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My Heart stopped for several seconds


Gena
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Hi everyone. I'm sitting here in the wee hours of the morning and trying not to be too scared about what just happened. I woke up, went to the bathroom, sat back down in bed, propped up with a pillow and was feeling a bit anxious and having some forceful heartbeats, so I started doing some breathing exercises, in through the nose and out through the nose to try and relax. Well, the breathing seemed to be making me feel worse, but I thought, "just keep doing it and you'll feel better"...well I was so WRONG!!

The next thing I know those forceful heartbeats stopped, and my heart completely quit beating, i got a shooting pain where my chest meets the arm pit area and felt really dizzy and detached. This lasted for what seemed an eternity, but maybe about 10 seconds, with NO HEARTBEAT at all. I was completely freaked out. And then suddenly my heart starts beating really fast in a very weird rhythm, like having heart beats on top of hearts beats, I guess it would be called PVCs, but not sure. and then within a few seconds got back to a normal pace, but still kind of forceful.

Has anything like this happened to anyone, where they heart just stops for several seconds? All of my cardio tests are completely normal except for a mild mitral valve prolapse. Should I go back to the cardiologist or just chalk it up as POTS/MVP? I'm not sure what my BP was before it did this, but I checked it right after everything calmed down somewhat and it was normal 116/72, pulse 70. In the past whenever I've done breathing exercises because my heart is forceful, it tends to make me feel worse (although, it's never completely stopped my heart until tonight). Has anyone had any similar experiences?

P.S. I've been doing soooo well for the last several months, with only very mild symptoms and my blood pressure has been fairly stabilized (and then boom! this hits me and now I'm scared to go back to sleep. :unsure:

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Gena,

Of course you felt scared to go back to sleep. I am so sorry you had such a scary episode.

10 seconds is a long time, and the pain is concerning. I think definitely you need to describe this episode to your cardiologist as soon as possible. Is it possible you are taking a drug or herbal remedy that could have triggered or exaccerbated this?

I have had some very weird heart rhythms at times, including many episodes where it certainly seemed like my heart stopped (but not for 10 seconds--maybe 1 or 2) and then beat fast, oddly and/or forcefully. (And during the time it seemed my heart stopped, I would also feel faint). I have had days where it seemed like my heart could not find a regular rhythm--was very irregular. None of this in my case was ever recorded on a holter monitor, and it was ultimately chalked up to POTS.

I don't know why the breathing exercises would make you feel worse. In my experience though, when I am having a rhythm "issue", breathing differently doesn't help (except perhaps to make me relax a bit). Sometimes drinking fluids helps.

Hope you get some answers soon, or reassurance that it is "just" POTS. It probably is, but good to talk to your doctor about it.

take care,

Katherine

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Just another thought, Gena. You haven't stopped a beta blocker recently? It takes the circulatory system awhile to adjust, if so. I tapered off my beta blocker at one point. Even with tapering off, I had weird rhythm symptoms for awhile afterwards. Ultimately, I chose to go back on a very small dose of the beta blocker.

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That does not sound like a common POTS symptom, but I would guess that having POTS might predispose you to having more rhythm disturbances. I would call your cardiologist and ask for an event monitor in case it happens again. I don't think your heart could have actually stopped beating for that long and then just started up again -- because people don't just come back from asystole. Maybe it was an episode of atrial fibrillation or something else that produced such a rapid, weak beat that you couldn't detect it.

Please call your doctor or cardiologist soon. Because generally, it's not a good thing to have arrythmias. Are you taking any heart-related meds? Beta blockers offer some protection against arrythmias.

Amy

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I have had episodes where I swear my heart has stopped but if it had i would have passed out. Not to diminish from what you went through but I would guess your heart didn't stop. My doctor says it just feels that way. Whenever my heart skips a beat I swear it stops and it is VERY scary. My prayers are with you.

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In answer to some of your questions, I am not on any beta blockers or other prescription meds. ( My doctors all have said they are reluctant to try BBs b/c my blood pressure gets so low. I tried a calcium ch. blocker a few months ago, but it made me so weak I could hardly get out of bed.)

I have been on my usual multi-vitamins and ashwaghanda herb (helps with low blood pressure) for many months now and have not recently changed anything that I take. I have been very stressed the last week though.

I've always noticed that whenever I've had a skipped beat espisode before and then weird rhythms afterward that breathing exercises usually seem to make it worse and more erratic, most of the time. However, I've never had a skipped beat episode that lasted for as long as this one did. I could not feel any heart beat at all and it felt like the blood was draining from my head. I will definitely see my cardio about this, however it takes a minimum of a month to get into see a cardiologist around here.

It was a very frightening experience to say the least. But I have faith that I'll be okay! :D I'm feeling okay today, just exceptionally tired due to lack of sleep the past couple of nights. :)

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I have faith you are going to be ok, too. :)

True what the others have said--my doctor also told me about my similar experiences--it just FEELS like your heart has stopped. I have to say though that I never felt that way for as long as 10 seconds. I would be scared by that, too. I'm glad you will talk to your doctor about it.

Take care, Katherine

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I've always noticed that whenever I've had a skipped beat espisode before and then weird rhythms afterward that breathing exercises usually seem to make it worse and more erratic, most of the time. However, I've never had a skipped beat episode that lasted for as long as this one did. I could not feel any heart beat at all and it felt like the blood was draining from my head.

Gena, I've had this happen more than once, and I think the longest duration was probably over 5 seconds. After the blood-draining sensation, I get something of a "pressure-like" rush of blood to my head, and my face gets beet-red. It's terrifying. A good, hard cough can help; I also gently massage my upper chest, circular motion, when I wake up (or try to go to sleep) in a state of anxiety. I can tell you, hope it ofers you some reassurance, that this particular experience has happened only a VERY few times in the 20+ years I've been living with all the propblems of dysautonomia.

Which brings me to my next point: The action of breathing in involves one part of your ANS, and exhaling involves another (can't remember which is which, sorry 'bout that.) For example, many POTS/dysautonomic people will feel a slight IHB at times when they simply take a deep breath. Anyway, I'm wondering - you said you had come through a stressful week, and perhaps that messed with your ANS, priming you for an episode where the relaxation techniques that should have helped only worsened the problem? Because the ANS was already impacted by the stress (and then adrenaline, whether as a result of emotions or fatigue), and then your ANS was further irritated by the concentrated breathing techniques.

JMO, but when I feel a certain "type" of anxiety - hard to describe, but it's just different than usual - I get up and move around, rather than do relaxation techniques.

Hope I didn't lose ya here - been having a bad time of it recently, and I'm not as articulate as I'd like to be. Take care.

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Thanks JLB for the post. On two occasions my heart has gotten out of rhythm when it was racing so fast in the middle of the night, so I tried to do some abdominal breathing and then exhale somewhat deeply through the mouth (or through the nose.) On both occurances, the arrythmia came when exhaling. So now I'm afraid to try anything but good old normal breathing when my heart starts racing. I woke up a few minutes ago with heart racing from a nightmare, but managed to get it to calm down without any noticable arrythmias within about 5 minutes. So here I sit, unable to go back to sleep, perusing the electronic universe! :lol:

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Yes, I actually blacked out. Not passed out, but everything closed in, went gray and then black, and then slowly reversed. During that process, my heart squeezed tighter and tighter and did stop beating entirely for probably about 5-8 seconds. Once it started beating again, I had a long bout of tachycardia, incredible trembling and some shortness of breath. For months before I blacked out, I had been having all kinds of weird heart-related symptoms. I do have mitral valve prolapse, but didn't know it until after that.

What I learned (not from the doctors, of course) was that I had a severe deficiency of B vitamins, particularly B6. After something like 8-10 months on high doses of B6, no more skips, palps, gurgles, etc. I was told to take 9 Nature's Sunshine brand of B6, and I followed it religiously, 3 pills chewed 3 times a day. When I was finally told to stop taking it (started having numbness/tingling in my hand, which indicated the beginning of overdose), I went many months without it. That was many years ago. Since then, if I start having little palps, etc., I take 1 or 2 a day for just a few days and it disappears - but it's rare that it shows up at all anymore. I don't know what specifically is different between any of the brands I tried, but if I took something other than Nature's Sunshine brand, I got no results at all.

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Opus, can that brand be ordered via the internet?

Just another thought on the relaxation techniques: I find them to be beneficial as a preventative measure - something done regularily, not in the midst of an episode, because of the ANS implications once the system is already taxed.

BTW, next time I'm up at 2 AM, I'm going to log on here and see who's around. :lol:

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Opus and JLB...

I actually work part-time for an herb shop which carries all of nature's sunshine products. And yes you can order their products on the internet at naturessunshine

And yes, you will often find me on the board in the wee hours of the morning. I am in a very erratic sleep pattern right now! :lol:

Opus, do you take just the single B6 supplement or do you use a B complex? Also, my B12 levels are always fine when tested, but I've never had any other B vitamins tested. Should I just ask my doctor to test for other B vitamins - is it a standard blood test, like B12?

Timbo...thanks for confirming what I suspected was true about the deep breathing.

I do use deep breathing techniques like JLB said as a preventative measure, but trying to do them when I've having tachycardia just doesn't work for me.

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one with these types of complications. I guess since I have mild MVP, it makes things even worse. Nonetheless, I will make an appt. with the cardiologist just to be on the safe side. Thanks!

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Wow, I am ALWAYS learning all kinds of things on this forum.

I have never noticed an effect on my heart rhythm from deep breathing--BUT, this is strange, but I guess has the same sort of explanation--after I have eaten and I can feel food leaving my stomach--I get palpitations that coincide. I have always wondered what was going on. When it started about six years ago, it freaked me out, now I barely notice it (and it isn't that frequent anymore).

Also, does anyone know a reason why someone would become deficient in B vitamins if he or she is eating a balanced, whole foods diet? Does it have something to do with ANS dysfunction too?

Thanks, Katherine

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Hi, Gena!

At that time, I took just the B6 along with 3 of Nature's Sunshine GTF Chromium each day. I don't do the doctor thing - those 2 things were suggested to me via an Amish natural health practitioner who used a combination of iridology and kinesiology. I'm sure a B complex would be quite good for most any of us here, but the B6 is what specifically came up for me - and it worked!

Katherine,

Inability to properly absorb foods due to digestive or intestinal conditions, the lack of nutrients in today's foods (due to poor soil, failure to rotate crops, chemical fertilizers & pesticides, etc.), eating a processed/junk food diet, prescriptions, interference from our highly chemical environment, over-exercising, stress . . . these and many more things can cause a vitamin and/or mineral deficiency of any kind at any point in our lives.

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Deep breathing is how I was diagnosed with Dysautonomia. They hooked me up to an EKG and asked me to take deep controlled breaths and my heartrate was erratic.

There is a blurb on this site about it.

Deep breathing/Paced respirations are tests that evaluate autonomic function by measuring heart rate responses to controlled breathing.
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Oh my - I'd never heard about a controlled breathing exercise for autonomic testing. So maybe the fact that I've never been able to do a controlled breathing exercise was a sign of my trouble way before I knew anything else was wrong? My whole life, if I had to breathe in and then out on a certain count, or even just "watch my breathing" I would almost immediately feel like I couldn't catch my breath or get enough air. This would cause my heart to start pounding and somewhat speed up. Is that kind of thing what is meant by the quote in the post above?

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I didn't read through all the posts, but wanted to let you know that my wife's heart used to stop beating all of the time. That is why they had a pacemaker implanted. Her TTT caused her heart to actually stop each time and it was for an extended period of time. The pacemaker now prevents that from happening. This was attributed to NCS (she wasn't diagnosed with POTS at the time).

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I had controlled breathing tests as part of my autonomic testing the same day I had my TTT ... I hated them. Opus, I could have written your last post. Same thing w/me. Can't do it; makes me feel terrible and like I can't fully inhale or catch a breath whenever I try to do it or even when I simply try to relax and pay attention to my breathing. That's my least favorite part of my yoga class--and now I tend to ignore the teacher and just breathe at my own pace as I move in and out of poses. It may not be "right" but it's all I can do.

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