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What causes severe ectopic heartbeats after eating food?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1986
Answered : 290 Questions
Hi In approx. 2010 while on holiday in XXXXXXX Lanka, I started to notice severe ectopic heartbeats following eating. I am a fit 46 year old woman. Weight 9st,12lb. Regular exercise. No pain associated with this. It became quite unbearable over the last couple of years where I was sent to A&E for ecg twice (heart scan too which was fine). I explained that I only experienced this while I was digesting food. I was referred to a gastric specialist last year who didn't bother looking inside because "I wasn't passing blood from anywhere and that NICE guidelines say no blood no camera". he said I had indigestion. I have tried pretty much everything on the market for indigestion but nothing worked. PPI's don't work either. I don't get acid reflux. I eat a healthy diet and have tried for 9 months to eliminate certain foods but no patterns emerged. I have been taking Chinese herbs for 9 months and they helped a lot. I am now taking some suppliments like Magnesium, vit B, aloe vera juice which shorten the bouts a lot. I have a popping sensation in my diaphragm sometimes when I breath in and out and an ache in upper left quadrant for a day or so prior to these bouts (which can last weeks and then settle for weeks). Its annoying more than anything. I am not suffering from GAD or anything like that. I am a Counselling Psychologist for NHS. I have lost complete faith in my GP who informed me that my symptoms were common in babies. I have no idea what that means. I am much more improved now however not symptom free. Any thoughts would be great thank you
Posted Sat, 1 Feb 2014 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Haseena Hamdani 3 hours later
Brief Answer: See the detail answer Detailed Answer: Hi, Welcome to XXXXXXX I understand by your question that, you do feel improvement in your symptoms, but you are anxious because no cause has been determined, and evidence based management has not been done. Your concern is right, but In my opinion, you should not worry. Just do take all possible precautions ( as you are taking already), but preferred to mention, in case you are missing any important one) to avoid these ectopic beats, like avoid anxiety, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, and unnecessary medications. Certain spices can also induce ectopic beats. Yous trigger factors for ectopic beats could also be due to fatty, or excessive food in one sitting, drinking cold or fizzy drink during meals, eating fast, or lying down within two hours of meal. These ectopic beats without any known underlying pathology could be harmless, but to be on safer side, you must go for annual evaluation of your heart, by Holter Monitoring, ECG, Echo, and if needed coronary angiography. Your GP wants to say that these ectopic beats are physiological, like happen commonly in young babies. You must also do annual check up for Serum electrolytes specially Potassium level. Low level of potassium can cause ectopic beats. We have to be proactive, but not live in fear. Hope, my answer will help you. if any further question, please feel free to ask. Dr H Hamdani
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