I am a female, 49 years old. 5’6”, 150 lbs. I am in good health and exercise regularly. I take Imitrex as needed.
This is something that I have been dealing with for most of my adult life. Occasionally my heart will race. It will start to beat very fast, my vision will dim but not to the point of blacking out though at times I think I will, and all of a sudden I will feel very week. This will sometimes happen after I stand up from bending over to pick something up or if, for example, I sniff suddenly to ward off a runny nose in allergy season. There are also times where I will wake up in the middle of the night with my heart racing.
This has never happened when I do any cardio activity.
What I usually do is sit, if I have been standing, or lie down if possible, then I hold my breath. It seems to work after a few tries. My heart will speed up just a little bit more and then one big heart beat and a pause. Then all is back to normal and I feel fine.
So here is my question – what the hell is it? Is there a test I should take or is this just normal and I live with it?
Thank you in advance for your input and advice.
A few questions before we post your response...
What kind of studies have you had? Holter monitor? Cardiac stress test? An 'event monitor'? Have you seen a cardiologist? Have you ever passed out?
Doc1 here. I spoke with my colleagues on the blog about your case and will start with my thoughts. I know they have some specific ideas in addition to mine...
I really would want you to get set up with a holter monitor or event monitor. The possibility that you could have SVT or PSVT is first and foremost on my mind. Impossible to diagnose by history alone, you need to get it on an EKG or a monitor strip and a Holter or Event Monitor might be the only way to do this in your case.
As you can see from this link to a very good Mayo Clinic bit on tachydardia (rapid heart rate), symptoms such as you describe are the result of most of the tachy-dysrhythmias.
And then there's this, a quote from the same article...
Stopping a fast heart rate
A fast heartbeat may correct itself, and you may be able to slow your heart rate using simple physical movements. However, you may need medication or other medical treatment to slow down your heartbeat. Ways to slow your heartbeat include:
- Vagal maneuvers. Your doctor may ask you to perform an action, called a vagal maneuver, during an episode of a fast heartbeat. Vagal maneuvers affect the vagus nerve, which helps regulate your heartbeat. The maneuvers include coughing, bearing down as if you're having a bowel movement, and putting an icepack on your face.