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What causes heart palpitations and shortness of breath with normal EKG?

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Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 2254 Questions
For the past 3 monthes I've had heart palpitations and slight shortness of breath. It took me a long time to get a cardiologist apointment because I had crappy insurance. The past 3 days my shortness of breath has gotten worse. I went to the ER on Sunday. Oxygen saturation levels are 98%. Chest x-ray came out good. EKG was fine. Today was the cardiologist appointment that took forever to get to. My cardiologist set me up for an echocardiogram for next Tuesday. Aren't my symptoms a emergency? Sleep has been very hard because I wake up gasping for air and my heart speeds up and it jolts me awake keeping me from sleeping. I've read oxygen saturation levels, EKGs, and chest x-rays don't even show anything serious that you may have half the time, shouldn't they send me over for a echocardiogram much sooner than that? Shouldn't a shortness of breath(24/7) be a sign of urgency that I may need heart surgery at this very moment or it might be too late?
Posted Sat, 16 Aug 2014 in Hypertension and Heart Disease
Answered by Dr. Benard Shehu 34 minutes later
Brief Answer:
No emergency...

Detailed Answer:
Hi there,

I am sorry for the situation you are in. I am also happy to know that all your examinations (EKGs, chest X-rays) resulted normal. So, nothing worrisome is happening to you. Just wait for next Tuesday to run echocardiogram.

If it was emergency (based on primary reports), your doctor should have run immediate echo. As I do not think your problems are emergency, just calm down until you take the echo next Tuesday.

Meanwhile, I advise to:
- try to control anxiety. That will definitely worsen your situation
- avoid alcohol or other recreational drugs
- take chamomile/valeriana/aloe vera tea (can find at over the counter)

Hope it helped!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What causes heart palpitations and shortness of breath with normal EKG? 54 minutes later
But it's hard for me to breathe while at rest. Shouldn't that receive immediate attention? As maybe my artery isn't working and I need a replacement or something. Something those tests can't see. I feel like I can randomly die at any time because I can't breathe. I mean having palpitations is one thing but with the inability to breathe takes it to a whole new level.
Answered by Dr. Benard Shehu 39 hours later
Brief Answer:
Try to control your stress/anxiety level...

Detailed Answer:
Hi back,

Ok, then. When you get the next attack, run immediately to the ER and ask for full cardiac check ups, If after evaluation, nothing bad is seen to be run with your heart, then, should wait until next Tuesday.

Meantime, try to control your stress/anxiety level and continue with healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle regimen. Physical workouts and breathing fresh air can also help.

All the best!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What causes heart palpitations and shortness of breath with normal EKG? 5 hours later
They aren't attacks. I can't breathe 24/7. Can I ask for more than a EKG and chest x-ray at the ER? What test can i ask at the er that deals with my heart? I dont want to go up there and be sent back home without any actual help or direction because those 2 tests don't show anything.
Answered by Dr. Benard Shehu 4 hours later
Brief Answer:
Troponin/d-dimer levels....

Detailed Answer:
Hi there,

You can ask to get two other tests :
- troponin
- D-dimer

levels measured in order to exclude heart attack or pulmonary embolism.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What causes heart palpitations and shortness of breath with normal EKG? 40 hours later
If it is my heart that is causing me breathing problems, aka heart disease, is that a death sentence these days/ has to be fixed by high risk surgery or can heart disease be controlled with medication or low risk surgerys?
Answered by Dr. Benard Shehu 21 hours later
Brief Answer:
Run cardiac tests first...

Detailed Answer:

It is necessary to run the cardiac tests first before deciding the final diagnosis and the severity of symptoms.

Even in case of serious cardiac diseases, they are fully evaluated by cardiac tests first, before deciding for treatment strategy.

It is true that there are 2 ways of treatment: medications and surgery. Surgery is indicated only in particular cases, when treatment through medications have failed.

This is true even in cases of severe cardiac diseases, they can be perfectly treated through medications and you don't need necessary to run surgery.

Once again, you should run the cardiac tests first, before giving the final conclusions.

All the best!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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