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Forum Name: Arrhythmias

Question: Jolts, Shocks, fluttering in chest...scaring me a lil bit...


 mindxpander - Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:05 pm

Hi, I'm 26 years old, generally healthy. When i was a teen i was diagnosed with anxiety/depression/ocd. It has been a decade now and throughout those years i have usually expereinced a shocking, fluttering or jolting sensation in my chest area. These started out when i was still in high school and when i was falling asleep during math (no joke). As i was dosing off, i would feel a jolt in my chest that was enough to startle me and make me sit up abruptly. The first time it happend it scared the living heck out of me. But after a while i felt them but paid them no mind. These past weeks my anxiety has shot up due to a little health scare of diverticulitis that i was diagnosed with. with this fresh new anxiety these jolts are back and stronger. When i get these shocks or jolts they make my body jump, sometimes takes my breath, i get dizzy and sometimes the shock will radiate to my arms, legs, head. These shocks get worse with more anxiety which they tend to cause...but they also happen with sudden movements, things that startle you, turning your head etc. Since this time around they are making me dizzy, it is worrying me.

I'm afraid i'm going to pass out and or my heart just stop working. Since i do have anxiety problems it doesnt help the situation...so i don't know if the dizzy feeling is coming from the jolts or from hyperventilation. I scheduled a appt with a cardiologist on Monday 09/22. Should i be worried? is this life threatening?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:29 pm

User avatar Hello -

What you describe sounds very much like acutely-felt premature heartbeats, probably premature ventricular contractions. While some people don't feel them at all, others feel them profoundly and are startled the way you are. They can feel like a little flick of flutter sometimes, while at other times they can feel almost like a kick in the chest. It can be very disconcerting. They are almost always innocent and benign, and almost never have any diagnostic or prognostic significance at all, even when they are frequent. The fact is some people have them all the time and are totally unaware of them, while others have them occasionally but feel each one exquisitely. There is no correlation between the sensation and the "severity" of them.

Many things can cause them or aggravate them, and one of the top causes is anxiety. As you've already figured out, they not only can be caused by anxiety, but anxiety can cause them, so it becomes, for some, a vicious cycle. They also occur frequently when falling asleep, which would help explain why this would happen when you were dozing in class. They happen a lot following meals, too, and are aggravated as well by nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, fatigue, sleep deprivation, lying on one's left side, and the list goes on for pages. The important thing to know is that they are almost never of any importance, although it is very wise to have this evaluated by a cardiologist in order to help put your mind at ease.

I might mention also that many people who have mitral valve prolapse (MVP) have these more often than other people, and are more aware of them. They also are more prone to anxiety and a few other symptoms such as lightheadedness, faintness, fatigue, migraines, etc. While MVP is also almost always benign, the symptoms can make some people feel as though they are losing their mind. Knowing if this is what's going on can help a great deal.

In any case, I'm pretty sure you'll find your cardiology workup will help put your mind at ease.

Please let us know how your appointment went. Best of luck to you.
 Kevt242008 - Wed May 20, 2009 4:05 pm

hi i'm having a hard time dealing with what i can only describe as thump like butterflies in my middle to upper chest, it seems similar to what John was saying. They last only a second or two but begin to scare me and i've went to my gp and she only wants to reasure me that heart skips are normal. i get these skipped beats/ flutters regularly and notice them more profoundly when i am under stress or feeling anxious. One other time i suffer really badly from them is when i'm trying to sleep, i'll dose off and suddenly i'll get a jolt right through my chest and i have toforce myself awake and take a deep breath in. I am really scared about these, and my gp just won't listen to me when i say they are bothering me and becoming more frequent. I'm on beta blockers at the moment to try and help calm down my symptoms of anxiety, it is only the first day of taking the beta blockers and i have noticed the flutters more frequent today, but i was wondering if anyone could possibly give me some help/support, i really cannot find the will power now to cope with all this (maybe because all my will power went into giving up smoking nearly 4 months ago - smoker of 6 years) and i feel i'm being thrown down a 20 foot pit with no escape. If anyone could advise on possible approaches on how to deal with this or speak to someone proffessional i would be greatful thank you.
 xmr11rmx - Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:28 pm

Ive had the same thing start happening a couple months ago..right when a bunch of stressful things happend at once...

I too have a history of anxiety but cannot afford the medication atm

I have have an echo cardiogram(10 years ago) and several ekg's in my lifetime..they always show normal..

Last night especially bad after drinking some wine and had a stressful day awaiting..I had this occur all night as I am about to fall asleep..a flick sensation in my chest..thats goes away immediatly apon waking..

I am so glad to hear the possible causes and that anxiety can in fact play a role

Glad to know I am not alone!
and you are not alone!

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