Be Still, my Beating Heart. 

So, something odd has been going on with my heart lately. Every time I have a nap, which is pretty often these days, I wake up with a crazy racing heart. I’ve a heart rate monitor app on my phone, so I’m pretty in tune with my heart rate. My heart seems to beat a bit faster than average, usually the slowest it ever is is 75bpm (beats per minute), with ‘normal’ being 60-100. My ‘sitting up resting’ is about 85. If I go up a flight of stairs it spikes to 120. And after 10 mins of standing up, it can reach 130, which may be indicative of POTS

But this is different. It ONLY happens during daytime naps. And my heart rate reaches over 200bpm. And usually falls back down to the mid-70s in less than a minute. My doctor thinks maybe my heart is beating fast in between times, without me noticing, and making me tired, hence the increased need for naps. That’s certainly possible. I’m on a waiting list for a Holter monitor, to see what’s going on. But I could be waiting a long time. Plus the monitor will only pick up an ‘event’ if it happens within the 24 hours I’ll be wearing it for. So, I must make sure to take a nap that day. 

She also said that if my heart rate doesn’t fall back down to 130 within an hour, I’m to rush straight to the ER. But with a record number of ER patients on hospital trolleys, including right now my 87 year old mother-in-law, I’d rather not. 

My best guess for what’s going on is that it’s Supraventricular tachycardia. Which is only fatal in the rarest of cases. Mainly it’s more of a nuisance than anything else. I get chest pains and dizziness, but nothing I can’t get used to! Plus I’m a bit more tired than usual. 

So, that explains why my blog posts are getting further apart!

And here, for your perusal, is a screenshot of the second ever ‘episode’ I had, which I took to show my doctor. I am in the habit of checking my HR before I go to sleep and when I wake up. My heart rate was fine before the nap, around 9.30 am. And back to normal one minute after the ‘episode’. But look at the number at 10.33 am!

[ image of a screenshot from a heart rate measuring app on my iPhone called Argus. Various heart rates are shown in red, with their corresponding dates and times in black. The relevant measurements are from December 17th, 2013. At 9.28, the heart rate is 76bpm. At 10.33 it shows a heart rate of 208 bpm. By 10.34 it has fallen back down to 79 bpm. ]

  

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6 thoughts on “Be Still, my Beating Heart. 

  1. I had a friend in high school that had to go to the ER due to what was apparently a “ripped adrenal gland” he frequently ingested copious amounts of caffeine. As such, he ended up in the ER one night because he said whenever he went to (or tried to) sleep, adrenaline would seemingly course through his body and his heart rate would increase massively.

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      1. I don’t think that is such an odd reaction, as I have heard many people state the same and I used to be the same. My mom used to say how as a baby/toddler she would give me coffee or soda to fall asleep…I don’t know if she was joking! One of the reasons I have heard before though is it’s effect on blood vessels and how whatever state one is in, it can cause the opposite sort of effect. I was thinking though for you it wasn’t necessarily caffeine, but on the broader subject of the nervous system. Sounds like your “fight or flight”, is perhaps being kicked in at a time in which it normally wouldn’t. Such as all anxiety disorders I suppose. For myself I have noticed recently my lack of ability to “calm down” my brain and that when asleep it seems light, and like my heart beat doesn’t quite slow, nor does my mind so much. As such I am going to be looking into it more as to what I could possibly be doing that is leading up to that and what I can do to help lessen it.

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      2. I don’t find that such an odd reaction at all. I have heard various experiences as such and the reasons behind it. One being that it is due to the effect on blood vessels/ blood flow and whatever state one is in, it puts you in the opposite. My mom used to say that when I was a baby/ toddler, she would give me coffee or soda to go to sleep…I don’t know if she was joking!

        In your context though I wasn’t thinking necessarily caffeine, but rather the nervous system. It seems like your “fight or flight” is kicking in at a time in which it should not be/ does not actually benefit you; such as with any anxiety disorder perhaps. I myself have noted how I have been able to sleep less soundly, that I feel like my heart is beating pretty hard, or just not slowing down as I sleep and my brain is kind of just “on” the whole time, and jumps up from the time I wake up. I’m going to be looking into it further to find what it is I am doing that is perhaps contributing to it and what I can then do to lessen it as such.

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  2. I have tachycardia. Started when I was very young. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic. At first they thought it was night terrors. But later realized it was my heart beating so fast that woke me up and made me shaky and anxious. We had the ambulance called to our house many times. They were able to record the episodes on an ekg and print it out for my doctors to review. It just became something that would happen every once in awhile. I avoided caffeine when I became a teen and adult because that seemed to trigger it. I haven’t had an episode in 13 years. But gosh, I remember how scary they could be. I meet with genetics in two days to look at getting tested for eds, then I will move on to POTS. Hopefully you get answers. Feel as better as you can.

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