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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Exp 50 years

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Suggest treatment for quivering heart beat

Answered by
Dr. Benard Shehu


Practicing since :2004

Answered : 2257 Questions

Posted on Tue, 11 Nov 2014 in Hypertension and Heart Disease
Question: I am a 54 year old female with a history of SVT, MVP, PAC's, and PVC's. I am currently on Tenormin 50 mg, and have been since age 22. Lately my heart has been doing skips or back to back PVC's or PAC's. It feels like it is just quivering and not beating and is very scary. I have told my heart dr about it, but he doesn't seemed alarmed. I recently wore a holter monitor, but it only did a few PVC's and PAC's , but not in runs of three, four, or more like it feels like it did tonight. I would have given anything to have had it on tonight. It felt like my heart had quit and I could feel it in my chest and I just held my breath to see how long it was going to last and it lasted for about 15 seconds and kinda left me shaky and a bit light headed. I wonder if it is Atrial Fib, or Ventricular Fib, or Atrial Flutter or not sure what else, just know it was doing a lot of quivering and I could feel it when it finally got back into rhythm. Seemed like I needed to cough, was really scary. Can you please tell me if you think this is serious and what I need to do?
Answered by Dr. Benard Shehu 4 hours later
Brief Answer:
Atrial fibrillation/PVC,increase Tenormin dose...

Detailed Answer:

I have gone through your medical history and from what you are describing, what you are experiencing is more like atrial fibrillation/PVC and/or anxiety and not due to ventricular fibrillation.

It is not severe, I advise to :

- increase the dose of Tenormin

- reduce/eliminate coffee intake

- be more physically active

It is frequent extra-systoles, and it is not an emergency. Take another dose of Tenormin and try to relax.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Yogesh D
Follow up: Dr. Benard Shehu 19 minutes later
I never drink anything that has caffeine in it, and I walk about three miles three times a week when the weather permits. Isn't atrial fib dangerous if that is what I have? My heart rate wasn't up, it was just the quivering or whatever the heck it was doing.

Catheter ablation to isolate the pulmonary veins to treat atrial fibrillationCatheter ablation
A heart during AV node ablationAV node ablation
The atrial fibrillation treatment that is most appropriate for you will depend on how long you've had atrial fibrillation, how bothersome your symptoms are and the underlying cause of your atrial fibrillation. Generally, the treatment goals for atrial fibrillation are to:

Reset the rhythm or control the rate
Prevent blood clots
The strategy you and your doctor choose depends on many factors, including whether you have other problems with your heart and if you're able to take medications that can control your heart rhythm. In some cases, you may need a more invasive treatment, such as surgery or medical procedures using catheters.

In some people, a specific event or an underlying condition, such as a thyroid disorder, may trigger atrial fibrillation. Treating the condition causing atrial fibrillation may help relieve your heart rhythm problems. If your symptoms are bothersome or if this is your first episode of atrial fibrillation, your doctor may attempt to reset the rhythm.

Resetting your heart's rhythm

Ideally, to treat atrial fibrillation, the heart rate and rhythm are reset to normal. To correct your condition, doctors may be able to reset your heart to its regular rhythm (sinus rhythm) using a procedure called cardioversion, depending on the underlying cause of atrial fibrillation and how long you've had it. Cardioversion can be conducted in two ways:

Electrical cardioversion. In this brief procedure, an electrical shock is delivered to your heart through paddles or patches placed on your chest. The shock stops your heart's electrical activity momentarily. When your heart begins again, the hope is that it resumes its normal rhythm. The procedure is performed during sedation, so you shouldn't feel the electric shock.
Cardioversion with drugs. This form of cardioversion uses medications called anti-arrhythmics to help restore normal sinus rhythm. Depending on your heart condition, your doctor may recommend trying intravenous or oral medications to return your heart to normal rhythm.

This is often done in the hospital with continuous monitoring of your heart rate. If your heart rhythm returns to normal, your doctor often will prescribe the same anti-arrhythmic medication or a similar one to try to prevent more spells of atrial fibrillation.

Before cardioversion, you may be given a blood-thinning medication such as warfarin (Coumadin) for several weeks to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke. Unless the episode of atrial fibrillation lasted less than 48 hours, you'll need to take warfarin for at least four weeks after cardioversion to prevent a blood clot from forming even after your heart is back in normal rhythm.

Or, instead of taking blood-thinning medications, you may have a test called transesophageal echocardiography — which can tell your doctor if you have any heart blood clots — just before cardioversion.

Maintaining a normal heart rhythm

After electrical cardioversion, your doctor may prescribe anti-arrhythmic medications to help prevent future episodes of atrial fibrillation. Medications may include:

Dofetilide (Tikosyn)
Propafenone (Rythmol)
Amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone)
Although these drugs may help maintain a normal heart rhythm, they can cause side effects, including:

Rarely, they may cause ventricular arrhythmias — life-threatening rhythm disturbances originating in the heart's lower chambers. These medications may be needed indefinitely. Even with medications, the chance of another episode of atrial fibrillation is high.

Heart rate control

You may be prescribed medications to control your heart rate and restore it to a normal rate. Heart rate control can be achieved through several medications.

The medication digoxin (Lanoxin) may control heart rate at rest, but not as well during activity. Most people require additional or alternative medications, such as calcium channel blockers or beta blockers.

Beta blockers may cause side effects such as worsening of heart failure and low blood pressure (hypotension). Calcium channel blockers can also cause side effects, and may need to be avoided if you have heart failure or low blood pressure.

Catheter and surgical procedures

Sometimes medications or cardioversion to control atrial fibrillation doesn't work. In those cases, your doctor may recommend a procedure to destroy the area of heart tissue that's causing the erratic electrical signals and restore your heart to a normal rhythm. These options can include:

Catheter ablation. In many people who have atrial fibrillation and an otherwise normal heart, atrial fibrillation is caused by rapidly discharging triggers, or "hot spots." These hot spots are like abnormal pacemaker cells that fire so rapidly that the upper chambers of your heart quiver instead of beating efficiently.

In catheter ablation, a doctor inserts long, thin tubes (catheters) into your groin and guides them through blood vessels to your heart. Electrodes at the catheter tips can use radiofrequency energy, extreme cold (cryotherapy) or heat to destroy these hot spots, scarring the tissue so that the erratic signals are normalized. This corrects the arrhythmia without the need for medications or implantable devices.

Surgical maze procedure. The maze procedure is conducted during an open-heart surgery. Using a scalpel, doctors create several precise incisions in the upper chambers of your heart to create a pattern of scar tissue. Because scar tissue doesn't carry electricity, it interferes with stray electrical impulses that cause atrial fibrillation. Radiofrequency or cryotherapy also can be used to create the scars, and there are several variations of the surgical maze technique.

These procedures have a high success rate, but atrial fibrillation may recur. Some people may need catheter ablation or other treatment if atrial fibrillation recurs.

Because the surgical maze procedure requires open-heart surgery, it's generally reserved for people who don't respond to other treatments or when it can be done during other necessary heart surgery, such as coronary artery bypass surgery or heart valve repair.

Atrioventricular (AV) node ablation. If medications or other forms of catheter ablation don't work, or if you have side effects or are not a good candidate for other procedures, AV node ablation may be another option. The procedure involves applying radiofrequency energy to the pathway connecting the upper chambers (atria) and lower chambers (ventricles) of your heart (AV node) through a catheter to destroy this small area of tissue.

The procedure prevents the atria from sending electrical impulses to the ventricles. The atria continue to fibrillate, though. A pacemaker is then implanted to keep the ventricles beating properly. After AV node ablation, you'll need to continue to take blood-thinning medications to reduce the risk of stroke because your heart rhythm is still atrial fibrillation.

Preventing blood clots

Many people with atrial fibrillation or those who are undergoing certain treatments for atrial fibrillation are at especially high risk of blood clots that can lead to stroke. The risk is even higher if other heart disease is present along with atrial fibrillation. Your doctor may prescribe blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants) such as:

Warfarin (Coumadin). Warfarin may be prescribed to prevent blood clots. If you're prescribed warfarin, carefully follow your doctor's instructions. Warfarin is a powerful medication that may cause dangerous bleeding. You'll need to have regular blood tests to monitor warfarin's effects.
Newer anticoagulants. Several newer blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants) are available. These medications are shorter acting than warfarin and don't require monitoring. It's very important to take these medications exactly as prescribed. You shouldn't take the newer anticoagulants if you have a mechanical heart valve.

Dabigatran (Pradaxa) is an anticoagulant medication that's as effective as warfarin at preventing blood clots that can lead to strokes, and doesn't require blood tests to make sure you're getting the proper dose.

Rivaroxaban (Xarelto) is another anticoagulant medication that's as effective as warfarin for preventing strokes. Rivaroxaban is a once-daily medication.

Apixaban (Eliquis) is another anticoagulant medication that's as effective as warfarin for preventing strokes.

Talk to your doctor about taking one of these newer anticoagulants as an alternative to warfarin if you're concerned about your risk of stroke. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions carefully and don't stop taking any of these medications without talking to your doctor first.

Many people have spells of atrial fibrillation and don't even know it — so you may need lifelong anticoagulants even after your rhythm has been restored to normal.

I found the article I just sent to you and it makes it sound like atrial fib is very dangerous and many procedures need to be taken.

Isn't atrial fib where your heart beats fast too when you have it? If so, my heart wasn't beating fast, just a quivering really odd thing for about 15 seconds as I described, but not fast. I also read where ablation can fix it, but how would they get ur heart to go into the quivering or whatever it is doing to fix it? I also read where tenormin can be used for atrial fib, if that is what I have, but it can not restore it to a normal rhythm and it said you need to be on another drug that can return it to normal rhythm.
Answered by Dr. Benard Shehu 8 hours later
Brief Answer:
Atrial fibrillation to be confirmed first...

Detailed Answer:
Hi back dear XXXXXXX

1. Atrial fibrillation is not dangerous if it is treated accordingly.

2. Your doctor has not confirmed atrial fibrillation in your case. So, it is necessary to determine this diagnosis first, then, to start treatment.

3. If you start taking anti-arrhythmic drugs without determining atrial fib., and if it is not your diagnosis, then, they the consequences are really dangerous.

4. I am happy that you are able to find information on your current health situation. But, remember not to be confused with info you get as sometimes, it is very specific and confounding.

5. From what you are describing it seems more like PVC than atrial fibrillation. Again I’m counseling you to wait for the right diagnosis. Invasive cardiology such as ablation is a procedure that must be taken with care and should be done in well selected patient.

Discuss it further with cardiologist!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Ashwin Bhandari

The User accepted the expert's answer

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