I'm a healthy, fit 26-year-old woman with no history of my heart doing anything except unnoticeably beating 70 times per minute. ETA: And I've been eating 'paleo' for 2 years this month, with wonderful results.
I recently underwent some personal/relationship problems that resulted in under-eating and weight loss, anxiety, and panic attacks - as well as frequent heart 'hiccups' in the form of pounding, palpitations, elevated heart rate (never more than 110 beats per minute when I've counted), and even mild chest pains on my left side below my collar bone. While I have a history of anxiety and have had panic attacks before, I've never had my heart act up like this so it was scary for me. But, I know it is a fairly normal side-effect of anxiety so I didn't worry too much.
The emotional problems are pretty much resolved as of a month ago, and I am feeling good, eating well, and have even put a little weight back on already. However, my heart is still acting up frequently - up to 8-10 times per day, some days. It seems to be triggered by eating, too (halfway through a meal it usually starts to pound). I have had problems with reactive hypoglycemic symptoms in the past, and I've been eating more carbs recently to help with weight gain, but it seems to happen whether it's a starchy meal or only fat and protein...
I talked to my doctor on the phone, he said it's probably nothing and will resolve soon, but to avoid stimulants. So I've cut out all caffeine but a small cup of tea in the morning (which does not trigger anything, this is more of a problem in the afternoon to evening).
I'm mostly looking for some suggestions on what I could do nutritionally to help this clear up, as well as any other advice anyone has. I'm thinking maybe a magnesium supp., and extra focus on potassium?
This is exactly what happened to me about 5 years ago when I was in my early 30s and I've talked about it in several PH answers before. Pounding heart and racing palpitations that were very severe and debilitating (couldn't sleep for weeks, etc.). I had my heart checked and wore the 24-hour monitor which showed runs of very high HR and skipped beats. This came on after I stopped taking BC pills after taking them for maybe 15 years straight. I believe my endocrine system got completely out of whack, including my adrenals. I was found to have low thyroid and have been on meds for that ever since. I believe the palpitations could have been a delayed reaction to emotional stress, prolonged low-carb and over-exercising. They eventually went away after a few months of agony.
After that I found that rest, cutting out caffeine and alcohol, upping carbs, taking thyroid meds and adrenal support supps all helped the residual insomnia.
Magnesium is highly important and potassium. Check out affibers.org for paleo friendly advice. Make an appt with a cardiologist.
eating paleo is highly recommended. I avoid chocolate and coconut. Also get 7.5 hours of sleep a night.
I think your doctor's advice to avoid stimulants is sound. Do you feel like there are any other triggers that might be precipitating any of the episodes? Emotional or physical triggers? Meditation or counseling might help. Even if the emotional problems are resolved, there may be resonating after affects or post traumatic stress syndrome at play.
A cardiologist will give you a portable heart monitor, so that you can record your heart beat during each episode. He should be able to give you a more concise diagnosis if it's a physical heart defect, so this may be worth looking into.
I have PACs from time to time. Things that seem to cause them are lots of caffeine, alcohol (hangovers really), stress, and possibly lack of sleep. These are closely related by the way so it's hard to tell if there is truly one trigger of possibly some combination. Nonetheless, I have found close attention to electrolytes quickly mitigates the symptoms.
Just for the record though, no amount of potassium + magnessium will undo the effects of 10 too many red bull and vodkas...
autonomic nervous system reactions such as heart racing can continue even when the stress is removed from the situation. Go to a chiropractor to calm down and re-pattern this hyperactive reaction.
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