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Question
Posted by: Cheri | 2011/09/12

Ventricular premature beat

I am a 36 year old healthy female. I don''t smoke. I drink one or two units of alcohol weekly. I have one cup of coffee each morning.

I started having heart palpitations about three years ago. I was going though a stressful time. My GP did an ECG and told me it was a ventricular premature beat. It feels like my heart beats, then misses a beat and then I feel a big beat. Now two years on I still have palpitations regularly (at the moment every evening, always when relaxing). I''m going through a huge amount of stress: my husband left after I discovered he''d had a long term affair, I''m going through a difficult divorce and have three small children. I was taking half a Cipralex a day but my GP suggested I increase to one a day when I mentioned my regular and disconcerting heart palpitations. I increased a week ago and no difference (of anything...more regular palpitations).

I have between 3 and 6 irregular beats per minute. Usually one is followed closely by a second (within 8-12 beats). I can live with it but it''s a horrible feeling. Like the feeling you get in your tummy on a rollercoaster...except in my chest. I an clearly feel it if I take my pulse. I have no other symptoms with the palpitations.

Is there anything I can do. Should I have another ECG? My last was nearly 2 1/2 years ago. My doctor mentioned beta blockers but I''m not sure what they do / if they''re necessary / if it''s better to do nothing...? I''m having surgery (fractured sesamoid removed) in a few weeks and worried about my heart

Thanks for your advice

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCardiologist

Hi Cheri.

I'm sorry to hear about your problems, but at least we can be confident your heart problem is not nearly as bad as it may seem.

What you describe sounds exactly like ventricular premature beats, which are very common even in people with otherwise perfectly normal hearts.

They are usually more of a nuisance than a real problem, and in young healthy people are invariably benign. There will be no problem when you have surgery for your fractured sesamoid.

The difficulty with VPB's is that there is no simple effective treatment. Beta blockers in my experience seldom work, but may be worth trying as they are harmless drugs.

I do not think one is justified in using more powerful drugs for such a benign condition as the risk of taking such potent drugs is usually higher than their potential benefit.

My usual advice is to do nothing, since the condition is benign and is likely to disappear spontaneously with time, especially once the stresses in your life get better. Another ECG will do no harm but will not cast new light on the problem.

VPB's are uncomfortable and irritating, but harmless. I would try to live with them and give them more time to go away, but if they really become intolerable by all means see a cardiologist, preferably one with an interest in electrphysiology.

I hope they get better soon!

Best wishes

JT

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Our users say:
Posted by: Cardiologist | 2011/09/14

Hi Cheri.

I'm sorry to hear about your problems, but at least we can be confident your heart problem is not nearly as bad as it may seem.

What you describe sounds exactly like ventricular premature beats, which are very common even in people with otherwise perfectly normal hearts.

They are usually more of a nuisance than a real problem, and in young healthy people are invariably benign. There will be no problem when you have surgery for your fractured sesamoid.

The difficulty with VPB's is that there is no simple effective treatment. Beta blockers in my experience seldom work, but may be worth trying as they are harmless drugs.

I do not think one is justified in using more powerful drugs for such a benign condition as the risk of taking such potent drugs is usually higher than their potential benefit.

My usual advice is to do nothing, since the condition is benign and is likely to disappear spontaneously with time, especially once the stresses in your life get better. Another ECG will do no harm but will not cast new light on the problem.

VPB's are uncomfortable and irritating, but harmless. I would try to live with them and give them more time to go away, but if they really become intolerable by all means see a cardiologist, preferably one with an interest in electrphysiology.

I hope they get better soon!

Best wishes

JT

Reply to Cardiologist

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