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Thread: Shortness of breath and "jittery" heart

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    California
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    Default Shortness of breath and "jittery" heart

    OK, so maybe this is all in my head...
    I left the forums so I could get back and focus on my lesson plans for tomorrow. Went out to my car to grab my rolling crate that has my textbook and planbook, and then came back feeling short of breath. The car is out in our apartment's parking lot...not a long haul, but I did feel tired and my crate is not that heavy.
    I've been feeling short of breath off and on for several months (even before my last check-up in December) and my heart's been jittery. Lately even having a little bit of coffee or chocolate sends my heart racing. My husband says the uncertainty of what might result after the TEE has made me nervous. I think so, too, but I think also there may be more to it. I know my Dr. said my valve's as OK as a reguritating valve can be, but I'm wondering if I oughta mention the shortness of breath and "heart jitters" at my follow-up.
    Thanks,
    Debbie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
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    Default

    Always mention things like this to them and let them decide if it's important or not. It could be nerves, but I doubt it, I'll bet it's valve related.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    California
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    Default

    My mom attended the TEE with me. She said the test only lasted about 15 minutes and my cardiologist told her that I wouldn't need valve replacement until "robots will be performing surgery." Ross, I believe on my last post a couple weeks ago you said that cardiologists like to wait until there's severe damage to the valve. I don't know, but something just doesn't sit right with me...maybe I've just been expecting there to be something wrong and now that everything is OK, it doesn't seem right. You're right though, I should tell my Dr. about it. Back to work with me!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Louisiana
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    117

    Default Please let them know

    Hi Deb.,
    I had the same experience yesterday and was sent to the emergency room in an ambulance. Let me assure you that I was asymptomatic a week ago, but went downhill quickly after my cath. procedure on Monday of this week. There is something about them telling you that you have to have the valve replaced and recognizing that you indeed have the symptoms. I have a bad aortic valve with regurgitation. The surgeon told me that I could finish teaching this semester if I wanted to. I thought I was in big trouble last night. Be sure to take it easy until the surgery. I'm a teacher as well and I've decided that i won't finish out the semester even though I was convinved that I could 3 days ago. I'm afraid of having a symptom attack of sorts in class. The students didn't pay to see that stuff. Don't mess around with this. My best advice if you have another episode like that is to relax and don't let the symptoms drive you into a panic attack. But, don't be afraid to go to the emergency room. You'll hit all of the out of pocket limits this year when you have the surgery, so just go.

  5. #5
    McCln Guest

    Default

    It is better that you do mention this shortness of breathe and jittery heartbeat. It could be something like nerves or something else. Something is not right and you need it checked out as soon as you can. Call the cardio tomorrow morning and let them know what you have been experiencing and how long. Good luck and keep us posted.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Oregon
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    3,623

    Default Hello.

    Hi Debbie. We do not have the same condition. Mine is aortic bicuspic with moderate stenosis. I urge you to speak with your doctor also. It will bring you peace of mind and clearer understandings.

    That said, I just thought I'd relay my latest situation/frustration so you can compare. 2 months ago I started having the jittery heart you speak of all the time. For years, now, it has just been occuring at scary movies (I'm a wuss!), times of heightened stress or really intense sports events! To feel it all the time started driving me nuts! I went to my GP, she heard a skipped beat, did an EKG, found PVCs and sent me to my cardio for an echo and assessment. The cardio (Stanford educated) put me on Atenolol (tenormin) and had a listen. In my case, she is still hearing what she wants to hear and says the PVC's are nothing to worry about. She concurs that caffeine is a culprit (along with spicy foods and stress). Strangely, she says, every year she get volumes of complaints from November through March about arythmias. She wonders if it is the chocolate, rich diet and stress of the season!

    I am still not feeling right. I am going to start another thread about the arythmmias, hopefully our "new" nurse will add to my knowledge. I just don't feel like I understand them well enough.

    I guess what I hope to relay here is that you really need to find a cardiologist who you can trust. I went round and round with this one, and she point blank asked me if I was going to decide to trust her. I decided to. This meant letting go of my feeling of control, something my personality is not used to doing! You're a teacher (I'm an elementary substitute). You plan your days to be in control! This is something new, having to let someone else be in control. And you are dealing with some new information that is way out of your league! It's tough to find a happy medium. Hard to budge one iota on the control level and have an educated trust of your doctor. Perhaps you need to try another doctor. Just for a second opinion. This is my second cardio (well, since the stenosis reared its ugly head -- I've known about my BAV for 25 years) and even though it is frustrating (I want it done yesterday!!) I am very VERY glad that I changed to her. In my case, I have time to build this relationship. Not everyone is so lucky.

    I feel like I've babbled, here, but I was hoping to help. Let us know what your cardio has to say.

    Good luck!

    Marguerite
    AVR 4/18/06, age 52. Bovine tissue. CE Perimount RSR Model 2800. 23 mm. BAV diagnosed age 27(1981). Moderate stenosis (1.0 cm) 9/03; severe stenosis (.7cm) 12/05, Aortic measure at surgery 4/06, critical (.53 cm)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    North Alabama
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    Debbie,

    By all means you need to tell your Doctor (preferably your cardiologist) about your shortness of breath and "jittery heart", especially that caffeine in the form of chocolate and coffee trigger your symptoms.

    Based on personal experience, I can attest that even the smallest amount of caffeine would trigger 'irregular' heartbeats which turned out to be Premature Atrial Contractions (PAC's) for the most part. Another possibility is Atrial Fibrilation (A-Fib) which is characterized by a rapid (>120 BPM) and irregular heart beat. There are medications that can control these events. Most likely, your cardio will want you to wear a heart monitor of some type to properly identify what type of arrhythmia you are having.

    I was able to control my PAC's with a low dose Beta Blocker (Toprol XL) for several years. Later, I started developing A-Fib on upon exertion and had to change medications to one that specifically targets A-Fib (Betapace or the generic form - Sotalol). PAC's and PVC's are the 'common cold of cardiology' and are not usually considered 'dangerous'. Persistent A-Fib can cause blood clots if not controlled so it is important to have this checked out and properly medicated.

    Call your cardiologist ASAP and hold the caffeine.

    'AL Capshaw'

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    North Alabama
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    Default

    Debbie,

    I forgot to mention that any type of heart arrhythmia (irregular and/or rapid heartbeat) can make you feel quite weak and even short of breath.

    One possible cause of these arrhythmias is ENLARGEMENT of the heart which disrupts the normal 'path' and 'timing' of the electrical stimulus that triggers normal heart rhythm. I recommend that you obtain copies of ALL of your echocardiograms. Look at the 'chamber dimensions' to see if any of them are changing. That is one of the indicators for surgery to prevent further (permanent) damage to the heart muscles and walls.

    You may want to get a second opinion from a SURGEON about the timing for your surgery. Surgeons like to operate BEFORE there is permanent damage to the heart. Cardiologists often like to postpone surgery as long as possible. This position is SLOWLY changing as more recognition is coming to light about the long term damage from waiting too long and the fact that Heart Surgery has a VERY HIGH success rate which improves even more with EARLY intervention.

    'AL Capshaw'

  9. #9
    Karlynn Guest

    Default

    Deb,
    As others have said, definately run it by your doctor.

    I would also suggest having your TEE reviewed by a cardiac surgeon. As we've said, cardio's tend to like to wait past the point of permanent damage. Surgeon's like to get in there before damage is done. If the surgeon says you have time to wait, then I think you can feel more comfortable with that. 2nd opinions are always good.

    Not all symptoms from MVP or MVR mean that you are ready for surgery. A little shortness of breath (SOB) and palpitations can go along with the valve disease. But it's always good to get it checked out.

    Make sure you continue with regular appointments. Even though your Dr. said you won't be having surgery until robots do it, we have people here who have been told surgery is 5 years off and then progress so rapidly that they get it in 6 months. That's not to scare you, just to keep you mindful.

    Remember - this is a highly fixable issue you have. If it comes down to surgery, it will be very successful, I'm sure.

    Try to eliminate caffiene as much as possible too.

  10. #10
    Nan Guest

    Default

    Hi, I agree, you should mention it to your doctor asap. As someone else said, it could also be atrial fibrillation or another arrythmia which may need treatment. If it happens again, not a bad idea to go to ER so they can actually see what is happening at the time it is happening!

    HOpe you feel better soon.

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