How Can I Avoid Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia?

Coffee and other caffeinated substances can aggravate paroxysmal atrial tachycardia.
Deep breathing may help to relieve paroxysmal atrial tachycardia.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 July 2014
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Paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT) is a condition that causes the heart to suddenly beat too quickly, resulting in “runs” of very fast heartbeats. The condition can be due to a couple of conditions: a pre-existing surgery for heart defects, tissue in the heart that causes it to short circuit, pregnancy and thyroid disease. Alternately it may have no known cause. When the cause is clear, it may be difficult to avoid paroxysmal atrial tachycardia without medication or surgical intervention, but when the cause can’t be identified, there are some ways to reduce or stop fast heartbeat episodes. Further, in most cases, some things can help you stop a run of quick heartbeats while they are occurring.

There are definitely some things to abstain from when you want to avoid paroxysmal atrial tachycardia. Caffeine, for instance, tends to aggravate the condition and causes more arrhythmia episodes. Caffeine intake should be limited or completely eliminated from the diet. Don’t just skip coffee but likewise tea, sodas, and chocolate. You should especially read labels on sodas to make sure they don’t contain any caffeine.

Alcohol is a trigger, particularly when consumed in excess. If you want to avoid paroxysmal atrial tachycardia, you need to cut most alcohol out of your diet too. People who drink heavily are most prone to the condition, so it may help to cut down. Yet even the person who only drinks occasionally may find an upsurge of in PAT episodes after drinking.

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High stress is a known factor for frequent PAT episodes. You may not be able to eliminate all stress in your life, but it helps to eliminate what you can. Talking to a good therapist, learning meditation, and getting daily simple exercise like walking can all help avoid paroxysmal atrial tachycardia episodes occurring frequently.

Some people experience PAT episodes that can last for several hours at a time. This can be daunting and frightening. There are a few things that can be done to help stop a quick heartbeat. First, try not to panic, since stress over the event will only prolong it. Try to get into a deep breathing mode if possible, and remind yourself that the episode will pass.

You can try going to the bathroom and having a bowel movement. This often stops a PAT episode. Many people use neck massage, (have your physician teach you), especially of the carotid artery to help slow fast heartbeats. Others report that bathing the face in ice water assists in stopping an episode. It should be noted that any method you try should be done under a doctor’s advice and guidance, and that first the condition should be appropriately diagnosed by a cardiologist or electrophysiologist.

In some cases the only way to avoid paroxysmal atrial tachycardia is through medications or through a surgery called cardiac ablation. When an episode can’t be stopped by the above methods, it’s a good idea to head to the doctor, especially if the rapid beats have gone on for several hours. An injection of the medication adenosine can usually help slow down the rapid beating.

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Discuss this Article

anon932258
Post 61

My mother is 70 and has a good blood pressure but does have these occasional episodes of a rapid heartbeat, and these episodes do seem correlated with digestion. (It is scary, though, because her age suggests the beginning of atrial fibrillation, which her mother had preceding a stroke.)

She does not consume alcohol but does drink caffeinated sodas and coffee. She will not go to a doctor and fears that getting on medications would make her life worse. These episodes haven't lasted longer than 15 minutes. By the time we decide to check her pulse and blood pressure and start discussing going to have it checked out, it's gone.

She has essentially a "stomach attack" and then these scary heart symptoms, and then it goes away. Vagus nerve is an interesting explanation.

anon930548
Post 60

I have tachycardia whenever I run. I have a heart monitor and it shows that my heart jumps immediately into the 180s. When I hit close to 200 (usually by mile 6), I feel queasy, dizzy, short of breath, intestines cramp, and my fingers and ankles swell up to twice their normal size so I cant grip anything. So, I slow down and walk for a while to get my rate into the 170s. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

I've never been tested and have just lived with this for the last 13 years (first noticed it when I was 35 during a scuba expedition and now I'm 48). As uncomfortable as it is, I haven't died yet, and hope to avoid doctors for the rest of my life simply by trying to stay fit, go with how my body feels and drink lots of water and electrolytes. I don't trust pharmaceuticals; they are more likely to kill me than my own heart is.

anon924653
Post 59

I am a 40 year old physician (radiologist). I probably had coffee and stress related SVT occasionally as a younger man. I was not limited in any way until I started running in my late 30’s.

The Garmin heart monitor tipped me off to something serious. Whenever I felt “funny” running, the monitor went from 170’s to 255bpm and held steady. I had a full cardiac work up and during a stress test ran my heart into pSVT at 258bpm.

The cardiologist diagnosed a benign atrial tachycardia that could be left alone given my limited symptoms or treated with beta blockers if my running was hindered. I wouldn’t hear anything about ablation, given the monster size sheaths required in both groins (I put in sheaths but nowhere near that large).

The cardiologist put a positive spin on these when he told me to feel lucky that I could run without chest pain with a heart rate of nearly 260bpm indicating my coronaries are probably pretty clean.

With consistent training I, can run hard (45min 10k) or long (10 miles at 8min/m pace) without any problems, unless I drink alcohol-even a few drinks the night before a run, drink soda, experience dehydration, run to the point of fatigue/stress, and I have a few triggers I haven’t nailed down yet. I think many of the above are tied to dehydration and possibly to subtle changes in electrolytes.

anon354970
Post 58

I am a 23 year old female. I have had this problem for the last couple of years. It is a weird sensation where my heart rate skyrockets, which is almost accompanied by a sensation that feels as though my heart stops for a quick second and then continues to beat again, or one hard solid beat.

Along with these symptoms, I also have an extremely bloated stomach associated with consumption of certain foods and frequent acid reflux symptoms. I refuse to entertain the idea that coffee or caffeine triggers this due to the fact that only sometimes these things affect me, whereas other times I am completely fine.

I feel an extreme rise in these episodes when I consume gluten and soy products and also when I consume tomatoes/pasta sauces or spicy foods. I feel that these symptoms are associated with diet issues that are unrecognized and undiagnosed by the doctors.

Doctors seem to only look at what is wrong, not what is causing what is wrong, which is why none of us have any answers aside from the ones we have gained through our own experiences.

I have noticed that after a couple of weeks on a strict diet with no gluten, no soy and no artificial ingredients that these episodes go away entirely, but if I slip and have something with these ingredients in them, my episodes start a few hours later or the next day.

Along with cutting out these things from my diet, I add probiotics and fish oil capsules that do not contain soy. I highly advise all of you to pay close attention to your diet triggers if you wish to gain your health back!

A1s2d5t67yg4
Post 57

I'm 33, and have had PAT since 10.

To the poster wondering if running real fast to match the heart rate would help bring it into normal rhythm, well, don't. Your heart will increase in rate and eventually stop, like a vise grip was suddenly clamped down on it. Hurts like hell. Obviously, it started beating again. I don't know how long it was stopped, but I'm pretty sure I'm a little dumber because of it, so read this post with caution. Hats off to the poster with this creative idea, but it didn't work for me. It took years before I could say I felt "normal" in my chest again.

I had another cardiac arrest at 22 (yes, I have stubbornness issues, and probably not because of my viking heritage either). It wasn't quite as bad, but still hurt like nothing else. Don't keep working physically after onset, or you'll end up a mind-bombed PATsy like me (har har, that's a knee-slapper).

My observations on triggers are physical, diet and chemical related:

Physical: Sudden changes in elevation (bending down, standing up, jumping etc.), stress (such as public speaking) or physical challenges that bring on adrenalin bursts (extreme sports).

Diet: Caffeine and sugar in more than very small amounts, and spicy foods.

Chemical: Related to spicy foods -- I suspect the active component of capsaicin, found in chili peppers to be a cause (though I suspect other sources that cause hot/spicy sensation).

Why? Because capsaicin increases secretion of gastric acid, which is involved in the digestion process. The wiki articles on capsaicin and gastric acid (for anyone willing to wade through the weird and wonky biochemistry lingo) will yield some interesting connecting thoughts.

My observations on returning heart rate to normal or avoiding an episode altogether:

Physical: Immediately upon onset: I "freeze." I don't even think, and maybe, maybe, just maybe it goes away (usually not for me).

Immediately after onset: Lie down and occupy mind (mental). (Note: If I maintain physical activity after onset, it almost always lasts for a day or more). I have tried many things after onset, but none work for me other than waiting, sleeping, or occupying my mind.

Mental (occupying the mind): Focus on something (like writing this post on day three of this freakin' episode), or watch an engaging movie (as in, forget-about-everything-mind-blowing movie) which I don't have right now.

Chemical: No clue, other than drink water, because your kidneys are working more than normal. I was on beta blockers, but quit because I prefer to feel normal when things are actually normal.

I really enjoyed all the prior input, folks. Thank you and keep smiling. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." --Jeff the Jongleur.

anon354369
Post 56

I'm 33, have had PAT since 10.

To the poster wondering if running real fast to match the heart rate would help bring it into normal rhythm...well, DON'T. Your heart will increase in rate and eventually stop, like a vice grip was suddenly clamped down on it. Hurts like hell. Obviously it started beating again. I don't know how long it was stopped, but I'm pretty sure I'm a little dumber because of it, so read this post with caution ;-). Hat's off to the poster with this creative idea, but it didn't work for me. It took years before I could say I felt "normal" in my chest again.

I had another cardiac arrest at 22 (yes, I have stubbornness issues, and probably not because of my viking heritage either) It wasn't quite as bad, but still hurt like nothing else. Don't keep working physically after onset, or you'll end up a mind-bombed PATsy like me :-). (har har, that's a knee-slapper).

My observations on triggers are physical, diet and chemical related:

Physical: Sudden changes in elevation (bending down, standing up, jumping etc.), stress (such as public speaking) or physical challenges that bring on adrenalin bursts (extreme sports).

Diet: Caffeine and sugar in more than very small amounts, and spicy foods.

Chemical: Related to spicy foods - I suspect the active component of capsaicin, found in chili peppers to be a cause (though I suspect other sources that cause hot/spicy sensation).

Why? Because capsaicin increases secretion of gastic acid, which is involved in the digestion process. The wiki articles on capsaicin and gastric acid (for anyone willing to wade through the weird and wonky biochemistry lingo) will yield some interesting connecting thoughts.

My observations on returning heart rate to normal or avoiding an episode altogether:

Physical:

-Immediately upon onset: I "freeze", I don't even think, and maybe, maybe, just maybe it goes away (usually not for me).

-Immediately after onset: Lay down and occupy mind (mental). (NOTE: If I maintain physical activity after onset, it almost always lasts for a day or more). I have tried many things after onset, but none work for me other than waiting, sleeping, or occupying my mind.

Mental (occupying the mind):

-Focus on something (like writing this post on day three of this friggin episode), or watch an engaging movie (as in, forget-about-everything-mind-blowing movie) which I don't have right now.

Chemical:

No clue, other than drink water, because your kidneys are working more than normal. I was on beta blockers, but quit because I prefer to feel normal when things are actually normal.

I really enjoyed all the prior input folks. Thank you and keep smiling. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones."

Jeff the Jongleur.

anon345542
Post 55

I must say that this is one of the most informative message boards that I've read thus far. Every three to five months, I will get an episode of sudden onset tachycardia. My bpm will run between 130-170 with what feels like short pauses of two or three seconds where my heart does not beat at all. During these "pauses," I get a warm feeling in my chest with dizziness and shortness of breath where I feel like I'm going to pass out. I've been dealing with this now for almost three years. (I'm a 44 year old male.)

Almost every time this has happened, an ambulance was called. By the time they arrived and hooked me up on the 12 lead, I was in normal sinus rhythm. Most of the time, these episodes last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.

I had an EP study when all this first started, with negative results. I've also had a tilt table test which I was told that I failed. I was put on 25mg of atenolol twice daily and Xanax as needed. I've had a 30 day and 7 day monitor which have revealed nothing. I've had a 64 slice CT of my heart, which has shown a healthy heart. I also have had regular stress tests and stress echocardiograms. All were fine.

All I can say is that when I get these "episodes," it feels like what I would think it would feel like for someone who is just about to go into cardiac arrest. It's the absolute worst feeling of impending doom. The best I can do is lie down, take another atenolol, Xanax and wait for the ambulance. I sympathize with anyone who feels this way. No one really understands unless it has happened to them.

My life was great until this started happening. Now I live with daily anxiety of anticipating the next episode. The Xanax helps relieve some of the anxiety, but it doesn't last long enough. It's upsetting that the actual events have never been recorded on paper. That info would have the potential of revealing a great deal to my electro physiologist and cardiologist. One other thing: it seems as if some of these episodes were brought on by bending down and getting up. It could be a coincidence, but I believe that I am starting to see a trend.

My ultimate goal is to find what my triggers may be and to stop this from happening. I have cut out caffeine, sugary drinks and avoid as much stress as possible. I've lost 25 pounds by eating healthier, yet I'm still having these episodes.

Please keep posting your stories. It feels good to know that I'm not alone. --Dave

anon345480
Post 54

Has anyone here linked the heartbeats to hunger? I need to eat regularly otherwise my heartbeats start. Even when I'm not hungry, but it's been a few hours since my last snack or meal, I have to remember to eat otherwise I start getting sick. Has anyone been diagnosed that this may be linked to blood sugar?

anon343924
Post 53

I have my heart beat fast, like two beats real fast, then it goes normal. It is scary. It never used to happen but now, it happens like every other day. I have a weird feeling in the left side of my throat. I have pain in my upper middle back. I have some pain when I breathe in. I also have weird symptoms when I have to poo or pee.

I just want to get better. I stay away from certain foods since some of these things can trigger it. It could be stress, too. It all started last year when I felt a pain in my side then started feeling dizzy and shortness of breath. I felt like it changed my mind. I feel like I am not here.

I went to the medical center and they found nothing but a fast heart rate, that I was dehydrated and had an infected tooth as well as hyperventilating. I am 29 and this stinks. Now I wish it was a panic attack. God bless you all hope we can find out our causes.

anon340536
Post 52

I am 34 and have had these terrible episodes since the beginning of the year. I went to the ER and was told that I needed to see a cardiologist. The doctor did a 24 hour heart monitor, an ultrasound on my heart and a stress test and everything was normal. I am taking the blood pressure medicine metoprolol. I don't really feel my heart racing so much anymore, but I still feel dizzy like I want to faint.

I have been feeling very overwhelmed and fear that something else is going on. I was diagnosed with PVST. Could these be anxiety and I was diagnosed incorrectly?

anon333690
Post 51

I don't drink alcohol. I had my first attack last night, and it lasted 4 1/2 hours with five or six 'calm down' periods lasting about a minute and a half each. Of course, nothing showed on the EKG, but I will make an appointment for a stress test in the near future.

I smoke cigarettes and had smoked some pot but it was over 45 minutes after the pot when it started. My heart rate was 33 in 15 sec. My norm is 66bpm. It scared the crap out of me. No more weed. I do drink coffee sometimes, but was bulimic for almost 10 years until about six years ago. I wonder if I've damaged my heart. It's so exhausting.

I'm 36 and a single mom of two. My baby is 18 months old. It's scary be cause I live alone. Thankfully, I had friends over last night and was able to go to the hospital but to no avail so far.

anon315503
Post 50

My arrhythmia is controlled when I strictly avoid soy, caffeine and alcohol.

Soy is the most difficult to avoid, because it's in everything, and even secondhand soy affects me (eggs from chickens fed soy). Read the labels, and you will be shocked. Keep in mind that refined soy oil does not need to be labeled. I even had to stop the oily CoQ10 and vitamin E capsules.

The soy problem doesn't show up until one or two days after I have eaten soy, so this was very difficult to figure out.

I suggest you try a week of strictly eating only vegetables and grass-fed meat. For this test, you can use real butter or 100 percent olive oil. Don't use any other oils. Hope it works for you.

anon281235
Post 49

I have been reading all these posts, and some are alike, some different. It seems everyone at some point has experienced this little heart problem. I am 73 now, have had SVT's, irregular heartbeat, skip a beat, too slow, too fast, all of it. I've been light headed, had hours of rapid heartbeat and a few electronic shocks with the paddles -- all this since I was 40. I'm kind of used to it now. Even when something new comes along, I figure it out. I always know what triggers it. You would think I would not do it again, but hey, we have to live! The funny thing is it is not heart disease! There's no real label for this thing. I have been in the hospital at least five times in the past twenty years just for this.

All meds do not help. Some help a little, but if we trip up, it comes on. I rarely have any alcohol; it starts it; chocolate big time starts it; stress, big time starts it; bending over; and if I sleep flat, I wake with it, so I sleep at an angle. I do deep breathing, and I add a little more Atenolol, a little Lorazepam, and I am a health nut, but no matter. I still get rapid, irregular, skipped, heartbeats, etc. It sometimes lasts for an hour, sometimes twenty minutes, sometimes six or eight hours, but guess what folks? We are all still here! It is an electrical malfunction of the heart and what ever brings it on, and I know most of what does it, we have to deal with it. I too, have hypothyroidism, but I had rapid heartbeat before that came on. So, I just watch and read, and hang out and learn as much as I can about this malady. Some day, someone will come up with an answer.

When I am low in calcium or magnesium, that gives me a good mess of irregular beats. It is hit and miss with this, and it does help at three in the morning to read through all the posts. Somehow it makes me feel better, because we are not alone in this. If it doesn't kill you, it must make you stronger for the next episode!

So, buckle up and hold on for the ride, and if you find that cure, let us all know! Yes, it is scary, but that too shall pass. I just don't run to the doctor or hospital any more. I just stay home and deal with it. If I can't get it under control, at all, then I may go to the hospital. Good luck out there!

anon280774
Post 48

I had a cardiac ablation and it made my symptoms much worse. Has anyone else had that same problem?

anon277091
Post 47

I'm 36 male and I experienced palpitations since growing up. Never took any medication until I had my first major episode of PSVT in June 2012 with a heart rate of 230 bpm. It was so scary. I stayed one night at the ICU and was about to check out when my heart rate shoots up again to 190 bpm. The doctor gave me IV adenosine and went fine after that. I'm taking Isoptin 240 mg (slow release) once a day.

I stopped completely taking Xenical, coffee, tea cola drinks, chocolate and reduced my smoking from 15 sticks to three sticks per day. I'm going there and hopefully I'll get of rid of smoking completely.

I drink occasionally, like two or three times a month and I'm going to get rid of it also. I've had a few panic attacks because of this experience, but I conquered it with mind conditioning.

Don't focus on feeling and listening to your heartbeat; it will stress you and cause you another attack. Anxiety causes panic attacks which will lead to phobia. Went back to running for 45 minutes every day and I'm feeling great now. Just relax and don't think that you're going to have the episode again. Holding my breath for five to six seconds stops the rapid heartbeat and is very effective.

anon249118
Post 46

I have atrial fibrillation now, but had atrial flutter before. My highest recorded pulse rate was 308 beats per minute. I had an ablation done and it was fine.

Soon after this, I was back in A&E and was then told I have atrial fibrillation. I get them regularly throughout the day and it makes me feel weak and drained.

When I tell this to my doctor, he just says that it is part of my illness. Does anybody know anything that will perk me up? I used to drink lots of beer and vodka but now drink nothing, but these episodes still occur on a regular basis.

anon246204
Post 45

I am 47 and have suffered from PSVT, SVT or PAT's since I was 13.

I find I get them in clusters, with pressure changes in weather, getting chilled after sweating, odd weather for the time of year, being overdressed in cold weather. It is like my body can't figure out if it is hot or cold, will start my heart racing. If I bend down to fast. And yes, when stressed, will wake up from a nightmare with a very fast heartbeat.

When I was a kid on one trip to the emergency room, a doctor took his thumbs and pressed very hard on my eyes, till I saw a flash of light, then an odd sensation, like swallowing a lump of peanut butter kind of feeling, then my heart went back to a normal pace. Ever since then I have used the eye pressing method to stop the rapid heart beating. It usually stops fairly quickly. I am grateful that doctor taught me this method, because I get the rapid heartbeats quite often. I can usually go about my day normally after. Otherwise I feel as if I may pass out if I were to let the rapid pace to continue.

anon245820
Post 44

Just so you know, in the event you should have a sudden episode, just cough, and keep coughing until you feel it correct itself. It usually takes only a few seconds. The cough helps restore a normal heart rhythm. It's the simplest of all the maneuvers and it works.

anon245574
Post 43

I just wanted to say that after years of tests that showed my heart was 100 percent healthy, the doctors kept telling me I was having panic attacks. I could be laughing and my heart beat would speed up out of nowhere.

I don't have a stressful life. I do have epilepsy though, and still I knew panic attacks had to be the go-to answer because doctors won't just come out say they don't know. They offered me all kinds of painkillers and medications I knew I didn't need.

One day, a voice just put the answer right in my brain saying, "It's your vagus nerve, it controls your digestion and your heartbeat". The key is to naturally nurture your vagus nerve, is to take care of your digestive system with fiber (Special K twice a day works for me) and stay hydrated for your nerves' and heart's sake, and take a b-12 vitamin once a day. It changed my life, and I'm optimistic it will change yours too.

anon242530
Post 42

For me, it looks like high protein powder is a trigger for this.

anon242192
Post 41

I have had the same p/af. But I have put it down to eating late. So I don't eat a meal after 4 p.m. Then I only eat a small bowl of peanuts and walnuts at night if I'm hungry. My breakfast is my lunch and lunch is my dinner. I have got used to it now, and feel hungry in the morning, which I didn't used to do. Plus I have dropped two dress sizes, which must be a good thing. Hope it continues to work.

anon238065
Post 40

I am almost 45. I have had problems with PAT since I was 17. Like most posters here I have had episodes that have awakened me in the middle of the night; episodes after having had a few drinks; episodes that started after bending over. I take a medication for high blood pressure and I take a beta blocker for PAT. I notice that I tend to dehydrate fairly quickly. I think more quickly than the average person and when I am dehydrated I can guarantee that I will have an episode. So, I drink a lot of water every day.

When I know that I am going to have a couple of cocktails, I make sure that I drink a very large bottle of Smart Water. It's a distilled water with electrolytes. I also have learned that keeping myself calm and slow breathing while lying on my side will help make an episode pass.

Lastly, I took up walking about six years ago when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. The walking has turned into running. I am not sure why, but it helps.

It was nice to read all of these posts. I know of other people who have experienced this, but reading so many posts with similar experiences is comforting, because intellectually, I know how to curb the symptoms, but it still worries me, even after all these years. I hate that sometimes, when big events or activities are coming up, that I always have it in the back of my mind, that I could have an episode and may be in a situation where I can't just lie down and make it stop.

anon206948
Post 39

I was having regular episodes of premature heartbeats. I wore a heart monitor and had over 1,000 in one day! It is obviously uncomfortable with the heavy recovery beat and what feels like a shot of adrenalin. I am very healthy otherwise and in very good physical shape. My blood work has shown hyperthyroidism, but not bad numbers, just a little out of range and the doc thinks this is definitely it.

Long story, but we have a relationship with a natural-type health professional who did her test on me (I am a skeptic!) and I showed a resistance to yeast and grains (gluten) other than corn or rice. This is odd. I went cold turkey on anything with gluten (wheat, barley, rye, etc.) and yeast. It was not particularly fun, since that makes up a lot of my diet, I have discovered.

What is amazing is that I am almost four weeks into it and have not had any more episodes! How crazy is that? It isn't that tough, so try it for a week or two and see if it works for you.

I miss the food (and beer) a lot, but not as much as I love not having the bad heartbeat and the associated anxiety and discomfort. You can learn a ton on the Celiac disease sites. Good luck all.

ramrod
Post 38

I am 67. I first had pat at 20 and usually had 3 to 4 episodes per month. I was prescribed enderal and valium and this helped some bud did not stop all the attacks. At 51 I had a double bypass heart surgery. Soon after this surgery I had another episode of pat. The cardiologist prescribed .25mg of lanoxin per day and now 15 years later I have never had another episode of pat. I might add that I am a recovering alcoholic and also have a hiatal hernia.

anon193593
Post 36

I really hate to hear so many people have this. Has anyone had it go away and never come back? There must be something that can be done.

Do people meet to talk and maybe learn, just to have the chance to know the faces to the stories. I pray all the time that someone would know how i felt, and scream for this to go away and let me live a regular life. I want to dance and be a little crazy, but I'm too scared my heart may stop. I want my tears to go away so I can live, just a little.

anon189318
Post 35

I am nearly 70 years old and have had bouts of PAT/SVT since I was 17. It's almost always associated with exercise such as jogging or power walking, sometimes occurring two or three hours later. Just bending over can trigger an episode. I don't drink alcohol and have discovered that caffeine can also be a trigger. So now I avoid soft drinks with caffeine, regular coffee, even ice tea (unless it's decaffeinated). My cardiologist recently prescribed a low-dose beta blocker and the jury is still out on how it's doing. If that doesn't work, I may go for a cardiac ablation. I hear they are quite safe and effective.

When I do experience SVT, I simply lie down and it usually disappears in 10 to 15 minutes, especially if I put pressure on the left side of my neck. Deep breathing also helps restore a normal heart rate and rhythm.

anon179970
Post 34

I just recently found out that I have Hyperthyroidism. This is what is causing my PAT. I am learning great ways I am going to try to stop them when they come. Thanks for all the tips. As of yet they haven't decided what to do for the Hyperthyroidism so until then I am on Beta Blockers and Ace Inhibitors to control bp.

Luckily, my pulse hasn't gotten as high as 200. The highest mine has gotten was about 160. I was drinking wine a few nights a week to help the bp and then realized I was causing the PAT's. I will stop. Thanks for all the great intel!

anon174319
Post 33

I'm 15 and i just got diagnosed with PATs. my doctor told me that some ways to stop the attacks are to splash cold water on your face, pop your ears or swallow really hard. I have attacks three times a week and they can last up to 45 minutes. it is so scary. she told me if they last any longer i have to go to the hospital. Is it normal to almost faint and feel like you're going to throw up when you have an attack? I have to get a thyroid test as well. Doesn't that have something to do with your metabolism? Any answers?

anon171922
Post 32

I am 53 and occasionally have these episodes where I can awake with a fast heartbeat, which for me is 120 to 140 while I am sleeping. Oddly enough, when I get up and walk around it automatically goes down a little. I am a doctor myself and am in excellent physical condition, and have actually ran to the hospital emergency room a few times trying to figure out what is going on. Here is my contribution and analysis on this topic and I hope this can help some people;

Drink purified or distilled water immediately, and lots of it: You could very well just be dehydrated. Emphasis on distilled water like Dasani or Aquafina is necessary. Best water to drink is called Penta if you can find it. I had a very scary bout of tachycardia after eating chocolate right before I boarded a plane. The PAT Episode started in the air! I drank about 3 liters of water over one hour with the help of some very nice flight attendants and it went down to normal after 90 minutes, slowly decreasing along the way.

Be wary of gresay foods, alcohols and cholesterol laden foods. I don't usually drink and was out with a friend last night, having three beers. I woke this morning with a PAT episode that actually just ended! I drank a lot of water and did breathing exercises.

Breathe in deeply, hold the breath for a few seconds, then breathe out normally. Do this for a few minutes and keep monitoring your pulse. If you get any change for the better it means this method is helping. Keep taking your 15-second pulse and note the changes while doing these things to stop an episode. Of course, keeping calm and telling yourself it will be over soon is important.

Keep an ample supply of Rescue Remedy handy. Rescue Remedy is a bock flower essence and you can purchase it at most health food stores or online. It's just one of those things every household should have available for a multitude of ills related to stress. PAT certainly falls under this category, as well as other traumatic injuries that may occur within your family. Good for children's boo boos as well.

anon157287
Post 31

A way to stop the episodes!

I have suffered from PAT since I was 12 - I am 34 now. For a few years they didn't know what it was until I had a major episode at middle school. The Vice Principal used to work as an Ambulance worker and he insisted they call an ambulance. I was freaking out! The stress made it worse and it lasted a good while.

In the end, I am glad he called. They did an EKG on me in the ambulance and with that, they diagnosed me with PAT. I used to see a cardiologist since the long QT syndrome ran in my family and he taught me when I get an episode, that I need to lay on the floor, put my feet up in the air and "bear down" like I am going to the bathroom. Hold your breathe and bear down.

I can stop my episodes within seconds using this method! PAT isn't as annoying since I can stop the episodes so quickly. Hopefully, this can help others that suffer with it. Sometimes I almost pass out if I don't get on the ground quickly enough!

anon151474
Post 30

A resting ecg when not in an attack will probably show nothing. It needs to be caught *as* it happens. I have had ecgs that have caught it. Always down to alcohol too. Can't stop though. I'm an alcoholic!

As for the amitriptyline, as a person above mentions, it prolongs the QT interval (look it up) and that is not what you want during an episode of AF.

anon146383
Post 28

I wouldn't have amitryptoline my friend. it prolongs the QT interval. You should have further cardiac investigations including a resting and exercise ECG. or EKG's.

anon141705
Post 27

I have had a lot of these episodes during a period of my life (eight years) when I had panic attacks. However, I have found that mine are related to a disturbance in the digestive system. I am since eating mainly raw organic foods and the episodes are gone!

I have eliminated wheat, eggs, soy and dairy, as well as caffeine and spicy foods. I have introduced raw sauerkraut as well to re-populate my digestive track with good bacteria. I can now exercise without any episodes. However if I start eating dairy and wheat again, it starts again -- enough to keep me on raw food! Good luck to every one!

anon136895
Post 26

I'm 34 had just my first af. can marijuana cause this even though the attack came three days later?

anon129850
Post 25

Well I'm 36 and just had my first one. Heart stayed at 180 for six hours. I was in the hospital for three days until I decided to check myself out. I pulled my IV"s and left. I now know my drinking is the problem. Heading to rehab for treatment before I kill over. It scared me!

anon123799
Post 24

I had an episode three years ago. My heart rate was 230. I went to the hospital they gave me Adenosine through the vein.

I just had another attack last week. My rate was 229. After being released two hours later, I was back in the hospital with a 243 heart rate. I haven't been reading any remarks of anyone's being that high. Anyone else having that problem?

anon113538
Post 23

I am 62 and my attack of PAT happens after hard exercise. Today I did a hard bike ride, and kept my HR in the range 140-150. When I got off the bike, my HR went to between 165-180. This lasted for a few minutes and was a bit scary.

I have had a radio ablation and took different drugs (beta-blockers, etc) for awhile. Now I am off the drugs, but do have occasional episodes, like the one today. Today was hot and I probably needed to have more to eat during the bike ride.

My doc says I am ok, but it still is unsettling.

anon109035
Post 22

I had an episode at the age of 20-21. I remember that day I had too much coffee and nothing to drink. It lasted for about 30 minutes. After this episode, that was very intensive and I had to lie down, I had several mild episodes that year but I didn't really pay attention to them. However it was feeling like someone was turning an internal switch to maximum.

Now I am 33 and had three episodes in 30 days. The first was mild and the other two were intensive and happened the same day. I was very stressed at this time, and also on T4 for thyroid that turned out to be wrong, and a lot of tea. I have been ok for about nine months but am on small dosage of xanax since I thought I was going to die.

The big episodes make me lie down wherever I am, with a heartbeat rate at around 200. Also the beats are very "sound".

Good thing my cousin and my uncle are cardiologists and they have told me I am ok.

I also take very small dosages of beta blocker. --Charlie

anon109032
Post 21

I am 75 years old and have had PAT since I was 11 years old. I was playing baseball after lunch at school when I had my first attack. It scared me, the teacher and the principal half to death. The principal took me home and my Mother called a doctor and he came right over.

The next day I went to the hospital and had some tests run but they did not know much back then and I was fine for a while. I continued to have episodes off and on most of my teen and young adult life without knowing what was wrong with me.

I married a career AF man and we moved a lot. It was at a new base that I was diagnosed with PAT after an episode lasting eight hours He put me on quinidine and I took it for a lot of years. I must have gone 10 years without an episode then had several. By then we were retired and settled in a new area.

Our family doctor put me on Inderal and I have been on it ever since. I am living proof that it won't kill you but you might think it is going to. The best way to stop an attack is to drink a glass of ice water as fast as you can and mine would stop immediately.

And yes, it is associated with stomach problems. I have a hiatal hernia. Stay away from fried and spicy foods. Take Pepcid complete. It is the best I have found for that feeling in your stomach where you know you are going to have an attack of PAT. Good luck to all of you and hope we all live to be 100. lol lol

anon92173
Post 20

This is comforting to know that I'm not alone living with this condition. My first PAT was at age 12, and I am now 36. Mine are usually triggered by bending down or stepping down and I find if I keep my back arched, and take a deep breath inwards while I'm bending down it often prevents it from starting. Somehow I can tell when I start to bend down if it may trigger one.

I had all the monitors, ultrasounds, etc., by my cardiologist at the onset and was told that it can be annoying but it won't kill me and I have learned to live with it.

Last night, though, I had a very scary episode which I have never experienced before. No bending, just sitting in front of computer. I felt the familiar flicker in my chest but it was smaller. Then I felt as though I was going to black out. I didn't just feel weak and get the weird feeling in my throat as I usually do. My eyesight started to go spotty, then suddenly I felt the regular PAT start which was, for the first time, rather comforting. It was like my heart stopped for about five seconds then resumed in PAT mode.

Usually, as soon as it stops I'm immediately fine, but this time I was good for about 30 seconds and back into another PAT. I normally would never have them so close. Has anyone had anything like this? I'm wondering if I should go see a cardiologist again.

I had been drinking coke, (no alcohol) on an empty stomach, in a fairly anxious circumstances, and could have gone to the toilet - a recipe for a PAT I now realise after reading these posts!

anon80770
Post 19

I am a 53 yo female with Hashimoto's. I had STds which I had 11 episodes of over 200 beats over the last five years.

In Oct. of 2009, I have a Atrial Ablation which worked, however I am on so much medication: beta blockers, Pristiq, Synthroid, Diovan, Xanax XR that they have now over-medicated me because by blood pressure is so low and my pulse stays around 70 -- so low that I can hardly function. No caffeine, no alcohol. That's ok to be able to avoid the high heart rates.

I have five minute spells that last about 15 minutes with a blood pressure reading that is 150/94 and pulse of 120-150. IT is better, however, and they want to do a second ablation. I take ASA everyday to prevent stroke and exercise to try and keep heart healthy. Otherwise, my heart, arteries and veins are in great shape. I still think it is something I will live with the rest of my life because of Hashimoto's -- a thyroid disease.

God is good, and I pray he heals me! It is frightening when they occur but keep your eyes upon Jesus. The opposite of fear is faith. So brothers and sisters, keep the faith!

anon74833
Post 18

I have had this since a child, I sort of grew out of it for a while but during menopause it returned on a regular basis, I have had it for three or four days at a time and nearly lost my sanity, I was so exhausted.

This last time I put myself in the hospital and found out I had lung and lymph cancer with a short time to live. Strange, the doctor keeps telling me I look so healthy that nothing will go wrong with me. Surprise.

anon74415
Post 17

All this sounds very familiar. I started getting PVST in my late forties after a vigorous work out at the gym.

As the years have moved on so have the episodes of PSVT,they can end quickly (two to five seconds) or last for hours. I have experienced some chest pain, I get a little dizzy, I experience episodes of anxiety and panic.

I went through a phase of continuous worry, but with a good Gp and reassuring cardiologist I know take ownership of this pain in the ass problem. By profession I am a counselling psychologist who specialises in addiction, so for those of you drink and drug, don't. I have worked with patients who have similar issues, alcohol in particular seems to aggravate this condition as does amphetamine based compounds.

So what I do for my patients I do for myself, mindful meditation, means becoming aware of your bodies' feedback. Are you stressed, worried or anxious? Learn the language of your mind and body. Pull yourself out of stressful situations, get around supportive people, take your meds when required if PRN (as you need them), or regularly if prescribed, this if your GP states that this is preferable for you.

Read all you can about your condition take personal responsibility for your outcomes: i.e lose weight, exercise moderately, eat healthy, and most of all try to remain positive.

anon74373
Post 16

People experiencing this should check to see if they have a hiatal hernia as well.

anon73575
Post 15

I have had about seven episodes of PAT over the past ten years. The early ones were caused by alcohol ingestion. I usually woke up at 2 a.m. with a racing heart. I quit drinking and it mostly went away.

Now, without alcohol, I am beginning to wake with PAT in the middle of the night. I take a beta blocker right away and relax and breathe deeply and it passes in fifteen minutes.

Here is something I wonder about. What if you took off running during a PAT? Could you run yourself out of it? In my case I never get light headed during these episodes - no pain - just a racing heartbeat of about 175. So it seems that if you ran yourself up to the speed of the heartbeat, so to speak, and then slowed your running, your heart rate might slow with you. Just a curiosity - wondered if anyone had ever tried it.

anon69712
Post 14

I am 33 years old. PAT just came on me all of the sudden. I started not feeling well during the day and then in the evening I was feeling weird things in my chest. It was almost like my heart was pausing and then a quick thump would go.

Late that night it got worse and I asked my wife to place her ear on my chest and listen. I did not tell her when I felt it but she identified it every time it happened. It was occurring 4 to 5 times every minute. Went to the ER in the morning and of course, the ECG was clear because nothing was happening at that time.

I followed up with my PCP and he recommended a 24 hour HOLT monitor. Of course, they could not get one for two days. I waited and was not feeling well at all. In fact, the next day I was sweating and catching my breath during the day. I came home from work and crashed on the bed.

The next day I went in for the 24 hour Holt monitor. After I was all hooked up, the lady looked at me and asked me if I felt OK. My response: I have not felt OK for five days. She immediately wheeled in a ECG machine and recorded what was going on.

My heart rate was at 160 to 180 and I was not even aware of it. She passed on the results to my PCP and I was told I needed to go to the ER.

I ended up admitted in that small hospital for 3 1/2 days. They tried medicines to bring my heart rate down. My heart was also irregular. I was still experiencing the thumps.

I reacted to the medicine and my blood pressure dropped when I would stand. I could not stand for more than 10 seconds without passing out.

I finally made the decision with my PCP to transfer to a major hospital. They had a Electrophysiology department for cardiology.

They immediately diagnosed me with Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia. That evening they started me on Sotalol. (A Beta Blocker)

Within two hours I was in rhythm and back to normal. This was after a week of PAT. They had to watch me for 72 hours on the medicine. No major side effects.

I am now home. Praise God. I am taking Sotalol and potassium chloride. It is indefinite until we reevaluate. I may have to consider ablation of the heart because I don't want to stay on this medicine the rest of my life.

If you are really concerned, find a hospital with an Electrophysiology Clinic.

The "cardiologist" in the small hospital I was in, misdiagnosed me and said I had atrial fibrillation. Seek a professional.

I hope this helps. It was scary!

anon56866
Post 13

I can identify with this post by Byron Towles, who said he has found that his PAT acts up when he has gas in his system. It's as if it aggravates the Vagus nerve and triggers the twitching.

This is not a panic attack because that is when the heart speeds up gradually and normally. This is a more like a 'twitch' that you get in your eyelid, very disturbing, because it affects your whole heart. As I am older, it seems to be deeper in my stomach. I also have left cheekbone pain and have had Bell's and many cold sores lately.

I don't know whether the gas triggers it or the nerve thumping my heart and stomach creates the gas, but I take an antacid and it seems to help.

First got this as a child of 12 and eventually it went away. It was more severe then and not caused by stomach. Now at 60, it seems to be related to stomach issues (tingling in stomach) that I attribute to having HSV1 (cold sore virus) that cause me dyspepsia for two years.

I always thought I had what is called PAT.

I hate it when it happens, very embarrassing and I have to leave to seek the safety of my home where I can call someone and or call for help if it won't stop.

anon56793
Post 12

I want to add some clarification regarding panic attacks. Some folks on this site could be experiencing panic attacks, however, after years of suffering and trying to honor what my body is telling me, I don't want my symptoms and the self-discoveries I've made to be discounted as undiagnosed panic disorder or others to be discouraged in their search for answers.

I know panic disorder is terrifying and at times crippling to people who have it.

Moderator's reply: Thank you for participating in this forum. However, because of possible copyright issues, we cannot allow copied content in posts. Thank you.

anon55683
Post 11

Some of these posts sound more like a panic attack than a heart problem.

I had a panic attack about two months ago and my heart started racing so fast I thought I would die. I found that lying on my back and breathing deeply while counting helped me to relax and bring my heart beat back to normal.

This episode has repeated itself on a minor scale, mostly because I'm worried it will happen again and that worry makes it happen again.

I guess my advice is that when it happens, don't freak out, it will only make it worse. Just identify it as what it is and try to relax.

anon54653
Post 10

Am 53 years old and have had episodes of PAT/SVT for 20 years; also digestive issues diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome the same amount of time.

After 20 years I finally put together I am allergic to/intolerant of wheat and episodes stopped for months at a time with elimination of wheat/gluten from my diet.

Recently SVT ramped up and I've had to stop soy, eggs and may have to cut out tree nuts. A bit scary to develop more allergies in such rapid succession.

When I have increased episodic SVT I experience the GI symptoms as well. No doctor has helped me thus far (internists, cardiologists, GI).

Just on my own to put all this together and physicians can't seem to get on board with what I have discovered so far.

anon32776
Post 9

I've been told I have PAT. My pulse can go up to 200 but usually stops after 10 min. It seems to be related to eating, getting too hungry, bending like raking. Could this have anything to do with food allergies, inhalants, candida, digestive enzymes??? I don't want to be on heavy duty drugs but have been thinking of taking some benedryl, xanax, maybe magnesium?

This happened on freeway 2x & I just kept deep breathing but it was scary. could i have a heart attack or stroke? EKG fine but never catch it while having symptoms. Echo shows mild pulmonary hypertension & a couple of leaky valves - but not way out of line for 65 yrs. Have Crohns disease & wonder if inflammation could irritate vagus nerve? Don't seem to have hiatal hernia or reflus. Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

anon29186
Post 8

I was very scared and did not know what was going on when this happened too me. I too even left work early because I thought I was going to pass out. I have had about three episodes over about a two month span each. Actually looked this up whenever I was in the middle of having one. I just tried that standing on the head thing and it is gone now. That is neat because I have had the fast heart rate for about 8 hours straight. Thanks for the advice. I might still try the Cardiologist on Monday though just to be safe.

anon27057
Post 7

I have found that my PAT acts up when I have gas in my system. When my heart starts racing, I drink a couple of glasses of water and without exception burp vigorously a few times. I can feel it when I have gas in my system because my heart feels like it's skipping a beat. It does this every 4-6 beats until I burp a couple of times, and it goes away (mostly).

Has anyone else had any issues with burps in their system that aggravate their arrhythmia? Also, I have started having my episodes wake me up in the middle of the night. That used to not be the case, but it happens somewhat regularly now. Nothing spoils a good nights sleep like PAT waking you up for 15 minutes to 2 and a half hours.

Byron Towles

anon26275
Post 6

Last Guy.

Go to a cardiologist. Tell him your story. You may need a holter. You should be on beta blockers eg. Atenolol, metoprolol etc.

You possibly have 'holiday heart syndrome' stop drinking alcohol.

You need a good doc. The guy you're seeing is a quack. I know, I did my MD in India.

best of luck

debz1998
Post 5

I have had problems with my heart racing after drinking for quite some time. I do have supraventricular tachycardia. I am on two heart medications for this. Anyway, my heart beats fine when I am taking my meds, but anytime I have just one drink of alcohol, my heart is racing all night. I then have to sit up in my bed. Dilute my bloodstream by drinking tons of water. Then I usually douple up on my heart medicine (Toprol - beta blocker), and seems to help. If I can't slow it down with that, I will take 2mg ativan to knock me out so I can calm down and get some sleep. My cardiologist says this is just a side effect from drinking, and not to worry to much about it. I don't think he realizes how scary it is when it happens to you. This happens even with one drink for me. I guess I need to stop drinking! Who wants to do that though???

anon21828
Post 4

i have had P.A.T. for a long time. What my doctor told me to do was turn myself upside down (headstand). This really helps get rid of an episode, almost instantly. Try it out!

anon18550
Post 3

I have a stressful job, pulling very long nights, and have been slowly migrating from decaf to caffeinated coffee to push myself. I have also been drinking a couple of glasses of wine at night to help me "unwind" . I wound up in the ER earlier this week with a heartrate of 145 beats/min (after 10 mg of Valium). Didn't come down to below 100 until four hours later. Now I've got to wear a holter monitor.

anon17469
Post 2

I am also 33 and have had these episodes since my early 20's. I have gone to emergency for it several times but they never catch it on the ECG in time and when I get an ECG in emergency it is always normal with either tachycardia or bradycardia and preventricular contractions. I have had holter monitors, echo's, complete blood work including thyroid test, renal ultrasound, 24hr urine test...every test I have had comes back completely normal. I have found that when I drink in excess it will happen a couple days after. If I drink strong coffee it may happen later in the afternoon. I run, go to the gym, and eat healthy but it seems to happen without cause sometimes also. The only thing I can suggest is to only have one coffee a day in the morning if you have to and to try and drink less (easier said than done, I know). Also I find that MSG or excessive salt intake can trigger it also, have you found this?

anon4584
Post 1

I am 33 years old male. And live in india. I used to drink alcohol very much since the age of 23, and as the time passed i started it in excess until the age of 31 and there was no problem.

One day i drank too much alcohol and came home and i went to bed and in the midnight i got up and had something to eat and again went to bed then suddenly i felt that my heart is beating very fast and going faster and faster. I thought i got an heart attack and thought i am gonna die. But after 30 minutes of this episode my heart beat came down.

My wife took me to the doctor and doctor said nothing to worry and gave me a injection for sleep and rest.

I got and ecg report and echocardiogram and both reports were ok.

Now i am facing these kinds of episodes not frequently. But doctor recommended me that nothing to worry and gave me medicine amitryptiline 10 mg in case of it happens again.

am i having p.A.T.?

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