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AlissaAmy

Feeling like heart stopping in sleep

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I've seen people post about feel as if they're fainting in their sleep. My friend is expressing something similar. She says nights are the worst and scariest. She will wake up multiple times from adrenaline surges if she does fall asleep, and other times during the night she can feel the blood draining from her head, heart feels weak as if it's going to stop, and feels an "impending sense of doom" as if she's dying. This happens every night! Has anyone else experienced anything similar and what has helped???? It doesn't matter what position or side she sleeps on, it always happens. Thank you!

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I experienced this symptom when my POTS was more severe.  Others here have described this too and particularly it happening at night.  My doctors even my specialist regarded it as something separate from POTS and even thought it was likely panic attacks.  I believed for a long time that it was, but I am pretty sure it can be part of the syndrome.

I never found anything that definitively helped at the time.  Over time my symptoms improved.  I did take an SSRI for a few years and that seemed to make my symptoms less severe.  I also took and take a beta blocker.

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I forget to breathe in my sleep, then have nightmares of suffocating. I even bought an oximeter which confirms half the night my oxygen level is 85%. The NHS sleep apnea specialist my GP sent me to puts the low readings down to my having a "sweaty finger".

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I'm sorry that your friend is dealing with this.  I have had almost exactly as you described several times over the years, but never on a nightly basis!  I quite honestly have no idea if mine is anxiety or a POTS thing.  For my occasionally episodes of this, I had a bottle of klonopin by the bed for years.  When I woke up from this, I would take one and go back to sleep for the night.  Since these meds didn't make me sleepy or "off" during waking hours, I have no idea why it helped at night but it did.  It either calmed my anxiety or my nervous system which allowed me to sleep uninterrupted.  She should discuss this with her doctor.  Not getting sleep so often at night is just going to intensify her other symptoms.  Be well.

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Has your friend been diagnosed with dysautonomia? it is important to mention these symptoms to a doctor an get a full cardiac workup. Heart stopping is a heart attack so I am guessing it is something more benign than that.  A lot of symptoms happen which dysautonomia which seem scary, but aren't life threatening.  You get used to them after a while.

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Thank you everyone. Yes, my friend was formally diagnosed with POTS and EDS 4 years ago and has gone down hill badly this last year. She has started to see Dr. Grubb who was amazing and I do believe he will eventually be able to find the right combination of treatments to give her some relief.

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I sometimes wake up from my sleep gasping for air, and with my heart pounding. 

My cardiologist (who diagnosed me with dysautonomia) said it’s from my blood pressure dropping too low in my sleep, so my body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do: Wake me up!  Waking brings my oxygen levels back up. 

Sure enough, he was right. I started taking my blood pressure immediately when waking up this way. In my case, it was simply very, very low blood pressure occuring in my sleep, so my body wakes me up.

At least now when it happens I’m no longer frightened. Just annoyed. 

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I'm on oxygen 2 Liters per minute for this. I have Central Sleep Apnea and Biot's respiration and my oxygen level, they found out during some sleep studies was down below what is safe a large part of the night and they said in addition to stoppages I was also not breathing deeply enough while asleep. Sometimes it happens while awake also. The nighttime oxygen helps alot.

It might be a good idea to have a sleep study. That could be what's going on with you and maybe they can treat it.

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