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Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Random Heart Palpitations


 Gamma - Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:40 pm

I am a 14 (almost 15) year old male. I've been active my entire life. (I'm currently participating in high school cross country and track) Lately, I've had random times where I can feel my heartbeat, but only for one beat, before it goes away. As far as I can tell, there's no trigger or any easily deducible cause. However, I do have a family history of heart disease on my father's side. I also have problems getting to sleep, which could be related to the palpitations.

I am under quite a bit of stress, because I'm balancing 4 AP classes with cross country, so I generally get a maximum sleep time of only 7 hours. However, it takes me a couple hours to get to sleep, and I generally wake up a half hour before my alarm goes off, which is really irritating. I have never done any drugs, alcohol, or nicotine.

Is there a major problem, or am I just a hypochondriac? Thanks!
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:11 pm

User avatar Hi there -- First, you are not a hypchondriac. Okay, then, what you're describing is probably the most common worrisome complaint (even ahead of headaches) in the healthy population, and there's a reason for that: it's a scary sensation. We all have these premature beats, usually premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), sometimes atrial ones (PACs) and even in some people, some other random ones that all pretty much cause the same sensation. They are not, in themselves, dangerous nor are they diagnostic nor predictive of anything. They may occur more in certain types of disease, but this is meaningless because they are caused by so many non-disease things as well, such as (especially in your case) stress, lack of sleep, and anxiety. They also produce anxiety (for obvious reasons) so may cause themselves to increase in frequency because of concern over the rare one that is felt. Occasional ones are not even as annoying as it can get, as there are some people who have these every other beat, all the time. Oddly, they adapt to it more readily than those who have only the occasional one.

Stress,anxiety, sleep deprivation, falling asleep, digestion, caffeine (a biggie), smoking, any stimulant (legal or otherwise), exercise in some people, being still in others, holding one's breath, straining (at stool or lifting something heavy), and just plain slowing of the heart rate as after exercise, are only a few of the innocent causes of premature beats. Some people have a mild anomaly of the mitral valve called mitral valve prolapse (MVP) and these people do tend to have these and other benign arrhythmias even more frequently than the rest, but it still has no significance. The only reason to treat these is if they won't go away on their own and make the patient so anxious as to be unable to function. Then they are treated very conservatively (with beta blocker drugs or anti-anxiety meds). Best left alone, if at all possible, and if they seem extremely frequent or if there are runs of rapid heartbeat that is disruptive of activities, a simple heart checkup can't hurt and often serves to reassure the patient. Nothing wrong with that, and it doesn't make anyone a hypchondriac.

Most people first become aware of these palpitations in the teen years, as there is so much change going on, so many emotions, so many hormones being felt, so much academic and social stress. They are almost always present in all segments of the population, whether healthy or not.

I would venture to guess there is no reason to be even remotely concerned, but if you are really bothered by these and unable to adapt with reassurance, seeing a sympathetic physician (and that's the key here) can often really help, just having someone acknowlege and explain this phenomenon. It's what I've tried to do here. I hope it helps. Please follow up with us here as needed, and maybe try some stress-management techniques such as meditation, deliberate relaxation, or even a re-evaluation of your priorities in order to enjoy life more as the stressors pile up. Good luck to you!
 Gamma - Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:15 am

Thank you for the reply. I have actually found a connection between my palpations and consumption of "energy drinks" such as Monster or Full Throttle. And cross country just ended yesterday, so I should be able to get much more sleep.
 strongontheoutside - Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:00 pm

Hey Gamma,

I too get these palpitations that you are talking about. I think I was slightly older than you when they started and I'm now 25 and still getting them in waves, especially when I am stressed. I am still trying to learn how to deal with them but I find that if I just let them go and don't think about it they will go away over time. I'm also a pretty stressed out and busy person (I'm going to university and I'm an officer in the army) but I find that if I just move on and try to enjoy life that they do improve.

Hope things go better for you in the future :-)

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