Severe Panic Attack or Near Cardiac Arrest?

Posted , 4 users are following.

Hello everyone, 

I've always been a bit of a stress case since I was a child, but I never had anxiety symptoms get out of control. I'm 27, male, and my anxiety has gone out of control. 

This all started with a wave of symptomes in July 2015 (Three months ago). I had a severe panic attack where I felt very dizzy. I went to the ER and everything was fine. Since then, I've had the follwoing tests: 3 EKGs, 1 24hr Holter monitor, 1 MRA of the brain, 1 CAT Scan, and blood tests. Everything has come back normal, with the exception of the Holter monitor. The doctor said I had a bit of an arrhythmia, but nothing to worry about. 

Since the first time I went to the doctor, the symptoms I have all day every thing day are: lightheadedness at all times (sometimes it gets better but does not go away completely). and stabbing pains in my head, around the eyes, etc. 

I've been been a runner since highschool, and when all of this started to happen I turned towards running to cope with the issue. The anxiety got a lot better, although the lightheadedness did not go away completely. Two days ago I went for a 3 mile jog (I usually do 6 to 8 miles on the weekends). When I was almost done, I felt extremly dizzy. Like I was going to die. No chest pains. I stopped to feel my pulse, and I felt my heart skipping (having long pauses). Now I'm not making this up, I know how to take my pulse and I swear on my mom's grave that I felt my heart take long pauses, after running!!! I freaked out and found someone to call 911. The paramedics came and hooked me up to an EKG machine and took my blood pressure. They said everything checked out. heart looked normal and blood pressure was fine. They said that the only abnormality was that my HR was fluctuating from 80 bpm to 120, which was odd. They took me to the ER and did standard blood tests and EKGs. Everything normal.....

I know what I felt was real, and we've had family friends who are perfectly healthy marathon runners have cardiac arrest after races. 

The only unhealthy history I have is that I used cocaine and mixed it with alcohol a few times in college. I haven't touched it ever since and I wonder if I made permanent damage to my heart. The doctors say that I coudln't with how much I did. I wasn't an addict but I did do it maybe once a month for a year. 

Has anyone expreience a panic attack so bad that you feel your heart stop? I just can't grasp the idea that this episode was a panic attack. 

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12 Replies

  • Posted

    Bob, did you see a cardiologist outside the ER? The arrhythmia is what you are feeling, but a stress test and echocardiogram should be done. Ekgs are a moment in time... Call and see a cardiologist

    I have an arrhythmia I know how uncomfortable that are, usually benign tho if they are PVCs.. Hang in there

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    • Posted

      Thank you for the advice. I did make an appointment with the cardiologist. Prior to this, I had a 24hour Holter Monitor. They found nothing in that 24hour period. The doctor said that the cardiologist would probably put me on a 30 day event monitor! If they don't catch anything then I guess I'm just loony... haha. Thank you Ann

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  • Posted

    bob

    All of above sounds like anxiety and your tests seemed to show that fact

    I have a hole in my heart and was not told until I had an accident when I was twenty six years old. I am still here at sixty six with a steady pulse. I was told to forget about it, I did and still here, to keep dwelling over the problem will just make you unhappy, live your life and joy yourself.

    You sound fit with your running, if you are very Anxious try Relaxation Techniques Mindfulness is a technique that covers many facets and is worth a try, you can get books on it to help.

    Breathing exersises will help you as well, ask your GP for both if you have problems getting instruction

    BOB

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  • Posted

    Bob

    I have the same exact fear as you mate! And its not fun. Especially if you feel like you can drop dead any moment.

    Cardiac arrest is caused by a rare but fatal arrythmmia called ventricular fibrillation. What kind of arrythmias are you having? Pvcs and Pacs? Premature ventricular contractions and ventricular fibrillation are unrelated. Ventricular tachycardia often causes v fib, but sometimes it doesnt, especially in people with otherwise 100% healthy hearts.

    98 percent of all cardiac arrests have an underlying cause. However, your situation is a panic attack. Sudden cardiac arrest usually happens without warning. And after countless visits to the ER, tests indicate that you are not at risk. If you are still concerned about your heart see a cardiologist.

    If you have any questions about pvcs, pacs, ventricular fibrillation and non-sustained v tach.. Simply reply.

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    • Posted

      When my primary care physician said I have an arrhythmia, he reffered to it as "a few extra beats but nothing to worry about". After I asked what that was exactly he used the word arrhythmia and left it as that. This last time I was in the ER, the ER doctor used the term "pvc". I'm not 100% sure on that but I recall the term from reading your reply. 

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    • Posted

      Pvc is an early or extra heart beat in the ventricles. It generally is NOT anything to worry about. You may be having frequent pvcs which are described as bigeminy (every other beat) trigeminy (every two beats) and quadrigeminy ( every three beats ). Many people confuse this with ventricular tachycardia. 3 pvcs in a row of more is called a "salvo" which means that they happen consecutively. 2 in a row is called a couplet. 3 or more pvcs in a row is considered to be ventricular tachycardia, and it could either be non-sustained or sustained. Non-sustained v tach in 100% normal hearts and I MEAN 100% normal will usually not cause v fib, many people could have v tach for an hour an never go into v fib. Although its still important to get emergency care to stop it. But i can reassure you that pvcs are not dangerous in your situation.. And are benign.

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for this information. This made me feel a lot better. I'm guessing then that feeling I got after feeling my pulse was an extreme panic attack. Again, I didn't faint but I feel like I was going to die. At the ER my sister asked the doctor to prescribe me anxiety meds (My sister is an RN that used to work at this ER actually. she knew the doctor personally). I took half of a .5 mg xanax yesterday and I felt better. No migranes and the lightheadedness basically went away. I really didn't want to take meds but my sister insits I must. She's an ER Registered Nurse and she says that I have all the clear signs of a psych patient. sad

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  • Posted

    It doesn't sound like a panic attack. The part about feeling a pause. Fluctuations from slower to faster could happen as a result of panic. If I were you I would take it easy on the running and go get a stress test. That way they can get your heart rate up like you do when you run and see exactly what's going on. And no I doubt you did damage to your heart on that amount of cocain. Get a stress test. it will put you at ease.

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  • Posted

    The pauses are due to pvcs. What happens is that when a pvc occurs, the ventricles beat earlier then they should. The heart will pause briefly to fill up with enough blood.. And will beat hard after. Sometimes, the palpitation can occur while the extra heart beat takes place. This gives a sensation of a skipped or missed heart beat.

    Another cause for pauses in your heart can be sinus pause or also known as sinus arrest. This happens when the sinus node fails to send and electrical signal to the atrioventricular node.. Which is responsible for sending signals down the bundle of his... And cause the ventricles to contract.

    The fluctuating could be caused by sinus arrythmmia... Or ventricular tachycardia. But usually, ventricular tachycardia produces heart rates of 180 or higher. I would see a cardiologist.

    Panic attacks can mess with your heart rythmn, because of the adrenaline they cause. Sometimes and over active thyroid could cause arrythmmias.

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  • Posted

    The only thing left here is a stress test. To mimic what happened to you. Ask for one and then see what transpires from that. from there explain to the cardiologist whats going in and what he feels you should do.
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