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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Arrhythmias

Question: irregular heartbeats due to upper body positions

 evolate - Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:58 am

Hello !

im 32 years old, and have no history of deseases.

as many here, i have had some issues with extra heart beats, gotten worried and gotten some tests like ekg, echo, and ekg under workload, every test said im in perfect health.

but, i have now realized that these irregularities occur depending on how my upper body is positioned, if i lie down at night, at my back, and my weight is focused on my left side of my back, i get extra heart beats, so i have to move...
when in the bathtub, leaning on my back, again, if i press against a certain part of my back, i get irregularities, not only extra heart beats, but the ehart can race up and down, beat faster and skip...until i move to another position. sometimes, when i bend down to pick something up, its the same.

i go to the gym alot, i train my upperbody 2 times each musclegroup each week, could it be some kind of nerve thats gotten in a pinch due to muscle growth or something ?

is it dangerous ?

thanks alot
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:10 pm

User avatar Hello --

This isn't as unusual as you might think. Many people are, due to variations in anatomy from one person to the next, more prone to premature beats and even runs or group beating, owing to position. Lying on one side or the other in bed, bending forward at the waist, and stooping or squatting, can often serve as triggers, but this, like everything else involving extrasystoles, will vary from time to time, depending on many trivial factors.

One thing is fairly certain: you haven't brought this about by compressing a nerve. While nerve tissue is certainly involved, it is cardiac nerve tissue which can't be compressed or pinched, but only reacts to internal "touching."

One possible variation on this theme is the possibility of a structural abnormality such as mitral valve prolapse (MVP) or a thickened left ventricle or septum (myocardial hypertrophy, which is often seen in bodybuilders and athletes). To rule out this remote possibility (and the premature beats associated with these things are only incidental, not diagnostic nor more ominous in these settings) you only need an echoardiogram, a non-invasive test that takes 15 or 20 minutes to perform and visualizes the internal structures of the heart. I strongly feel all athletes and fitness buffs should have this done anyway. If it's normal (or not grossly abnormal, since many of us have trivial variations on the basic blueprint) then this is just something that will eventually fade into the background most likely. If it won't there's always beta blocker therapy if it starts to really bother you, but most doctors will try to avoid prescribing anything because it's almost always only to treat something intermittent and inconsequential. Some people will benefit from this, though, because of intense anxiety caused by very frequent premature beats.

I hope this is helpful. The act of position changing in itself isn't harmful but you may feel somewhat inhibited at times. Try to walk through this, if you can, as it will help desensitize the touchy areas. Good luck to you and please follow up with us as needed.
 evolate - Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:06 pm

thanks alot for the hasty and comforting response.

actually i did have an echo a while ago, i guess its the same as ultrasound ?

the doctor said i did not have an enlarged heart, actually he said something about an enlarged other part, left or right something, i cant remember =) but it was something athletes often had, and maybe he was referring to myocardial hypertrophy ?

anyway, when i do get the symptoms described, i just change body position, or turn around abit, stretching my upperbody, and it disappears immediately, and its very comforting to know that its nothing to worry about, because i have had some degree of panic enxiety associated with this problem as well, wich in turn led to more extra heart beats, and irregularities.

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