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Palpitations or Anxiety?
I’ll start this off by saying I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Depression symptoms haven’t shown for quite some time, and anxiety has been reduced greatly. I will say I am overly stressed. I drink on the weekends, my diet could be better, but I don’t smoke, and I exercise daily.
I’ve been told by doctors on multiple occasions that I “might have a heart murmur” or palpitations. When I get any test done, it shows to be normal and healthy. But I’m also told I have a pretty slow heart rate, but they think it’s due to me being active. So nothing to worry about, right?
A few months ago I was told I suffered from a “mini stroke” - I don’t fully believe it. My symptoms included the entire right side of my body cramping and going numb, my eyelids shaking, chest pain, and my mouth drooped and it was difficult to speak. It could have been due to a really intense anxiety attack (which is what I feel what happened).
Ever since, I’ve had these ‘episodes’ where I am in bed about to fall asleep, and all of a sudden my heart starts pounding, skipping, and/or fluttering. It freaks me out. I could be watching my favorite show, not a care in the world, about to doze off, and it happens. Tonight as I’m typing this, my left arm has felt cramped and numbed and I feel nauseas - which are new symptoms to this.
I freak myself out if I’m having a heart attack or I’m going to die - which obviously makes the experience a lot worse and I get in this cycle.
I know the number one thing is to go see a doctor. But one, I don’t have money for it. Two, I don’t have time to go anyway.
Does anyone experience this? How do I know the difference between it being anxiety related and NOT a heart attack or something that will kill me (to ease my anxiety)?
AHAASAKatie, February 4, 2019 8:59am EST
Good morning, I can understand how confusing and scary this is. My suggestion is to work with the Patient Advocate Foundation or a similar organization to help you with the funding to see a cardiologist and a therapist. You have a right to know what is happening in your body and also to have skills for coping with the anxiety that comes with living with a heart condition or a suspected condition. The mini-stroke is also concerning as well, I know Transient Ischemic Attacks can be difficult to diagnose. I urge you to work through the financial concerns and find a good medical team who can help you. Please know that we are here to support and help you along the way. Best Katie
NurseTessa, February 4, 2019 2:29pm EST
A heart murmur is an extra sound produced by a structural abnormality in your heart. If you've had an echocardiogram (ultrasound) of your heart and it was normal, it is safe to assume this isn't the source of your troubles. Sometimes you can have a slight murmur, but the cause isn't significant enough to require treatment, so the doctor will tell you it's normal. Causes of heart murmurs in adults are usually heart valve related. Heart valves can get worse over time, so it's good to keep following up with your doctor. Keep in mind that until you have symptoms of a heart valve problem there is no need to have anything done to treat it.
Palpitations are usually cause by an electrical abnormality. These electrical disturbances are very common and don’t always require treatment. Some people are just much more sensitive to the feeling caused by the disturbance. Common causes of simple disturbances are dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water and your diet has enough magnesium, potassium and calcium.
It is very hard to truly tell the difference between physical and psychological of symptoms without having a good workup with your doctor. I would strongly urge you to have a full workup with a doctor you trust. Not only will this address any phyiscal concerns, it will set your mind at ease.
DolphinWrite, February 7, 2019 1:55pm EST
Hey. I would certainly see a doctor, writing down all your symptoms and concerns. From what you say, and from what I know, a stroke and possible heart attack is possible and stress/ anxiety can increase the likelihood. I was in denial too, believing my symptoms was only stress due to a stressful career, and I had a good family history. BUT. I had a heart attack. Had I listened to my symptoms, I could have had the growing blockages cleared without the heart attack, taking mess to keep the arteries cleared instead of the 11 pills taken during the day. I get the money thing. Find what insurance is available. Look online. Talk to people. Maybe medicare. But get it. Sounds like you need this. You don't want to wait too long. God bless.
tim514, February 28, 2019 8:03am EST
Sorry to hear all of this is happening to you. For what my opinion is worth, I would see a doctor and be tested asap. I ignored the signs and was driving down the road one day last year and passed out. Turns out 90% blockage in my heart. 2 stents later, a week in intensive care, a life vest and now a defibrillator (ICD). Change of diet, lifestyle, and now I feel fine.