F with no history of cardiac issues. At my work physical, the doctor heard a heart murmur and told me to get it checked out. I had so much anxiety about this even though the doctor did not think it was something to worry about. I ran track in high school and am a regular runner and had never had any issues in the past. Long story short, I did an echo and EKG, and in my first echo, the radiologist thought he saw a coarctation in my aorta, which made me freak out even more. The EKG was normal. I went to a cardiologist, he didn't think anything was wrong with me, could barely hear a murmur, and accounted the thought of a coarctation to an error in the picture. I was ordered another echo just to check. At the time the cardiologist was checking me, he noticed one side of my neck was larger than the other. He said it might be my thyroid. My second echo was read and came back that everything was normal. I went to my GP to get my thyroid checked out, was ordered an ultrasound, and the ultrasound report said I had 2 nodules, and 1 was highly suspicious of malignancy. Needless to say, I had many panic attacks about everything going on (and on top of all this, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and was enduring a long line of 5 surgeries). I had a biopsy and thankfully the nodule was benign, however after finding this out, my anxiety did not subside. I began having severe anxiety, which led to shortness of breath and heart palpitations. I tried to calm myself down and kept telling myself everything was okay, but I had increasing anxiety about the fact that I was having anxiety and about the physical symptoms I was having.
All this was about 7 months ago. Since then, I still am struggling with the anxiety, but it is not as severe. However, right now I am worried about the heart palpitations I have. I can go a week without having them, but the second I think about it or have anxiety over it, I begin having them. They are not too frequent and last a second at a time. I do not have any dizziness/fainting, they just simply feel like a thump in my chest. My main concern is the fact that I now have them when I am running. Should I stop exercising as intensely? Or is this just anxiety manifesting itself? I know it is probably nothing to be concerned about because this all started happening after I started getting anxiety/panic attacks, it is just all very worrisome to me.
AHAASAKatie, January 14, 2019 8:18am EST
Good morning, I am so sorry that you are struggling with this. Have you spoken to your doctor about anxiety? Even though you were evaluated and all were determined to be OK, you still experienced a traumatic series of events. If you would be open to it, a good therapist can help you work through this. I am also curious to see what our members share with you as well. Best Katie
TessC, January 15, 2019 11:44pm EST
I dont have the same issues as you, but I had the same anxiety and it took time for me to get over the anxiety. I had to educate myself about papitations and learn that people like me (and maybe you) become hyper aware of something that most people have throughout their day and lives. I learned that palpitaions, PVCs and etopic heartbeats are not dangerous to an otherwise healty heart. I also had an echo, EKG and even a 30 day event monitor-all showed I had a healthy heart with no structural issues or weaken heart muscle. I had to learn to remove the feelings that irregular heartbeats made me have, from any actual risk that such things pose. One doctor said the risk of getting in a car accident is higher than the risk of getting a heart attack from heart palpitations. I know reading such things won't necessarily help, but in time and with education from trustworthy sources like your doctors - you may be able to overcome the anxiety and the panic such things do to your psyche. It helped me to know that anxiety is a natural response to fear and was nothing to be ashamed of, but fear is something we can get rid of with education.
So it is good that you came here. Check out other sources online. Lots of people have been in your postion and have overcome their anxiety and have learned to once again enjoy living their lives to the fullest. Until then, maybe back off the intensity of your workout until your heart and mind become less sensitive to the palpitations. And of course do all the things you need to do that helps keep palpitations at bay-like drinking plenty of fluids, replacing lost electrolytes and getting plenty of rest, etc. Good luck!
DolphinWrite, February 7, 2019 2:06pm EST
Definitely, write your symptoms down and share with your doctor. Personally, I would continue exercising, but you might want to ask your doctor about this. Exercise, hobbies, and friends. Also, your only 21 with your whole life ahead. Just because of heredity, it doesn't mean you, and if you take care of yourself, you can have a great life. One more thing, and this might not apply to you. Negativity spreads. Positivity does too. Some people we'really around worry a lot, but thst's not really living. I hope the best. God bless.