E.R. visit Saturday and heart had to be stopped!

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Hello forum users,

I am a 30 year healthy female. I work out 3-6 times a week with cardio and weights, eat mostly healthy/balanced, no smoking, no drugs, drinking just with social occasion, and have never had any heart issues in the past. My normal resting rate is 55-60. Saturday, I was causally walking down the grocery aisle when my heart suddenly started beating so fast it shook my body. I knew something was wrong but considered maybe it was a panic attack without anxiety. My friend has had that happen to her a few times. I went home trying to do yoga breathing and meditation but my heart was still shaking my body back and forth. I felt normal beside my frantic heart. Finally after 45 minutes decided let's go to the E.R. My boyfriend drove me. On the way there my S Health finally captured a reading on my pluse: 231 bpm. I thought it must be misreading it.

I walked in and let them know my symptoms. They did a reading of my pulse and the front desk woman asked him if that reading was correct. They were trying to keep me calm I think but they brought me back immediately to draw blood and put a line in. They had me get in a wheel chair and started hooking me up to EKGS and all kinds of other things. It was like an E.R. show episode to me! I was keeping in good spirits making jokes and laughing with my nurses. I could tell it was really serious but figured I can't do anything other then try to not freak out. They hooked up a defibrillator telling me it was just a monitor, but I just saw Doctor Strange and recognized it! Haha. Two nurses had to insync administer a medication to stop my heart for a second in the hopes it would restart back at a lower rate. It was the weirdest feeling I've ever experienced! Luckily it worked and my heart went back down to low 100s. They monitored me for a few hours. Nurses were coming by to see me and say they've never seen anyone with anyone heart rate like that walking and standing much less laughing and making jokes! Another told me she hadn't seen a heart rate that high in ages!

So they determined it was definitely coming from the upper chamber of my heart. A singal was bypassing my normal pathways and causing the upper portion to beat fast which in turn caused the lower half to beat fast. They said it was SVT and I need to go see a specialist. I check my rate regularly and have never experienced abnormal readings before. I'm currently taking a low dose medicine to help keep my rate down. They told me I can resume normal exercise but if it abnormally goes back up for more than a few minutes I need to call 911/go back to E.R. I attempted very light cardio today and immediately my heart felt weird and my bmp shot up to 110 with shortness of breath when normally it'd be around 80 when I start this same cardio at higher settings.

I was wondering has anyone else experienced a similar situation? While I'm sleeping it's in the 70s/80s. In the last 2 days, even when my resting rate is low 60s it feels like it's beating irregularly against my chest. I can't tell if I'm just over thinking it. My appointment is next week so I was just looking for some insight in the meanwhile.

Thank you!

1 like, 21 replies

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21 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi, sorry you're having these troubles neutral

    It does sound very similar to an SVT episode. 

    The other symptoms you've been having more recently, like tightness in the chest, could be anxiety that the SVT might be about to return, and would be quite common.

    Please be reassured that SVT will NOT cause a heart attack. It can usually be controlled/avoided quite well using medication, and learned techniques, and can be cured altogether with an ablation if, like me, you are deemed suitable by a cardio. You should be able to live a very normal life once they get the meds tailored to you. 

    SVT episodes very often happen completely out of the blue when you are just relaxing, that's the weird bit!  Otherwise triggers and symptoms can vary quite a bit from person to person. Some of the most common triggers are caffeine (even decaff), sudden bending movements like picking up something you've dropped, and (possibly delayed) reaction to mental or emotional stress. Some here have mentioned reaction to physical stress/exercise but that never affected me personally.

    Most of us SVT people seem to have healthy hearts, but seem to be born with a small tissue anomaly that creates an alternative path for the electrical heart signals to annoying wander along sometimes and confuse the heart into thinking it has to do something silly!

    It can be complex so the best advice I can offer at the moment is to (a) have or find a really good GP you can trust and talk to easily and (b) find a really good cardio you can trust. 

    Glad your appointment is so soon because that'll take the diagnosis anxiety away soonest. If it is SVT I would strongly recommend talking to your cardio about an ablation (I only wish I had mine fifteen years earlier!).

    Take care, try not to worry, ask any other questions here you like, and do let us know how you're getting on wink


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  • Posted

    I experienced my first SVT symptoms when I was around 38 years old. I was shopping at the grocery store and then all of a sudden I could feel my heart beat so fast and hard. I was able to call my doctor and I drove myself to her office. I didn't experience any shortness of breath or any other symptoms. I was then referred to a cardiologist and electrophysiologist. He just told me that I had SVT and it was a condition that wasn't life threatening. I didn't have any more SVT attacks until 9 years later. During those years, I began drinking more coffee which I usually don't. My heart rate was over 212 beats per minute. I could barely breathe, I had to call 911 because I was afraid of passing out. I was given 4 doses of adenosine intravenously before my heart rate returned to normal. Now, whenever I feel my heart is beating faster than normal, I splash my face with ice water, do a val salva maneuver and rest. It usually subsides after 30 min- 1hour. My doctor said he can do an ablation, but I'm not ready. I'm currently not taking any medications for SVT or any heart condition. I do have premature atrial contractions often, but I just live with it. Having SVT has made me feel more anxious and frustrated. I don't drink alcohol or drink coffee or any caffeine. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Vimarie. I had SVT for about 20 years until chemo forced me to have an ablation. That was almost 5 years ago and I have gone from about 6 SVT episodes a day to not even a single one since. 

      I'll be pushing 60 soon. My experience was that the entire ablation procedure was no worse than one SVT episode of the same duration.

      My only worthwhile role in life seems to be to convince others to have an ablation smile.

      So is there any way I can convince you?

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    • Posted

      How often did you have SVT attacks? My cardiologist said it could get worse as a person gets older. It's good that you had positive results from the ablation. Did you have premature atrial contractions also before the ablation?


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    • Posted

      Originally, 20 odd years ago, maybe once a week. They gradually became more frequent, to about three times a week about 5 years ago. The combination of chemo and steroids when I had cancer drove my heart mad and I started having about 6 quite episodes most days so the cancer people refused to continue chemo unless the heart people could reassure them I wouldn't have a heart attack. I had an ablation within about 2 days of that. Best thing that ever happened. 

      It seems it does worsen with age.

      They give you stuff to chill you out before, during and after the ablation so its not stressful at all really smile.

      Probably a bit like being released from the prison that SVT can become once its hard to control. 

      I'm sorry I don't know what atrial contractions are because I never google my health stuff since the cancer (if I need to know I'll ask someone I trust to find out for me!). But I was going to A&E a lot during the last year before the ablation.

      I'm in Ireland. Do you live somewhere an ablation is a realistic option for you?


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    • Posted

      Yes, I live in the U.S. and having an ablation is a realistic option. My cardiologist is just waiting for me to say yes.

      I don't have SVT very often, but just the thought of going through it again makes me nervous all the time. The irregular heartbeats PAC's bother me more than the SVT's because I get lightheaded most of the time. This week I will have an MRI on my brain to rule out anything that causes me to get lightheaded.

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    • Posted

      Yes, I know, the almost constant anticipation or fear of an out-of-the-blue SVT episode is so debilitating sad

      The other thing was that, for me, they had to increase the meds so much over the years that they me me ill (nervy, edgy, faint...). So, in order to live as normal a life as possible, for the last year or two I took the decision to abandon the meds and have more SVT episodes.

      Do you fear the trauma of the ablation procedure? Or do you feel the risk of dying from it is considerable?


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  • Posted

    Yes most of us are very familiar with having this medication.  It doesn't stop the heart so much as slow and then interrupt the beat.   I first had this medication when I was 24 and didn't require it again for another 8 years or so.   SVT usually does worsen as you get older (I'm now 43 and have had lots of ED visits for Adenosine in the past 4 years but was barely bothered by it before then).  For goodness sake dont' let it stop you living your life.  I see so many paralysed by a needless anxiety over it.  I can honestly say that outside of an active episode I have never let it stop me doing a single thing in my life, even with lots of ectopic beats/palpitations daily.  

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    • Posted

      NB I refuse to take daily medication for something I don't experience daily.  Medication always has consequences.  I amazes me how many people from the US are immediately put on medication after an SVT episode and a few palpitations.

      SVT will not kill you, either will a few ectopics.  Ignore it and choose life.  You only get one and it's too short to spend worrying about an episode of SVT which isn't dangerous anyway.

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  • Posted

    I had something similar happen. I was in good physical shape, could run up and down stairs, go hard on the exercise bike for an hour and walked daily. My resting heart rate was about 65 and it took intense exercise get my heart rate to 120.

    My heart rate was tested at 248 in my last SVT episode. After Adenosine it dropped to 125 but wouldn't go lower. In the days afterward it would spike to 175+ with a short walk across my house.

    With Metoprolol it was barely controlled and I had constant PVCs which were caught on the holter monitor I wore right after that episode. I switched to Cardizem which stopped the PVCs but a simple 10 minute walk would push my heart rate to 125.

    It was very discouraging because simple housework would push my heart rate up rapidly and leave me fatigued. The situation became intolerable after my ovaries were removed. I lost the protective effects of natural estrogen and a simple walk took my heart rate to 154. I was constantly exhausted at work and struggled to make it through the day. I also suffered severe angina caused by the high heart rate.

    After a lot of expensive tests and wearing the holter monitor many more times my electrophysiologist determined I had autonomic dysfunction. I had already had significant issues with autonomic dysfunction related to my thyroid and my digestive system for about 20 years prior to this big SVT episode so they may have figured it to be a progression of an existing issue.

    I recently started taking Corlanor (ivabradine) which has been close to a miracle drug. My resting heart rate is back to the low 60s and although it still jumps to 100 with a brisk walk, I expect it to drop as I become physically fitter and feel stronger.

    During the diagnosis process it was thought that I had IST or POTS but I didn't meet all the meet the criteria for either one even with overlapping symptoms. To this day I'm not sure what triggered the autonomic dysfunction. I went from feeling strong and healthy one day, to fatigued and dizzy with frequent shortness of breath all the time right after that long SVT episode. All prior SVT episodes ended spontaneously or with help from breathing exercises. That last one was the only one needing Adenosine.

    Good luck with your diagnosis.

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  • Posted

    Thank you for all the replies and useful insight! So far I'm still experiencing up and down heart rates and seem to be pretty tired. Not sure if it's from the medication with the fatigue. If it's permanent, I'm going to push for ablation. I had my tonsils removed after 6 months of debilitating infections. The recovery was so awful and had to be taken to the hospital. The ENT said that it was one of the worst surgeries to recover from as an adult. Compared to that ablation sounds not bad at all. Since I am self employed as a wedding photographer, I'm worried that if I have another bad episode and need to go to ER during a wedding that it'd be awful for my business! Beside the fact of my health lol. Anyway thank you guys!!!

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  • Posted

    Hi! I also had a scary SVT emergency rescue just two weeks ago. But unlike you, I was freaking out the whole time. Youre really brave!

    I woke up one morning, still suffering from shortness of breath. But noticed that my heart was abnormally fast. But my main concern was my shortness of breath, which I had been experiencing for over a week.

    When I went to the ER, my bpm was already 145. I chalked it up to extreme fear (hospitals scare me) but didnt think something was wrong.

    After a casual slow-paced interview, they did ECG. When the ECG guy ran to the main ER room, I knew something was seriously wrong. The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by half a dozen nurses, hooked on a cardiac monitor, wheeled into the super emergency section. I was so scared I didnt know what was happening, except that I couldnt breathe with fear. My heart was pounding.

    They did carotid massage, but everyone was moving with such speed and efficiency, but quiet. Nurses had fear in their eyes. I finally understood that my heart was racing. Someone put an ice pack over my head. I kept telling them that I was just scared, and the doctor calmly told me that someone scared or nervous wont get that high a rate.

    I think my heart went up to 167bpm, but they injected me with adenosine through an IV line in the fold of my arm. But they raised my arm so the med will quickly go to my heart. The sensation felt weird. Like my heart was collapsing and ballooning.

    The adenosine worked and my heart settled to 120s, and everyone relaxed. They admitted me for 4 days, trying to find the problem. Because I also had fever. They put me on verapamil oral meds to keep my heart behaved. They never addressed my shortness of breath problem. All my tests came back negative, except for slightly elevated white blood cells.

    They sent me home 4 days later. But the following day, I returned for high suspicion of pulmonary embolism. They admitted me again and after several tests, I came back positive with pulmonary embolism-- which explained my shortness of breath.

    My SVT never happened after that incident in the ER. My docs think that the medicine theophylline caused my SVT.

    Until now, Im on verapamil. I am still tachycardic due to my pulmo embolism. My resting heart rate is in the 70s, but mostly Im in the 90s. Normal but still on the high side. I asked my docs if I still have to take verapamil since my SVT seemed like an isolated case (my 2D echo came back normal), but he wants me on it until my follow-up checkup next week.

    Anyway, the SVT was so damn scary. But I ended up with a scarier disease: pulmo embolism. Lol.

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    • Posted

      Just to clarify - the fear in the ED was yours.  SVT does not cause Nurses to run around with fear in their eyes.  It is not serious nor is it life threatening - and they deal with a lot of things that are on a daily basis. Last time I was in the ED there were 5 Category 2 scenarios in the space of an hour.  Several times my adenosine conversion has been delayed due to them attending to more serious cases.  SVT is a standard ED admission that they deal with several times per week  (from a Nurse).

      The ice pack is used in an attempt to get the SVT to convert to sinus rhythm.  I have had one convert by washing my hands in icy water before.

      The PE is much more serious than SVT

      Please don't inflate the SVT into something fare more serious than it is.  I see people here do that all the time and end up with anxiety that destroys their life.  When the cardiologist says it's not life threatening, they don't say that to make you feel better.  They say it because it's true.

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    • Posted

      I'm sorry but the nurses DO run around when it happens! My husbands dr called an ambulance when his heart was at 200bpm! They rushed him saying he could DIE! The nurse at the ER also said if it happens again HE COULD DIE! so quit telling people it's no big deal....drs wouldn't rush u to the hospital in an ambulance in their office, stop treating their other patients to take care of someone that isn't going to die!!!!! Drs don't drop everything for nothing!

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    • Posted

      EVERY bit of written information that you will see about SVT categorises it as non-fatal.  But don't rely on my research - do your own.  When you can find something that says otherwise then please post it here.

      Having turned up at the ED with a heart rate over 200 bpm about 30 times over the last 30 years the story is always the same.  SVT is a routine admission.  Although they priotise converting it there are a hundred other conditions which will make them reprioritise and treat someone else who is genuinely about to die. I've laid there with a heart rate of 200bpm while they've attended more serious matters.  Everything in the ED is categories and SVT is no the highest priority - not even nearly.  If somebody is imminently in genuine danger they will walk away from your bed and leave you with a Nurse - without hesitation.  Because a person with SVT is not in imminent danger.

      Not only do I have 30 years of experience with this condition and know exactly how it's received in the ED, I am also a Registered Nurse.  I don't even bother going to the ED until the SVT has persisted for 2 -3  hours.  It doesn't suddenly become an emergency because I'm at the hospital.

      Our public system has a wait list of at least 9 months for SVT ablation -which shows the degree of priority it has.  If people were dropping dead from SVT they'd have surgery within a week.

      Please do not make this into a drama that it's not.  Because it isn't.  All of the literature and all of the Drs will tell you that this is not life threatening unless there is severe cardiac disease in the vessels already present.  

      Watch some of Sanjay Gupta's videos on youtube.  He will tell you that it's not dangerous unless it was at about 250bpm for a very long time - like all day.

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    • Posted

      And when I asked my cardiologist if there were any risks of not having an ablation he just said

      "No there isn't - you'll get sick of having to the ED as it will become more frequent as you age."   

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    • Posted

      Well i can only go by our experience and they dropped everything....now he had recently had a stroke a few days before. His dr after listening to his heart said your heart caused your stroke! Now we have an appt to see his electro cardiologist we will find out for sure. Me n hubby thinks he has afib but all drs say NO its svt....but everything I read online days svt won't cause a stroke.

      Not sure why the ER nurse flipped out and said if he has another episode he would die. They put hubby on metropolol so his heart stays calm....we have to figure out where stroke came from.

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    • Posted

      If he'd had a stroke before the SVT presentation then it's known as a "co-morbidity" and it's the combination of issues they are worried about.  ie the effect of the SVT on the recent stroke situation.

      SVT on its own is not dangerous.  


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