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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Arrhythmias

Question: PVCs, pregnancy, chest pain and burning, dizziness

 precioustoJesus - Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:44 am


I have had PVCs (not diagnosed till last week) for about 1 1/2 years now and they were like a boom-boom deep in my chest that hurts. Sometimes I got 10 in a day, other times none for weeks, other times of stress they could have been 5 in a row almost. It seemed that stress, coffee and overwork made them worse.

I became pregnant, now 4 1/2 months and had an influenza infection type 2 then a bacterial infection which I caught from my daughter (she got it at school). Once I recovered and got a week of having some energy (due to second trimester starting) I worked hard and drank 2 mugs of coffee a day, plus some chocolate or sometimes a glass or 2 of coca-cola. Then I started to have these things like 30 a day and not just the beats, but I got pain in the chest, burning, burning the left hand instantly with a headache and dizziness after each strong beat. I had other beats that were not strong and would not hurt, those were ok to manage. Sometimes after eating I feel palpitations, but palpitations can come anytime really. I have been more breathless as well but that could be from anxiety over the PVCs and from pregnancy. I have also felt sometimes burning on the left leg and some strange feeling like bubbles moving down the leg, as if a vein was in contractions, which made me concerned about a potential clot? (never had them before).

I started to have what they call premature ventricular contractions or skipped beats, ectopic beats (they called them PVCs at emergency last Friday as they could see them on the monitor - been there 2 times now, once with 80 PVCs in a few hours - I am talking about felt ones, 7 in a minute was the worst).

So recently in the last few weeks I got instant chest pain, burning on the chest and under on the length of my right arm and hand to the last 2 fingers, tingling, sometimes numbness, sometimes either the veins in the left leg were twitching or the muscles not sure exactly, it felt like bubbles moving along the leg. I had also dizziness, ears getting blocked with pressure and popping, and just got so weak when I got these things it took 30 minutes sometimes to recover well from one beats. They are like forceful boom-boom beats in the chest that really hurt, other times I can feel them but they don't heart. Also the blood pressure went up after these beats, which they were recording at the hospital on some monitor. I had 4 days ago 90 with 50 - when I did not have an of these beats and on Friday night when I had 80 had 120/80. Pulse rate would go down for a few seconds when I had the beats then go back up to about 88.

They checked heart enzymes, nothing wrong there, checked levels of iron, calcium, potassium, all ok. Now I have to go for an electrocardiogram and a holter monitor soon. They really scared me though. From Friday on I had a few every day and palpitations, some chest pain and burning still and breathlessness alright. Today I am better, only a bit of chest pain, tightness and burning on the left arm because I already had about 5 beats. The doctors don't know why I get the extra chest pain, etc symptoms, but they come instantly after the beats and they say I am too young for that. They think maybe some problem in the electrical circuit of the heart, but not sure, I have to see a cardiologist. I have been so weak and sometimes just walking around the house brought them on, let alone other activities.

They say at the hospital they cannot do anything about it since I am pregnant and medication would pass to the baby. So I thought of asking you the following:

1. Are these PVCs dangerous if they come with these symptoms, the people at hospital said I don't need to worry except if they come in runs.

2. Can this be a blood clot, given the bubbling feeling in my leg?

3. Can anything be done after pregnanct?

I have heard that magnesium is pretty good, especially liquid magnesium to stop these, like 500 - 600 mg, but not sure it if it safe during pregnancy or in what amount to take? Can Vit C powder or B vitamins help? If you know of something that I could safely take, please let me know. It has been rather impairing on my life as even a little walk lately has stirred them up to come on, even sometimes walking around the house!

I have just moved house recently, so that could be a factor of extra effort
(I had these beats about 30 a day for 2 weeks but then after I dropped the coffee only 5 in 2 weeks, so I work hard to pack the house, now we are moved to Slacks Creek - opposite to Springwood on the south side), but today even just walking through the house when I sat down on a chair to rest it got them started. I have observed that when I sat down to rest after doing maybe half a day of work got them started recently, but before they were coming rather randomly, working or not. I have had about 30 maximum in a day about 4 weeks ago and then stopped coffee, had 5 in 2 weeks and then moved house and had 25 in 2 hours and then 80 the next day (been to emergency once for having 16 in 1 1/2 minutes and then another time for 7 in a minute and 80 in total in a few hours). Yesterday was only a few, today about 4 before 9 am. As you can imagine, not been able to be active with a five year old is not exactly the best combination :-).
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:05 pm

User avatar Hi there -- First, the PVCs by themselves are not important nor are they diagnostic of anything. This is difficult for some people to believe because they seem so unpleasant and can cause anxiety which only leads to more of them happening. Actually the numbers of them you've mentioned are not even impressive. Some people have a "normal" rhythm where every other beat is a PVC (which would, given an average of 72 beats per minute, mean more than 50,000 PVCs in 24 hours! And still it means nothing. They can be more frequent with certain conditions, but they are not dangerous in themselves, and it is difficult to connect them to these conditions because they occur anyway at varying rates of frequency in almost everyone.

The burning pains you experience may be a thing peculiar to you, and PVCs can sometimes be painful, depending upon the timing of them. However, pain down the arm is unusual enough that this should be looked at more closely, although it may indicate a problem with the ulnar nerve rather than directly involving the heart, which seems to be in pretty good shape. It is also important to note that caffeine is a major aggravator of PVCs, and if a given person has them to start with, that person will have more PVCs by way of caffeine use. The choice then is presented as to whether or not a given person is willing to tolerate additional PVCs in exchange for the benefits of caffeine.

The sensation in your leg doesn't sound like what is typically felt when a clot is present, but it is unusual and worthy of at least a doppler ultrasound exam just to rule out the possibilty of a clot, since you are pregnant and this increases slightly your risk of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Your pregnancy also can increase the incidence and noticeability of PVCs because of the progressive crowding of the heart by structures in the abdomen. This is normal, as is increasing fatigue and other changes.

As for magnesium, while it is generally not a bad supplement to take, during pregnancy I would avoid anything that's not medically prescribed, regulated and understood. This won't help with the PVCs much even in a non-pregnant person, though there is some unscientific suggestion it may. After pregnancy the PVCs should start to lessen in frequency and if they remain a problem annoying enough to still seek help, beta blocker therapy is sometimes employed for people who have a hard time tolerating the palpitations caused by them, but it's usually better to avoid adding medications if they can be avoided.

My only real concerns are the burning pain in the ulnar aspect of your arm along with the PVCs, although I suspect this is a unique thing due to your personal anatomy; and the sensations in your leg, which can be cleared up with that doppler ultrasound exam. Other than these, you might consider avoiding caffeine til after the baby is born.

Good luck to you, I hope this helps clear things up for you, and please do follow up with us here as needed.

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