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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Arrhythmias

Question: MVP, Caffeine, Working out

 kriss76 - Thu Aug 28, 2008 4:01 am

I am a 32 year old female. 5'4" 110lbs. I have been diagnosed with MVP. Both my grandmother and mother have this condition. Lately mine has been becoming increasingly bothersome. My heart will "flutter" causing me to catch my breath and cough-as per usual. But, recently my heart will begin to pound rather hard and it makes me feel weak and lightheaded. This feeling usually only lasts for a moment, but it causes me great anxiety. I definitely notice these symptoms if I have any caffeine at all. I have cut all caffeine out of my diet, but accidentally drank a caffeinated latte yesterday, which may have exacerbated the problem. My blood pressure is always normal and my pulse, even when my heart feels like it's racing and pounding, is usually around 70-95. My questions are these: Could I die from MVP? It frightens me every time I have a MVP episode. Also, not sure if I should go on Beta-Blockers or not. I've always heard "once you start them you will have to always take them". Is this true? I used to work out 3-4 times a week, but now am afraid too, as I think I may cause myself to have a heart attack! I know this is totally silly, but is it ok for me to work out even though I have MVP? How much caffeine is too much? I am a hypochondriac, of sorts, I think; however, this issue really bothers me and is starting to affect my daily life. I also notice MVP episodes if I become really tired or have a lack of sleep. Thank you so much for taking time to possibly answer my questions. I certainly appreciate any advice.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:52 pm

User avatar Hello -

FIrst, you are not being silly. You have a family history of MVP, which is an extremely benign condition, but which carries with it a greater incidence of the sort of arrhythmic episodes than normal (and which are common anyway in the general population, but people with MVP seem to have them more often and react to them with more anxiety in general). The fact is these episodes are so normal and common that the importance of MVP becomes exaggerated beyond its actual significance. Still, it is worth knowing one has it, if only because it helps explain why the episodes occur and why you feel more anxious about them than someone without MVP might (there is no understood reason for this, but MVP and anxiety/panic disorder tend to go hand-in-hand).

Aerobic exercise is actually encouraged for people with MVP, and in most cases this will cause a reduction in the frequency of premature heartbeats and other sensations of palpitation. Caffeine will cause more premature beats in any person, as a rule, and wth MVP the frequency is just that much more likely to increase; caffeine is usually the first thing suggested to reduce. It won't do any harm, but you should be prepared, if you choose to ingest caffeine, to experience more palpitations than you would if you did not. It's as simple as that. It's a stimulant, and usually the first of a series of usual suspects when palpitation is the main complaint. You simply have to decide whether or not you're willing to put up with more palpitations or not vs. caffeine use. Again, it won't do any harm, except to possibly make you more anxious. If you can manage that part, it's ok to drink the occasional coffee or soft drink. Just be aware you'll be more likely to feel some flutters or flip-flops during and for a while afterward.

The fatigue and sleep deprivation factors also hold true for the general population where palpitations are concerned, and are sometimes slightly moreso in people with MVP.

MVP is so common, especially among the female population, that it is considered by some to be a variant of normal. However, people who have MVP Syndrome are inclined to be anxious, consider themselves hypochondriacal (but really usually just more aware of their own somatic sensations such as those palpitations), and often suffer from inexplicable fatigue, although they still tolerate exercise as well as the general population, and benefit from it even more.

I certainly hope this is helpful to you. Please stay in touch with us, especially if you have any further questions. Best of luck to you.
 kriss76 - Wed Sep 03, 2008 4:08 am

Thank you so much for your time and your reply. It is greatly appreciated. I have noticed, that since I have removed caffeine from my diet, the palpitations have decreased. I occassionally forget to order decaf and end up with more frequent palpitations. I appreciate your answer in regards to excercise as well. I plan to return to excercising regularly this week. I used to excercise frequently but have not made time to do so recently, and have been somewhat aprehensive about it also. I will certainly keep you updated on how or if the palpatations decrease, increase etc. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question! Have a wonderful day!
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Sep 05, 2008 10:38 am

User avatar Hello again -

You're very welcome. I'm glad the response was helpful and especially that you've been able to observe the relationship between caffeine and palpitations. As one who has chosen to depend on caffeine to get my energy level up in the morning, I have accepted the annoyance of premature beats myself. It's really just a personal choice, and there was a time when I excluded caffeine in order to get some relief from the sensations it caused.

Exercise is a very important part of keeping everything in balance, so your intention to return to a regular program is also good news. Take it slow at first, mainly so as to not pull any muscles. The most common mistake people make after a hiatus is to plunge back in at the level they were doing before they took time off.

Best of luck to you and please to stay in touch.

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