Medical Specialty >> Cardiology

Doctors Lounge - Cardiology Answers

Back to Cardiology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: 19 yr old female; re-occuring heart palpitations, short brea

 fpuub - Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:28 pm

I am a healthy, 19 year old girl, with a healthy body, low blood pressure, average cholesterol, and am 5'3" and weigh 135 pounds. I have always participated in sports.

About 3 weeks ago, I was sitting on my bed one night, browsing the internet. All of the sudden I felt tenseness and unease in my sternum. I assumed maybe it was acid reflux, having never had experienced acid reflux or heard burn before, from a nice turkey dinner I had two hours before. The tightness in my sternum increased so much that I wandered down to my parents bathroom where the ant-acid is, took two tablets, and went back up stairs to go to sleep. At that point I laid down to go to sleep, and the pressure in my sternum was becoming to much, I kept wiggling around thinking another position would ease the pressure. That's when my heart started beating out of control, going from one second calm, to the next beating rapidly, and so violently I could feel it completely when I placed my hand over my chest. Never, after all my years of soccer, cheerleading, and tennis, have I had my heart beat that HARD. That is when my breathing became restrained, the tips of my left fingers and toes started tingling, and I felt on the verge of passing out. I was too nervous to walk down the flight of stairs, for fear of fainting, and honestly, I'm not sure if I would have been able to move from my sitting on my bed position with my hand over my heard if I wanted to, because at this point my heart sharply hurt. I used my phone to call my parents, and they came rushing up stairs. I was afraid I was having some freak heart attack, and I could barely speak I was so out of breath, and so my parents called the police. While we were waiting for the police, my mom made me take some deep breaths, which hurt incredibly bad, and then cough a few times. At that point, my heart started to slow down, become less violent, and my breathing started to return to normal. And then my heart skipped a beat and it started racing again. At that point my parents had me chew some aspirin. By the time the police arrived, my heart had calmed down again, so they took me to the hospital.

In the hospital, they monitored my heart, discovering that my electrolytes were slightly low, and after having my blood drawn, and waiting for the results, it turned out my potassium was very low. But other than that, my blood came back well, and after xraying my heart, they said it looked fine as well. But they did not give me a Echocardiography which my family practitioner was upset about the next day when she found out they didn't give me one. They sent me off with the the advice of eating things with more potassium and drinking electrolyte enhance water. My heart was tired for a couple days at that point, feeling slightly tense like a muscle that I had exercised too hard.

A week later, I have been following their advice perfectly. A banana every day for breakfast, a couple bottles of smart water, everything was going fine. Then I was sitting in me be again, when all the sudden my heart started racing, and my breathing became labored. I coughed a few times, took an aspirin, and my heart returned to normal.

A few days later I had another bad episode, while I was out walking with my friends. My heart clenched up then started beating rapidly, and then my breathing became more labored that it did the first time, although my heart was less severe this time. I took some aspirin right away, and coughed a few times, but it took a while for my breathing to return to normal, and my heart to calm down.

Is anyone able to make sense of this?
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Mon Jun 28, 2010 12:10 am

Hello fpuub,

You have certainly had some frightening experiences with your symptoms! You noted that your doctor was concerned that there had not been an echocardiogram - did she order one? Have you had a cardiac workup to rule out any functional problems? If not, discuss it with your doctor so that it can be arranged. Another factor is that replacing extremely low potassium through potassium-rich foods and drinks can be too slow to address an acute problem. Low potassium could certainly contribute to the symptoms that you describe. There's a possibility of associated panic episodes in response to the symptoms, although that would not be my first guess. The important thing is to identify what is causing your symptoms, and that can only be done through complete evaluation. Please talk with your doctor again, with that in mind. I also recommend that you start and maintain a record of your symptoms, noting the date, time, symptoms and their duration, and what you were doing at the time the symptoms occurred. That will help your doctor determine if there is a particular pattern, which can be helpful in arriving at an accurate diagnosis.

Good luck to you.

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us