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06 Jul 2005

Ectopic beats
I am a 24 year old female who has suffered irregular heart beats for that last for between seconds and one or two minutes. They leave me feeling exhasted. During an episode i dont not feel chest pain, it just feels as though i have been thumped in the chest and cannot breathe. Listening to my heart when this occurs, i hear what i think is an ectopic beat. Following this is typically is one huge heart beat, then a racing heart rate follows with my cheeks being flushed. There seems to be nothing associated with the timing it can be at rest and during exercise, anytime of day, not related to foods or stress. Its not regular - weekly/daily occurance - i can go for weeks without anything, then a week with about 5 episodes a day. Family History wise - my mum had coarctation of the aorta and was operated on in her early twenties. Dad is fine. I have had bloods including thyroid and a 24hr ECG both were normal.(unfortunately the episodes didn't occur whilst i was on the ECG!). My resting heart rate is between 80 and 100 bpm and my bp is usually on the low side. I know that ectopic beats are pretty common in young females, but where is the line drawn? and what further routes can i take for further investigations? I am a chiropractor and understand the medical terminology used, so please feel free to go in depth if you want.
Answer 659 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear Sam,

You give a good description of extrasystoles, or ventricular premature beats. Even though you were not able to “capture”them on 24 ECG monitoring, this is probably
the right diagnosis. As you say, they are quite common in young people, though usually more in males. Regardless, there are two main questions to be dealt with:
1. Are there any underlying cardiac abnormalities? and 2. Are the symptoms severe enough to warrant treatment anyway? The answers to these you will need to get from a cardiologist, and he may need to do more extensive ECG testing to give you these answers. A common treatment used is a beta blocker, if there are no contra-indications to its use in you. Anxiolytics are sometimes used, if high stress levels are found to be associated with triggering the problems.

Apart form thyroid problems, which you don’t have, phaeochromocytoma, carcinoid syndrome and systemic mastocytosis could produce the sort of racing pulse and flushing you describe. These are very uncommon syndromes, but warrant investigating if a cardiologist cannot identify (with the tools of his trade, eg ECG’s) or control your symptoms.

I can understand that this would cause you much discomfort, and that you want it investigated. Your best course would be to consult a cardiologist, or at least a specialist physician who has a special interest in cardiology.

Good luck.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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