Tachycardia in pregnancy: Please tell me what you know - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 05-06-2010, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I posted a few weeks back stating that I had an episode of light headedness, dizziness, heart racing (post is here) and I did go immediately to the Dr.

By the time I got there, my symptoms had gone. They still did an EKG and a pulmonary test anyway, but the only thing he had to tell me was that he thought I was stressed out or had anxiety. While I didn't want to believe it (and really didn't), I took his word for it at the time.

However... it started getting more and more frequent as the days passed. It went from once every few days to now happening every single day, many many times a day. I decided to take my pulse when this happens and it ranges btwn 118-130. It only lasts as long as it takes me to take a few breaths, slow down, or sit down. It literally passes in a minute, but if I continue to exert myself, it picks back up a few minutes later. I looked up the symptoms online and looked for threads here, and found that what I have is more likely to be Tachycardia.

ETA: I have Gestational Diabetes and my blood sugar is always normal when this happens. My blood pressure is normal as well at these times (I have my own wrist cuff). I'm also not anemic.

I have an OB appointment this coming Wednesday where I plan on bringing it up, however I've been feeling so crappy that I might try to get an earlier appointment with him and/or see my regular doctor before then.

What I'd like to know is, did you have Tachycardia while pregnant, or, if you know anything about it, I'd like to hear your input. I don't know much, don't know if it's something that is treatable, whether it goes away after you deliver, etc. At this point, I'm seriously considering disability until this child arrives because of it - and I'm really concerned as to how it makes me feel.

Thanks for any and all info you might be able to provide me with, it's much appreciated!!!

Heather (40) DH (41) Georgia Mae b. 9/3/08, Charlotte Grace 7/17/10.
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#2 of 13 Old 05-06-2010, 03:32 PM
 
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I do deal with tachycardia when pregnant. Actually, probably I've always had a low-grade tachycardia my whole life, with a heart rate a bit too high to be average. But when I'm pregnant, it gets exaggerated.

Anyway, with DD1, I went through a whole cardiology eval. What they found is that my heart is physically normal and seems very strong and healthy. It beats fast, and even faster when I'm pregnant, and there's no physiological explanation. It was diagnosed an inappropriate sinus tachycardia (inappropriate meaning nobody knows the reason for it-- it's inappropriate because the heart is healthy.) The decision was made that if my average rate over 24 hours got high enough, we'd consider beta-blockers. The cardiologist was awesome, and told me she was comfortable enough with the meds in pregnancy that she even recommended them for her own daughter when her daughter had this same issue going on. In any case, with both my pregnancies we monitored in every trimester, and the rate never got high enough.

FWIW, though, my rate is a lot higher than yours. I average 100 while sound asleep in the dead of night, and my resting daytime rate is often as high as 135. On a treadmill, I can get up SO MUCH HIGHER. And that's NON-PREGNANT

The problem diminished slowly in the few weeks right after my births. By six weeks postpartum, it was back to my normal rate.

I never had dizziness or lightheadedness, though. That sounds concerning. Have you seen a cardiologist for ultrasound evaluation?

Have you had a thyroid evaluation?

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#3 of 13 Old 05-06-2010, 03:47 PM
 
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I'd try taking some magnesium. I prefer Natural Calm, and they also have a MamaCalm. I really love it and it makes my racing heart and palpitations go away within 3 days.

Hope this helps!
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#4 of 13 Old 05-06-2010, 09:03 PM
 
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i have the same you described with this pregnancy and also did with the last one, what helps for me is i just lay down for a bit on th eleft side, and my heart beat goes back to normal.

johannasonja
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#5 of 13 Old 05-06-2010, 10:55 PM
 
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I have SVT Supraventricular tach. It took the docs a long time to diagnose me and I have a long story about it that I will not get into since it would be a book.

My spells started out and were first thought to be panic attack related. Light-headed, dizzy, sweaty palms, chest pain, flushed feeling, all with a heart rate that soared over 200bpm. Nothing brought it down until it was ready pretty much. Occasionaly when it was really really cold outside breathing in that air would help. I have had numerous tests done, worn monitors for a month before and my heart is "normal".

I have been told that even people who do not have tachy can develope it during pregnancy and it sometimes goes away after delivery. One reason is the increase in blood volume putting extra work on the heart.

I do not know if this helps, but feel free to ask any questions you may have and I will try to answer from my experience.
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#6 of 13 Old 05-07-2010, 12:06 AM
 
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I second the recommendation for magnesium, specifically Natural Calm. I get palpitations these days, and I know mag is a good cure for them. It may be a nutritional deficiency caused by pregnancy, or exacerbated by it. That would be an easy thing to try while you await your OB appt.

HeatherB ~ mama to 3 wonderful boys:  reading.gif 03/02; modifiedartist.gif09/04; sleepytime.gif 09/07 - and Eliana, babygirl.gif 11/13/10!  
Founder of Houston Birth Alternatives: Be Informed, Encouraged, Supported birth support group and aspiring midwife.

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#7 of 13 Old 05-07-2010, 04:10 AM
 
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Do you by any chance have severe morning sickness? My only pregnancy where I dealt with tachycardia was when my hyperemesis was so bad and my body so malnourished it actually caused my heart and kidneys to go a little bit insane. I spent weeks on a home EKG device (had to do 1 hour sessions 3x a day) to monitor it.

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#8 of 13 Old 05-07-2010, 04:23 AM
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I suffer from chronic high blood pressure and have been hospitalized a few times for tachycardia in the past, although I have never been pregnant when this has happened. Well, I've never been pregnant, so . . .

One thing that has not been mentioned are "Vagal maneuvers." This is from mayoclinic.com:
Vagal maneuvers. Your doctor may ask you to perform an action, called a vagal maneuver, during an episode of a fast heartbeat. Vagal maneuvers affect the vagus nerve, which helps regulate your heartbeat. The maneuvers include coughing, bearing down as if you're having a bowel movement, and putting an icepack on your face. I have found that these can help - if you catch yourself when your heart rate is just starting to skyrocket.

Good luck with your upcoming doctors' appointments. If it's decided that you need to go on medication to help control this, then the most important thing is that you first consult with your doctor to choose a medication you feel comfortable with and then that you take it exactly as prescribed and keep a log of any side effects/symptoms. It can take time to find the right drug/dosage, so don't get discouraged.

I'm sending you, your baby, and the rest of your family my best wishes. Good luck, again.
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#9 of 13 Old 05-07-2010, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much all!

I actually DID have severe morning sickness (was on zofran which barely took the edge off), but that passed at around 5 months and I've been fine ever since.

I made an appointment for this Monday with my GP as a follow up to the visit I originally had with his nurse practitioner (who had loosely diagnosed me with stress/anxiety). Their office is able to give you a holter monitor so if I need one, I won't have to go to a cardiologist initially.

I'm usually never one to self-diagnose, but since I was so concerned and didn't agree with the anxiety diagnosis I was originally given, I set out looking for answers. I think the best site I've found yet on the subject - and what has really sold me on the idea that this is what I'm experiencing - is this one. The only thing I don't experience is periods of prolonged elevated pulse. It lasts at the most 2-3 minutes, tops, but is usually about 1-2 minutes. But all other symptoms are frighteningly spot on.

I'm not looking for something to be wrong with me. I'm just looking for explanations as to why I can barely exert any energy most days without feeling like I have something like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and breathing heavy like I've just climbed 2 flights of stairs...lol.

Heather (40) DH (41) Georgia Mae b. 9/3/08, Charlotte Grace 7/17/10.
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#10 of 13 Old 05-07-2010, 11:26 AM
 
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I've had it in some form or another since baby #3. With him they caught it on an EKG. I happened to be at the GP and was obviously not anxious but short of breath and tachy. She did an EKG and called a cardiologist who saw me immediately. He was completely non-plussed as I was only around 140 and said he sees a couple pregnant women a week with tachycardia. He gave me Lopressor (a beta blocker) to take as I needed it and did the requisite 2D echo etc.... and all was fine. It came and went with other pregnancies, usually aggravated by chocolate and other carbs but not caffeine, oh and large meals. Called postprandial tachycardia. Annoying but harmless.
Then was pregnancy #7. I had a run of pretty nasty tachycardia, accompanied by chest pain and severe shortness of breath within hours of having my PICC pulled. That won me a week in the hospital with every test imaginable-blood gases,VQ scan, 2d echo, pulmonary function etc...., on oxygen for a few days and another diagnosis of idiopathic tachycardia. The only thing they found was a bladder infection and my potassium was low. I was a bit of a mess. If I was in bed I was fine, as soon as I stood up my hr would head up to 130, if I walked to the bathroom it was 160. By the time I left the hospital I was only up to the 120's when I got up and normal a few days after that. With this pregnancy the postprandial tachycardia can be awful-it usually lasts hours but I haven't had any SOB so that is a blessing.
If you can keep episodes to a few minutes, you aren't having sustained tachycardia over 140 (which was one cardiologists comfort level), it is annoying and can be miserable but I wouldn't worry too much especially if they have done all the normal tests and they have come back fine.

Karen, homeschooling Catholic mom to 8. #9 due 6/10
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#11 of 13 Old 05-10-2010, 12:51 PM
 
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Hi, hope you got some answers from your doc.
I had this first come up during my first pregnancy, 5 years ago, with episodes of heart racing/feeling faint. I think I run a little fast all the time (100-120 resting, 150-170 walking briskly) but pregnancy definitely exacerbates it. They did end up saying that I had SVT, like another poster brought up. Apparently pregnancy is a normal time for it to come to a head because your heartrate goes up/blood volume goes up anyway. I did wear a holter monitor and had a cardio ultrasound, and they said everything looks normal except that I had episodes of heart rate reaching 170. This did not concern my OB, apparently, and I had a normal vaginal delivery.
I have not yet gone on any medication (pregnant or otherwise), because I'm very reluctant to and it's not that much of a problem to me. I wear a Heart Rate Monitor when I work out, and my midwife told me to keep my rate 160 and under, so I do. Apparently there's also a minor surgery they can do to correct this, but it has a small risk that you'll need a pacemaker implanted (!) so I've been reluctant to do this as well.
Drinking lots of water (my midwife said a gallon a day) helps, as does avoiding caffeine and sudden changes (lurching up out of bed/couch, etc.). If I have an episode I just sit/lay down (laying down is much better, if possible) and wait for it to pass.
Hope this helps.

~Lindsay, mama to Gunnar (5)  and George (brand new!) 
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#12 of 13 Old 05-10-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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I would also suggest that you ask to have your thyroid checked through a simple blood test. Hyperthyroidism can cause the symptoms you describe, as well as severe morning sickness when it develops during pregnancy. I didn't know any of this until three months ago when I was diagnosed with very low thyroid-stimulating hromone (TSH). Luckily in my case, it turned out to be "transient hyperthyroidism" which means it is due to the pregnancy and temporary. As of my last blood test, my levels are normal again. However, a friend of mine developed it during her first pregnancy several years ago and it did not resolve. She continues to struggle with exactly the symptoms you describe.

Happy mumma to my boys Henny Tom (Nov 30, 2008), Arlo Odie (Oct 5, 2010), and Littlest Lake due mid-Dec 2014.
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#13 of 13 Old 05-10-2010, 01:30 PM
 
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I was also going to suggest Thyroid problems. I had very similar symptoms following the birth of my DS. My midwives and family doc were dismissive and said it was probably anxiety/exhaustion/PPD, etc. Then, I went to the dentist for a filling and reacted to the epinephrine in the numbing shot. The dentist said that's often a sign of hyper-thyrodisim and told me to get my thyroid checked. My family doc openly said he thought that was crap but ordered the labs anyway, and sure enough, I was CRAZY hyper. I refused the radioactive scans due to nursing, and they referred me to an endocrinolgist who treated me for postpartum thyroiditis. She said thyroid problems are very typical in pregnancy and postpartum and that she believes our caregivers (OB/Midwives) are doing a grave disservice to women by not testing/following up more regularly, particularly when there are complaints of heart racing/anxiety post-partum. I was treated with a beta blocker to protect my heart and monitered, it came back down to normal shortly before DS was a year old and never swung into hypothyroidisim, which is typical for postpartum thyroiditis. Best of luck mama! The heart racing feeling is just awful!

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