Afib/tachycardia desperate for help

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I typed a detailed entry on my history and current problem on another forum, but cannot copy the text to paste it here.

Emis Moderator comment: I have copied and pasted the post referred to above rather than link to a competitor's website.

Short story- history of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, now wasting away to nothing and having extremely debilitating tachycardia episodes. I have written everything below that I could possibly think of because I am so desperate for any help.

Very long story.....

My history:

I am a 32 y/o female with family history of fib in both parents. My father died before he could lose enough weight to get a valve replacement and my mother only has very minor episodes of irregular rhythm. My only other illness is polycystic ovarian syndrome. I have only had two surgeries in my life, one was a c-section, and one was when I was 6 weeks pregnant to remove my left ovary and tube due to a 5 inch diameter ovary cyst that had torted several times. I had very random symptoms spread across my 22-28 y/o life. None of the episodes lasted long enough to be caught and I was left undiagnosed and untreated. At this time I weighed approx 320 lbs (and 6ft tall) When I was 28 the episodes started coming on more frequently and for longer each time. Longest at that point was about 20 minutes, they caught it on an ekg and I was put on 5mg bisoprolol which seemed to keep symptoms at bay until I became pregnant at which time I began having palpitations again, so they upped my dosage to 10mg. After the birth of my son all symptoms subsided and I was eventually weened off of all meds within a year of having him. (2yrs ago)


I gained weight and was up to 355lbs, and decided to turn my life around a few months ago. I was a heavy smoker, ate horribly, drank a lot of caffienated things just to keep up with life. I started having a random palpatation or two each day. I worked really hard at changing my eating habits, started drinking shakeology shakes once or twice a day, and began exercising on a very regular basis. As a few weeks went by I noticed the palpatations were getting more frequent but still didn't bother me at all, and I knew the best way to resolve the issue long term was to focus on my weight loss. I was doing FANTASTICALLY until a month and a half ago. My heart went into afib, I was rushed to ER and didn't convert back to sinus until 24 hours later. The cardiologist put me on metoprolol (can't remember dosage 25mg I think?) a few days later had another episode so he Switched me to bisoprolol since it had worked in the past. Both times of which I was a little tired and groggy afterwards but nothing major and felt like my normal self in a day or two. At this time I stopped smoking, I stopped drinking any caffeine and really refined my already pretty well balanced diet. At this point I was down to 325lbs.

A week or two later my heart went into tachycardia which I had never experienced before, it had always just been an irregular rhythm in the past. My heart skyrocketed while I was completely relaxed, and hit 180 at the only point I could manage to take my own pulse. Everything from my chest up went tingly then numb and my muscles began to clench. After about 15 minutes or so my heart rate started to go down. The ambulance arrived, and they gave me cardizem which brought me further back to normalcy. The cardiologist said it sounded like I had a bad reaction to the bisoprolol and began me on a low dose of cardizem. Over the next few weeks I had a few more episodes of tachythat lasted a minute or two then subsided but with very nasty after effects. So he upped my dosage to 3 60mg cardizem a day and put me on 2 .25mg xanax a day. Then it happened again. Back into the ER. For the fifth time in a month and now I am on 240mg extended release cardizem.

When these episodes happen I can feel them coming on. I remain calm, focused, take calm breaths, and think happy thoughts. After they begin to subside OR as soon as they go above a heart rate of 130, I become extremely dizzy and nauseous, begin throwing up, I become very disoriented, and my face feels like it's on fire. I remain nauseous and disoriented for quite a while afterwards and begin somewhat violently shaking (kind of from the pit of my stomach outward) for a couple of minutes.

My first day out of hospital yesterday I had only a few very minor palpitations and dizzy spells, but today I couldn't walk 20 feet with out my heart feeling like it was going to explode out of my chest. It would only get to 110-125 ish but it felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest and I had a few palpitations in a row. I have absolutely no appetite, get dizzy everytime I just adjust myself where I'm sitting, crazy hot face flushing.....

Everytime I go into the ER due to one of these episodes I feel like I'm taking ten steps backwards then crawl forward one or two feet before getting thrown back another ten steps. There are several cardiologists that are overseeing my case, but none of them have any answers. One of which has been rated the second best in this whole area.

I seem to be EXTREMELY sensitive to any type of stimulation. Even talking to someone makes my heart rate start to go up. Especially if it's anything slightly emotional, and even more especially when it is something stressful. For instance discussing my heart problems and how I'm doing with friends and family, trying to get insurance sorted, and bills payed. But sometimes it's somethig as simple as someone walking into the room. I have been under severe stress the last year or so, but have never let it get to me. Trying to get my husbands visa sorted so he can come live with us, raising an extremely hyperactive toddler, renovating a house on my own while living with my mother, her boyfriend, and my grandmother. I could go on for hours, but the point being that I reached my stress level limit I suppose.

I currently weigh 296lbs, a lot of which was due to these episodes, the nausea, the vomiting.....and when I could eat I chose very very carefully to try and get the best nutrients possible in me because I didn't know when I could eat again. Today I ate a collective 1/3 of a normal meal in tiny little bites across the day. I'm finding hard to drink, and I loooooove drinking icy water.

I'm sure there's a lot more to this that could be useful, but I don't know what else to say right now.

What do I do? Where do I go? I can no longer travel since I can't even walk twenty feet..... I'm completely at a loss and feel like I'm losing a grip on everything....

Please help me. I'm begging.



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4 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Anna, good to hear from you.

    There is a quite a bit of information in your post I cannot fully understand, so I am a little reluctant to reply in case I mislead you (I'd guess this might also apply to some others on this forum who are usually most helpful).

    I have no medical knowledge whatsoever so I don't know the difference between AFIB and the SVT I had for about 20 years until it was eliminated completely by an ablation procedure.

    In case they are similar, I will comment on what I think I understand.

    I have been a couple of stone (sometimtes more!) overweight for most of my adult life, but never remember a physician mentioning it as a likely contributor to SVT (apart from SVT my heart was physically quite healthy).

    I have smoked too much and drank far more alcohol than recommended for as long as I can remember, and I was advised to cut these out. I tried that for a while but, bizzarely, the SVT episodes became more common during that time. Others here might have benefitted from such abstinence though, so you will need to hear from them.

    Apart from the usual sudden/gravitational movements that can trigger SVT (e.g. bending down suddely to pick something up), my SVT would happen when I was not physically exerting myself at all. Usually just sitting down relaxing watching TV or something like that.

    I am certain of only two other SVT triggers in my case, both of which you touched on.

    One was caffeine, the other was mental/emotional stress. 

    In the case of caffeine, the SVT would often start within an hour of taking tea or coffee. Cutting out all caffeine made a huge difference to the incidence of SVT. By 'all' I mean even decaff coffee/tea which still have a small amount, and other stuff like Lucozade and soft drinks etc. Before I had SVT for the first time I used to drink maybe ten cups of coffee a day, and I have read a medical paper that said severe allergies can be built up that way.

    In the case of mental stress, I noticed a pattern whereby SVT would never happen during it (e.g. a family row) but often a day later when everything had calmed down. Being helped to avoid stress also reduced the incidence of SVT.

    Eventually, when the medication and the avoidance of triggers no longer worked I had to have an ablation. This was probably one of the best things that happened in my life, because three years later I have not had a single SVT episode.

    Completely unconnected, I did once have what used to be called a 'nervous breakdown' following a death in the family. I mention this only because I think i recognise traces of some similar symptoms in your post. I do hope I am wrong about that, but if you are in doubt it might help to speak to someone other than a physician. This might also help to separate different ailments in order to make them easier to fully diagnose and treat.

    Before I finish, I must say I really worry that you are so distressed and adrift. I fear that you are not being properly understood by the physicians involved. If you also feel this to be the case, then I strongly recommend you see a caring psychologist or therapist to help you understand what's going on - and to help the physicians realise that they are creating a damaging void in your treatment.

    The vast majority of us on here have greatly benefitted from medical treatment for SVT, so there is every reason to believe you will too!

    Please take care of yourself, and let us know how things are going lol

    All the best, Ciaran


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  • Posted

    Hey Bowsoh..I am not a Dr but I know that drinking ice water can sometime cause people to pass out valsama maneuver or something and I am not sure how to spell that other than that info unfortunately the drs just have to run the gamet of tests until they figure you out perhaps you will need to move from you parents house or do what you need to do to remove a lot of that stress from your life. stress is not good its proven to be a cause of heart issues
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  • Posted

    Thank you so much for all of your encouraging words and my follow up for the last ER visit my cardiologist doubled the diltiazem again and put me on blood thinners because I was still showing signs of the SVT and even though I was on the diltiazem which should lower my blood pressure, my pressure was slightly high. So I'm now on 480mg of diltiazem a day, as well as .25mg of Xanax 3 times a day, and eliquil 2 times a day. I think what has bothered me most about this whole situation is that not only did this all come back on suddenly and very strongly, but it just keeps hitting me wave after wave after wave. Each time I begin to feel like I'm getting better, I get hit back to square one. Right now I'm just beginning to be able to eat somewhat normally, and do small tasks around the house. Small improvements each day......just trying to focus on that for now. I will be seeking out a psychiatrist asap since I now recognize that my anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of......and not something I should just try to deal with on my own, but rather it could go quite a long way to making me feel better not just mentally.....but physically as well. I have been overwhelmed with so much stress for so long I would say 'I QUIT' or 'I SERIOUSLY cannot do this anymore' several times a day, and feel as though I truly believed and meant it every time. That isn't me though. I never used to be so short tempered, and feel like I was drowning every time a small hiccup occurred during my day. I am a strong and happy person. It just became a part of my daily routine.....wake up, conquer the world, quit, function some more, quit again, drag through the remaining hours trying to rush in several more accomplishments and eventually pass out from exhaustion. Now I get it.....I really was TOO stressed and I need to figure out how to manage that better than I have been. 

    These cardiology forums have been amazing at opening up my eyes to every part of my situation. Thanks again for for taking the time to read through my post and message me back. It is very much appreciated.

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    • Posted

      Hi again Anna, It's great to hear you have decided to see someone about your stress. I'm sure that will help.

      Stick with it, carve some space out for yourself, and do let us know how you're getting on biggrin

      Best wishes, Ciaran

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