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Author Topic: Worried About Heart!  (Read 1050 times)

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Offline snew13

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Worried About Heart!
« on: November 14, 2013, 03:28:05 PM »
Hello,
I'm a 23 year old male. I've had 2 EKGs done recently and both came out normal (one at the emergency room because I thought I had something terribly wrong with my heart). I have had sudden rushes of adrenaline, and have what seem to be spasms on my left side of my chest. Sometimes I also get a heart "sinking" feeling out of nowhere and it drives me insane. I'm OBSESSED with my heart though; I'm so terrified of sudden cardiac arrest and dying.

Some background about me: I've been struggling with anxiety for 2 years and when I was on Paxil, I didn't have any of those symptoms. I had to get off of Paxil because I was doing bad things and gaining weight on it. Since then, I've been eating healthier (lost all the weight; 25 lbs), doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and taking Xanax when I need it. I tend to sleep a full 8 hours every night but wake up every morning EXHAUSTED no matter what. I also suffer from IBS-related symptoms (constipation, diarrhea, bloating, unintentional weight loss). I've had EVERY symptom in the book too (muscle twitches, muscle vibrations, weak legs, brain fog, etc. etc.). I'm hoping this is just anxiety and not a heart condition?! I recently moved away from my house (in August) after 23 years living with my parents and resigned my two former jobs to take on my new, current full-time job. I'm a much more devoted Christian than ever before, since all of this started happening in 2011.

Does anyone have any thoughts or encouragement for me?
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Offline JenBNimble

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2013, 10:16:10 PM »
I'm a big-time heart worrier, so I definitely know what you're going through. I get palpitations, weird chest pains, and plenty of other symptoms. I can go for weeks without worrying, and then I'll have a flare-up and spend days obsessing about my heart, which is a miserable way to spend my time. Believe me, you aren't alone in these kinds of worries!
It sounds like you are doing a lot of good things to try to manage your anxiety. Hopefully your faith will help you as well - I've found that prayer and meditation can get me through some of the darker moments.
Best of luck to you!
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Offline skim50

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2013, 11:26:40 PM »
I have had, and still have every one of your symptoms... Except the IBS.
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Offline fearnot

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2013, 12:40:06 AM »
If your two EKGs came back normal, you don't have underlying heart disease, you've experienced your concerns to health professionals, and you know you're young, you need to find a way to accept that, yes, it is all just anxiety.

If you haven't looked up all the possible symptoms you can experience with anxiety that relate to your heart, my suggestion is to do it. Keep a list even. Part of the reason for that is that a new sensation you might feel is less likely to freak you out when you already know it's possible to experience it. You may drive yourself crazy otherwise or fall in the trap of a 'what if' loop.

Our heart is probably the scariest part of our body in terms of things going wrong. It's because we know what happens with a heart attack is often fatal, for instance. Definitely scarier than a stubbed pinky toe, right? Who ever died from that? So, what's going on is both physiological and psychological here. Physiological because heart palpitations occur, either as rapid heart beats or minor disturbances in your heart's rhythm, e.g 'flops' or 'skipping a beat'. Even without anxiety, those symptoms are common in normal, healthy individuals. I can tell you I get them every now and then too while experiencing no anxiety.

The issue is psychological in that you've turned your attention to your physical symptoms instead of learning to cope with a situation that is causing you distress. When you are so sensitised by anxiety, all it takes it is the tiniest sub-conscious trigger that we might not even realise happens, and not necessarily a huge freaking bus about to run us over.

Our brains tend to scan for danger and threat, and when nothing else seems wrong, that's when we notice our vital and important heart instead of pinky toes. So we think our heart is "pounding too hard" or "beating too fast". We immediately jump to conclusion of "yes! we've found the problem! There's nothing else wrong, it MUST be our heart that's the problem." Well, of course it's the problem when you've completely internalised the search for threats. Each time, learning to become hyper-vigilant, we get better and better (and lazier - our minds are great at cutting corners) at jumping to this conclusion. We even ignore that the solution may be as simple as just breathing slower.

How do you tackle this? Well, what you really want is to desensitise yourself of your fear about dying, which really is a normal and healthy fear to have until it starts creating blocks in your life. First off, don't underestimate or write-off the power of exercise. Doing it daily, such as walking helps to not only regulate your energy levels but it naturally decreases your heart rate (making it healthier, stronger) while also boosting 'feel-good' chemicals in your body that make you less anxious. Secondly, while it's scary that anxiety symptoms can resemble those of a heart attack, you want to learn resolve yourself and be OK with dying and/or having a heart attack. The physical symptoms highlighting your discomfort are just a psychological manifestation of your belief that you "can't handle it". But why couldn't you? What proof have you got that makes you certain of your own inability to handle the situation? The answer is something that'll have to come about through CBT or your own journey of learning.

Rest assured, your heart is strong (squeezing the equivalent of 100,000 tennis balls every day!), and you as a whole are stronger than your symptoms of anxiety.
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Online tinam7

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2013, 08:36:44 AM »
Heart issues have plagued my family along with damage to the vascular system resulting even in dementia. Plenty to worry about. Now I am up there in age but, guess what, I won't give an inch. Give in to nothing. Commune with my heart and arteries and veins and brain every day. Give my heart gentle exercise every day. Praise it every day. Love it every day.

Best is the oxygen I give it esp. during meditation. First it goes deep into the lungs, then to the heart which happily sends it everywhere. Disease or deterioration do not stand a chance. All carbon dioxide is forcefully expelled. New oxygen arrives.
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Offline fearnot

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2013, 11:07:36 PM »
Had a newbie delay, but my post is up there.
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Offline patmob

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2013, 08:39:19 AM »
Here is my encouragement - you note that you've become much a more devoted Christian - I also believe and when my HA gets the best of me I tell myself that I know God is watching over me and nothing happens without his will so it can't be a heart attack without his consent and without his consent it can't be a heart attack.  In other words, place it in God's hands and trust.

THAT BEING SAID - its not a license to sit on the couch eating bacon all day (I'd sign up for that religion any day - lol) but you need to do your part and exercise and eat right and do what the docs say but since that's all thats really under your control you need to have faith that the rest will or won't happen as its supposed to.
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Offline snew13

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2013, 09:37:39 AM »
Thank you all. I've been exercising three or more times a week and eating very healthy (Paleo). I'm also seeing a Christian counselor and am going to see an OCD specialist. I also pray daily and go to church every week, sometimes meeting with my Pastor for guidance. I also am in a small men's group and am joining another young adult's group. I also call friends as much as possible to get support.
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Offline uno76

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2013, 02:43:03 AM »
I'm a big-time heart worrier, so I definitely know what you're going through. I get palpitations, weird chest pains, and plenty of other symptoms. I can go for weeks without worrying, and then I'll have a flare-up and spend days obsessing about my heart, which is a miserable way to spend my time. Believe me, you aren't alone in these kinds of worries!
It sounds like you are doing a lot of good things to try to manage your anxiety. Hopefully your faith will help you as well - I've found that prayer and meditation can get me through some of the darker moments.
Best of luck to you!

WOW this sounds like me. I am praying so hard to God. I have had a recent flare up and heart worries have started again. The physical symptoms aren't helping at all.
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Offline marc

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2013, 09:07:38 AM »
At 23 your chances of having heart disease are remote.
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Offline snew13

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2013, 09:57:03 AM »
Just got back from the doctor on Monday (he's a well respected and in-demand physician with a psych background). He checked everything on me and is going to give me a stress test (heart monitoring during light exercise) next month ONLY because it'll help put my mind at ease. He said that if I've had two normal EKGs, there should be nothing to worry about because those pick things up very well (I had one done through a specialty company and one done through a hospital emergency visit). He sees no need for anything else, as my health indicates that I have a healthy heart and am just experiencing high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the mornings. He prescribed me on Metropolol (a beta blocker which my Dad also takes) to help calm down my heart rate down and said to only take it when I need it. My blood tests were done in July and were all normal. I had a heart rate of 80 when I saw him (it went down once I got there...for me, going to the doctor calms me down because I feel like I'm "safe" with them) and my blood pressure was 127/80 (a tiny bit high but only because I was experiencing LOTS of anticipatory anxiety on the way there, I think). He said I could take the Xanax and Metropolol together if needed, just not to overdo it. He's also not worried about my becoming addicted to them (I'm not an addictive person). I brought him a list of symptoms when I came in and he said that usually when people do that, it's all anxiety (however, he still discussed them with me). He said to not keep focusing on my heart, otherwise the symptoms will show up more. The night I went to the doctor, I decided to go to a basic yoga class. My heart rate went down to 67 after it was all done with. I'm DEFINITELY going to another yoga class tonight! Yesterday, I challenged myself to not check my pulse/heart rate or touch/feel my heart beating from 7:50am (when I start work) to 5pm (when I usually leave work) and I succeeded! I did not have NEARLY as many symptoms as before. I think this is a good sign! I also had a performance to conduct last night (I'm a music teacher/choir director) and had bad, weak feeling anxiety and it all went away after we finished singing.
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Offline fearnot

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2013, 12:01:33 PM »
That's great news! Definitely stop checking your heart and do the yoga.. it's said to reduce anxiety symptoms itself by up to 40%. It also helps to train you on breathing, slowing your breath down as a counter to racy heartbeats.
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Offline uno76

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2013, 07:48:57 PM »
Just got back from the doctor on Monday (he's a well respected and in-demand physician with a psych background). He checked everything on me and is going to give me a stress test (heart monitoring during light exercise) next month ONLY because it'll help put my mind at ease. He said that if I've had two normal EKGs, there should be nothing to worry about because those pick things up very well (I had one done through a specialty company and one done through a hospital emergency visit). He sees no need for anything else, as my health indicates that I have a healthy heart and am just experiencing high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the mornings. He prescribed me on Metropolol (a beta blocker which my Dad also takes) to help calm down my heart rate down and said to only take it when I need it. My blood tests were done in July and were all normal. I had a heart rate of 80 when I saw him (it went down once I got there...for me, going to the doctor calms me down because I feel like I'm "safe" with them) and my blood pressure was 127/80 (a tiny bit high but only because I was experiencing LOTS of anticipatory anxiety on the way there, I think). He said I could take the Xanax and Metropolol together if needed, just not to overdo it. He's also not worried about my becoming addicted to them (I'm not an addictive person). I brought him a list of symptoms when I came in and he said that usually when people do that, it's all anxiety (however, he still discussed them with me). He said to not keep focusing on my heart, otherwise the symptoms will show up more. The night I went to the doctor, I decided to go to a basic yoga class. My heart rate went down to 67 after it was all done with. I'm DEFINITELY going to another yoga class tonight! Yesterday, I challenged myself to not check my pulse/heart rate or touch/feel my heart beating from 7:50am (when I start work) to 5pm (when I usually leave work) and I succeeded! I did not have NEARLY as many symptoms as before. I think this is a good sign! I also had a performance to conduct last night (I'm a music teacher/choir director) and had bad, weak feeling anxiety and it all went away after we finished singing.

This sounds similar to myself. I too, check my heart rate a lot when I am anxious. I keep my finger on my neck checking my pulse and it gets to be obsessive. It's hard not for me to check it when I am anxious and feeling my  pulse. I have also had lots of EKGs and all are always normal.I just had one at the ER few wks ago. I am like you,I wonder 'what if they missed something but I know they didn't because I've had numerous tests and EKGs.it's all in our head because it's just how anxiety does the body.my heart races so fast in the doctor's office most times. I am the opposite-I get anxious in medical facilities. I have been given Metoprolol also as well as Valium as needed. I had the beta blocker some years ago and it did work as far as slowing the pulse rate down.
Glad you are doing so much better.
I kinda want a stress test to assure myself,but too nervous to get one,fearing my heart rate will go too high and scare me. I am a mess..I know.
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Offline snew13

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2013, 11:54:39 AM »
Update: I had another EKG and chest x-Ray done. Everything was normal
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Offline snew13

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Re: Worried About Heart!
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2013, 07:51:47 AM »
I've been experiencing some guilt from all of this too. I had a few alcohol episodes where my hangover consisted of heart palpitations and tachycardia ALL day long which is when I went to the ER. I constantly worry (despite the heart tests I've had), that I've damaged my heart permanently and therefore, there's still something wrong with it.
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