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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Heart palpitations and mild back discomfort

 rapidrabbit11 - Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:07 pm

I have what I think are occasional heart palpitations. My heart seems to flutter for a second and then is normal. Almost like when someone gets a rush of adrenaline. I also have been having very mild upper back discomfort. (It is more prevalent the more I think about it.)

I have had two EKGs (one Feb 1, one Feb 22) and one chest x-ray. All normal. Also, I have had two rounds of bloodwork done. All normal. When three different doctors have listened to my heart it is in a normal pattern.

I have used a stethescope to listen at minutes at a time and hear nothing that seems unusual.

I am a 27 years old female, do cardio. exercise 6 days a week, eat very healthy, and have no history of cardiac problems, and low cholesterol (high good, low bad). Non smoker and drinker.

Should I be concerned about these heart palpitations? Do they indicate a heart attack or something?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:43 pm

User avatar Hello -

Palpitations such as you describe are most often premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). These are actually normal and the most common heartbeat irregularity. Sometimes, to a lesser extent, we may also see premature atrial beats (PACs) or even premature junctional beats (PJCs). None are serious and PVCs are not of any diagnostic or prognostic value. They definitely are not associated with heart attacks. Although they can occur during heart attacks they also occur during health and normal activities. They are more common at rest, and especially at bedtime or when resting, when lying on one's left side, and after meals. They are exacerbated by caffeine, nicotine, antihistimines, and, in some people, by getting up and moving around after a quiet period. So they, alone, are not important, but they often, if percieved by the subject, can be the cause of a lot of anxiety, which of course is one more potential cause of PVCs. This last is the worst, because even though they are harmless and normal, they seem to come and go randomly at times, and if the patient can feel them they are hard to ignore. Some people become extremely worried about them, and then of course they have even more.

The discomfort in your upper back is a concern if only because it is pain and pain is a way of knowing something isn't right. Since you would seem, by history, physical exam and healthy habits to be very healthy in general and specifically as regards your heart, the upper back discomfort may be a postural issue. This is becoming more common the more people spend time in front of a computer. Just a thought. Something that would be helpful to know is whether or not the upper back pain comes on or is worse during exercise. In any case, if it causes enough discomfort it's probably worth a look. As for your heart, I would guess you are in excellent cardiac health.

It's interesting to note that some people have PVCs (and/or PACs) all the time and don't even know they are happening. Others have just one every once in a while but feel every one. It's not a choice, it's just the way we are wired. When you are able to feel them they are hard to miss, but it's important to not pay them too much attention if possible (this is not always easy). They won't do any harm, but the anxiety they can cause can actually be crippling to some people.

I hope this has been helpful. Please do keep in touch.

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