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New here, PVCs and bigeminy
Hi all. I'm new to this board, but have been getting very worried lately. I'm a 53 yo female. Back in May, I had what I thought might have been a heart attack. I am a social worker that travels to clients homes and that particular day I was in the middle of the nowhere. I had taken what appeared to be a short cut and GPS called it "road". While on this road, I began to feel a tightness in my chest, just uncomfortable. I thought it was strange that my bra was getting tight and tried to readjust it, but that didn't help any. Then I got a bad pain in my back, between my shoulder blades. The pain then was in my neck on the right side, in my jaw, and down into my right arm. I called the office and asked them to look up heart attack symptoms in women, and described what I was experiencing. They said it sounded like what they were reading and asked if I wanted them to call an ambulance. Since I was in the middle of nowhere and had no clue how to tell anyone how to find me, I told them I'd drive to the next main road, see how I felt then, and would call them back. About 20 minutes later, it was over and I was feeling alright. So, I went on home.
Ever since then, I've been getting frequent PVCs on a daily basis. I've gone to the ER 3 times due to chest pains and shortness of breath. I have a history of DVTs (deep vein thrombosis) and PEs (pulmonary embolisms) since the age of 17 and I just don't play around with chest pain and shortness of breath. In July, I had lost vision suddenly in my left eye for less than a minute. It happened again, twice in August (one time it lasted for almost 20 minutes), and then again in September. I had went to minor care and mentioned the loss of vision in passing and the doctor stated he thought I was having TIAs.
Thanksgiving day I noticed I was having many more PVCs than usual - it seemed every other beat was a "skipped beat" and then when we sat down to eat, I had gotten some chest pain on my left side. (I don't have health insurance currently, so am always leery about going to the ER or to a doctor because it's too much to pay out of pocket.) I was out of town, but my sister and ex-mother-in-law talked me into going to the ER. They admitted me to run a bunch of tests. I had an MRI of my brain, CT scan of my lungs, and an echocardiogram with a bubble study. Everything came back normal, with the exception of a 4.4 mm lung nodule in the right upper lobe of my lung, which the CT scan picked up. This could be just scar tissue from previous pulmonary embolism.)
Doc said I am having PVCs with evidence of bigeminy. They slowed down after that day, but I'm noticing them again now. I know that PVCs are supposed to be benign and I have had them off and on all my life (but usually just one here and there). I have low blood pressure with vasovagal syncope, also possibly due to poor circulation related to the numerous blood clots I've had.
I've read that, while they are benign, having too many PVCs can lead to heart disease or an enlarged heart. What would be considered too many? What should I be looking for? Should I be concerned? I don't tend to have anxiety, but am experiencing that with these PVCs. It just doesn't feel right when I feel that fluttering in my chest all the time.
AmbassadorDN, November 28, 2018 4:52pm EST
You've come to the right place! Like you, I also have PVCs. However, mine stem from a congenital heart defect as well as 3.5 heart surgeries (the latter of which have caused scar tissue to form and interrupt my heart rhythm). I see an electrophysiologist, or EP doctor, who specializes in heart rhythm disorders. First, I advise you to seek out an EP in your area who can probably order you a Holter monitor which will check your heart rhythm over a designated period of time and then decide the best course of treatment for you. Question: Are you on a beta-blocker to treat the PVCs currently?
Still, PVCs are largely benign; however, according to my EP, too many can lead to heart failure. Her estimation is that if a person's total irregular heart rhythm takes up about 10% or more a day, the rhythm can become dangerous. Meanwhile, here is a link to cardiac arrhythmias: https://www.umcvc.org/conditions-treatments/premature-ventricular-contractions-pvcs-and-premature
I can empathize with you about how annoying PVCs are, but with the proper treatment and the right EP, you can manage your heart rhythm and mitigate the potential problems that can come with it.
Please keep us updated and let us know if you have any other questions or concerns. We are all here for you!
To Heart and Soul Health,
benni1028, November 29, 2018 8:59am EST
Thank you for the welcome, Ambassador DN. I'm sorry to hear that you've gone through so much with your heart. I guess I'm concerned because this came up out of nowhere, and hasn't let up in several months. It just seems to be getting worse. I appreciate the advice about an EP, but right now I don't have health insurance. I'm trying to find a job to get insurance, or find an insurance plan that I can afford. Getting the coverage I need, at an affordable price, has been rather difficult.
And they really are annoying. Right now, my pulse has been all over the place, from 108 down to 89 (over the past 15 minutes), and my BP cuff is registering my pulse as "erratic". I can feel that fluttering in my chest and know it's been skipping the beat. I always jokingly tell my sister "I can't dance, I was born with two left feet," now I tell her, "I can't beat my heart, I was born with two left ventricles." She doesn't laugh at me, but I find it hilarious. The other thing I say is, "I have no rhythm, except the beating of my heart, and even it can't keep a rhythm."
I've lived with a life-threatening condition since I was 17 (the DVTs and PEs) and have doctors tell me that if I throw a large enough clot to my heart, lungs, or brain, I have 10 minutes left and there isn't anything they can do. But I'd rather face the demon I know (the blood clots) than the one I don't (this off-beat, out of kilter heart).