Extrasystoles and the Heart: Symptoms, Causes and Remedies

Extrasystoles and the Heart: Symptoms, Causes and Remedies. I will start off by saying that the condition characterized by extrasystoles (premature heart beats) is not dangerous and is highly unlikely to pose any serious health problems. In simple words, an extrasystole is a premature or faster heart beat occurring in many absolutely healthy individuals. It is estimated that 1 in 2 people will experience the condition at one point in their lifetime. Extrasystoles improve and disappear completely with vitamin and mineral supplementation and lifestyle changes.

Extrasystoles may affect perfectly healthy children, adolescents, adults and older people without posing any health risks whatsoever. I first experienced extrasystoles about 15 years ago and, as you can see, I am still alive and happy today. I started noticing some irregularities in my heart beat when I was alone at home, laying in my bed. I also noticed that when I was in the company of other people, having a pleasant time, they disappeared like magic.

Extrasystoles

When you are laying in bed, just before falling asleep, and you feel like your heart is either skipping a beat or going a heartbeat too fast, it is natural to feel scared and think that maybe something is wrong. At first I was scared too and sought medical advice to calm my fears down. But the extrasystoles did not stop even after getting reassurance from my doctor that my heart was perfectly healthy. Eventually, I learnt how to manage them. Here is my personal experience about how I successfully dealt with extrasystoles.

What I learnt causes my extrasystoles: I noticed that hearing sudden, loud noises or being woken up unexpectedly from my sleep not only made me anxious, frightened or stressed, but also triggered my extrasystoles. When I would calm down, my heartbeat got back to normal. A scientific explanation for this is that the body, believing it is in imminent danger, reacts instinctively by increasing anxiety and stress levels, to prepare for an attack. Stress, anxiety, fear are emotions that may trigger extrasystoles by the negative impact they have on our body. But as soon as we calm down, extrasystoles stop too.

The causes for my extrasystoles were almost always stress and anxiety. For example, my favorite thing to do is go for a bike ride in the countryside where I live. Breathing fresh air and feeling the warm sun rays on my skin fully relaxes me. And although I sometimes rode my bike for miles, I never experienced extrasystoles. But when I started worrying about having to get up in the middle of the night to work, or stressing about how to pay my bills, the condition started bothering me again.

Since I had went to my doctor for a thorough checkup, including an EKG (electrocardiogram), and found out I was perfectly healthy, I knew there couldn’t be something physically wrong with me. Almost 95% of extrasystoles cases occur as a result of stress and anxiety and are not caused by a physical problem of the heart.

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Another cause for extrasystoles is smoking. According to statistics, smoking is the number 1 cause of cardiovascular disease, especially in men. Smoking also causes extrasystoles so giving up cigarettes will certainly improve the quality of your life. An excessive intake of sugar, honey and other similar sweeteners can cause heart rhythm abnormalities as well. Coffee drinkers are also at risk of experiencing extrasystoles as a result of the caffeine in coffee.

For some people, eating too much dark chocolate or cocoa or drinking excessive amounts of tea also causes extrasystoles. Dark chocolate, black coffee and green and black tea are powerful stimulants and some people are simply much too sensitive to them. Everyday tea and coffee contain stimulants such as theine and caffeine which excite the cardiovascular system and cause extrasystoles so drastically reducing your intake of coffee and tea will help you immensely. Read more about the side effects of drinking coffee and which is better: coffee or tea in the morning.

You might find this funny, but sometimes, when I feel the urge to pee and still hold it in a little bit more, I get extrasystoles. Moreover, not getting enough sleep might put your body into overdrive and cause extrasystoles, or even low blood pressure. So make sure you are not sleep-deprived.

Because I went through the same thing some of you are going through now, I wholeheartedly recommend that you go see your doctor and ask for an ECG or EKG test (an electrocardiogram). What happens during an EKG or ECG? A family doctor or cardiologist will place some small metal discs called electrodes on your chest, arms and legs (usually wrists and ankles). You just have to lie still on a bed for several minutes (5-10) while the machine to which the electrodes are attached measures your heart’s electrical activity. An EKG will simply confirm that your extrasystoles, and possibly other symptoms, are no reason for concern.

How I take care of my extrasystoles: Because extrasystoles are not an indication of any heart problem, I am against taking any medication. After all, I have a healthy heart. But I do have some tips to make extrasystoles more manageable so the condition doesn’t interfere with daily life. In the evening, before going to sleep, I like to drink a cup of herbal tea. My favorites are hawthorn, sea buckthorn tea, lemon balm, chamomile, passionflower because they relax me and the warmth of the tea makes me sleepy. These herbal teas are also natural herbal remedies for anxiety.

Keeping stress levels low is also very important for managing extrasystoles so make sure you do something you enjoy every now and then. Some people like cleaning the house when they are alone, others would enjoy a good comedy movie or listening to their favorite music. I like riding my bike in solitary places, where I am surrounded by trees, maybe lie down by the bed of a river and watch ducks or seagulls. Always keep in mind that life is beautiful and that you deserve to enjoy it and you will have no more troubles with extrasystoles.

49 Replies to “Extrasystoles and the Heart: Symptoms, Causes and Remedies”

  1. Anyway, Monday I’ll go to the cardiologist to make ECG and blood test to see what causes my problem. I’m a bit afraid but I must be strong.

    • It’s great that you are going to the cardiologist. I am confident the test results will be alright. Like I said, it is possible your extrasystoles are caused by a potassium and magnesium deficiency, which is the most common cause in healthy people and reversible. You are a young and healthy person and shouldn’t have anything to worry about, but it’s great you are going to the doctor anyway. Looking to hear back from you after you get the results. If you have more questions then, feel free to ask.

  2. My home doctor told me that they are caused because I’m still growing and she saw my blood results, everything is ok but I must wait to Monday to make ECG. Doctor gave me Bedoxin 20mg. I’ts vitamin B tablets. So because I’m not thinking about my extrasystoles I do not feel them anymore and I’m relaxed. When I’ll get results from ECG I’ll tell you how they are. Thank you!

    • Hello, Bojan. It seems your doctor gave you vitamin B6 supplements, probably based on the blood test results and symptoms you have described. B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12) all have benefits for brain and nervous system health and can help keep you relaxed and reduce the side effects of stress, including arrhythmias like extrasystoles. B vitamins are good for digestion and help in the synthesis of neurotransmitters for the brain (especially B6) and absorption of other nutrients, which could improve a variety of conditions including extrasystoles. And now that you’ve had the blood tests and know you are healthy, it has made you more relaxed and improved your extrasystoles even more. You should feel even better after you have the EKG and see that you have a healthy heart too.
      Like the doctor told you, since you are still growing and are an active person (muscles consume lots of minerals and vitamins during exercise and you lose even more when you sweat), you probably have higher nutritional requirements and need some supplements to help give your body all the nutrients it needs. Waiting to hear from you after the EKG and wishing you lots of health.

  3. I did today ECHO on my heart and EKG. I did it at the best cardiologist here in my country. He said that my heart is super good and my heart valve is a little longer because I’m a tall person and I’m an athlete. Because I was afraid I had a little tachycardia, so he calmed me down and everything was ok. The doctor said that there are no worries and I must be calm. She noticed no extrasystoles in the echocardiogram and electrocardiogram. So now I’m relaxed and I’m not afraid anymore. And I’m finally sure that I’m healthy! Thank you for assisting me!

    • Hello, Bojan. I am so happy for you. Really, the whole point of going to the doctor and having the EKG and ECHO was to be sure you are healthy. And now that you have confirmation there is nothing wrong with your heart, your extrasystoles might stop altogether (if they were amplified by stress). If they don’t, you will know to address causes that are unrelated to your heart: stress, lack of sleep, B vitamin deficiency, magnesium deficiency and potassium deficiency. Remember, because you are an athlete, you might have higher requirements for certain vitamins and minerals (sweating and physical exercise cause you to lose more nutrients), but a good diet and some quality supplements might be everything you need to overcome any future extrasystoles. Wishing you lots of health and best of luck with you career!

  4. I am a retired GP from U.K. I am experiencing extrasystoles at random. I am a sports person and still walks 6-8 miles a week. Dropped beat does not give me any trouble but I become anxious whether I may have a stroke.
    I used to get dropped beat in the past after a while after doing a run on the road or exertional work, but used to get normal after a day. I am hypertensive and take ACE inhibitor and diuretics. But as the blood pressure was not satisfactory my doctor had added betablocker Bisoprolol and since I have started it I have noticed frequent dropped beat. Do you think Bisoprolol may be responsible?
    I had routine EKG two month ago and reported to be normal, My blood pressure is marginally better. I am also insulin diabetes and have good control.
    Please advise me. Do I need to see a cardiologist? I am 73 yeas old and still quite fit.
    Kind regards, M. Rahman.

    • Hello, Mr. Rahman. First of all, it’s always a good idea to see a cardiologist for anything heart-related that might bother you. If anything, it will put your mind at ease and save you the worry. This being said, it’s just as important to know yourself well so you can tell if something is not right and see a doctor in time.

      You say you are worried you may have a stroke. Extrasystoles alone are not considered a risk factor for stroke, but other medical conditions, especially cardiovascular ones can contribute to higher risks over time. For example, high blood pressure is known to increase the risk for stroke and aortic aneurysms. Seen that you are hypertensive and worry about the possibility of a stroke, it’s important to learn what symptoms to look for to get ahead of such an event if it ever occurs. Here are the most common symptoms of a stroke:

      1) Sudden weakness in the face muscles or feeling your face or part of it is numb. Example: if you try to smile, but only manage to smile with half of your face, the other half drooping.
      2) Arm or leg weakness. If you try to lift both arms up and one falls down because you lose muscle control or experience a sudden and extreme weakness, then it’s possible you are having a stroke. Both the arm and leg on one of the two sides of the body may be affected by weakness, numbness or sudden muscle rigidity.
      3) Speech problems. You suddenly cannot speak, utter nonsense or do not understand what other people are telling you.
      If you experience one or all three symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately or ask someone to get you medical help as soon as possible.
      Also check any serious leg, back or abdominal pain that occurs unexpectedly and apparently inexplicably.

      Considering you are hypertensive and diabetic, it is important to remember to avoid straining exercises. Normally, when you exercise, your blood pressure rises, but if you already have high blood pressure, it can be dangerous for it to rise even more. So while keeping active is healthy, some experts feel hypertensive people should avoid any physical activity that is too strenuous. Light physical exercise in the form of walking, stretching or simple yoga exercises, riding a bike or doing simple house chores should offer good levels of activity, keep muscles working with little strain on the cardiovascular system.

      Just as important, know that all medication comes with side effects and some medicines cause adverse reactions of the likes of the conditions they are meant to treat. For example, the beta-blocker you have been prescribed is said to produce side effects such as irregular heartbeat in the form of extraystoles, slow heart rate or complications such as ischemia or heart failure. It can further cause weight gain which could worsen diabetes symptoms over time. Other side effects include swelling from water retention which could contribute to high blood pressure. Diuretics may also cause loss of vital heart nutrients such as potassium and magnesium which could further accentuate your hypertension.

      Has your doctor recommended you supplement with potassium and magnesium for better blood pressure? Considering you are taking diuretics which accentuate nutritional deficiencies and seen that both nutrients are essential for good blood pressure and heart rhythm, you should make sure you get enough of both on a daily basis. The recommended daily intake of magnesium for an average adult on a 2000 kcal diet is 420 mg, while the recommended daily intake of potassium is 4700 mg a day. The minerals can be recommended as an adjuvant therapy for hypertensive individuals along with medication and can provide impressive benefits over time. You should talk to your cardiologist about the subject and figure out what the best intake is for you considering the specificity of your condition.

      Lastly, diet is crucial for cardiovascular and overall good health. Reducing salt intake considerably, eating at home and cooking your own meals from scratch, eating complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbohydrates, avoiding eating too much leafy green vegetables (they are best eaten in moderation because they are rich in vitamin K and vitamin K causes thicker blood and a higher risk for blood clots) are important aspects to consider. Also, avoid smoking, coffee, caffeinated beverages, green tea, black, white and oolong tea, energy drinks, alcohol and manage stress for better cardiovascular health. If you have any more questions, I am happy to answer them. Wishing you lots of health!

  5. Do I need an EKG and Echo? I had booked long holidays in end of Feb. 18 for New Zealand for a month. Do you think we can make it?
    Many thanks for your response. Kind regards, Rahman.

    • Hello, Mr. Rahman. I cannot give you medical advice or tell you to go on holiday or not. Only your doctor can make such recommendations based on knowledge of your medical history and assessments of your health. If you are feeling unwell or have been experiencing various symptoms that could indicate a cardiovascular pathology, then you need to see your doctor and decide together what you should do next, what tests you should have to better asses your condition etc. Knowing you have been experiencing extrasystoles and that they have gotten worse, you should talk to your doctor or, even better, a cardiologist about this and ask if there is reason for concern given you age, existing medical issues and medication you are on. See what the doctor says and, based on his or her professional opinion, decide your next steps. Make sure you tell the doctor any symptoms you have noticed, even if they may not appear important.

      What I can tell you though is how the EKG and Echo might help you. For example, knowing you are worried about a stroke, a stress echocardiogram (stress echo) could help assess heart wall movements in response to stress (physical stress from physical effort). An abnormality in wall movements could show if there is a risk for ischemia of the coronary arteries. Even a normal echo assesses the health of the major heart blood vessels and could identify blood clots, if there are any.

      An electrocardiogram (EKG) can identify any existing heart rhythm abnormalities, from extrasystoles to slow heart rate, abnormally fast heart rhythm or palpitations. While they may be harmless, they may also help predict the risks of various cardiovascular events. So having an EKG could help you know all of this. You can learn almost everything about your heart with these two tests, from structural abnormalities and defects to how it works overall. It could help to know that both the EKG and Echo are non-invasive tests, do not require any preparation at all and do not have side effects.
      Hope this helps and wishing you lots of health!

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