Waking up at night with tachycardia

I have had a constant problem since I believe I began to go through menopause or maybe before because I have suffered with anxiety. Let me start by saying that I had a horrible childhood where I had nightmares and so much fear and I feel it has come back to try to suck me back into this horrible place I was as a child.

Let me say I have also had surgery for SVT in 2000 and then AFIB in 2010 but this seems to be different where it only happens during the night.

With that being said, I have had for over the last ten years problems where I wake up at night with my heart racing with all the signs of anxiety. I looked up what it said about anxiety and I have it all. As a child I used to wet the bed and I feel that was anxiety. Now my heart wakes me either I have had a bad dream, feel like someone was chasing me or me being very angry at someone. My heart has gone up as high as 140 bpm. Sometimes I can calm myself down and sometimes I have to take my metopropolol to calm it down. I am so sick of this. It is like my adreneline kicks in and here we go off to the races. I am so angry and tired of this problem. The other day I slept two hours drove 8 hours and then did not eat lunch until 3:30. This brought on an attack during the night where my heart was around 140 - 150 bpm. I took my metopropolol and it brought it down some, I went back to sleep and woke up and it was still 100. What a night. I went to the doctor and he gave me restoril and samples of lunestra. I am kind of afraid of the restoril because of the side effects. These attacks only happen at night. I notice since my childhood was so horrible filled with so much fear that I will be thinking and these thoughts will come in my head about horrible things happening and I role play them in my mind. I am learning though when the thoughts come to just pray and push out of the way. I don't know if these anxiety attacks come on because I am settled and my mind begins to role play a horrible situation.
I know I am rambling on but has anyone experienced this. I am very much into alternative changes but i am so over this and would love to sleep without the help of some type of drug. This never happens during the day. Any one experienced this.
No disrespect but I just want to know if anyone has experienced this and have you found things to help. I don't want to go down a road with this where there is not hope. I need positive reinforcement because I have had enough negative in my life.

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Hi there,

I only started getting tachycardia when I reacted badly to a tablet they gave me in hospital to control my heart rate after my heart attack unfortunately they do come back and only at night. Your comments stood out to me because I had tachycardia after a bad dream just 2 nights ago and as you explained you have these very regularly, I can in a small way understand your frustration and upset at this. It must be very hard for you. I sought comfort first by phoning a medical phone line where there is someone to talk to - as it is happening, to get some understanding from someone who can reassure me it is not a life-threatening event. In England this is 111 but am not sure where you live. Otherwise I have been taught relaxation which sometimes helps: breathe in slowly through the nose making sure it is your stomach which is inflating as you breathe in, then breathe out through your mouth very slowly and repeat this till you notice yourself starting to relax. I get anxiety and have been told that in order to relax properly I should do 1 hour relaxation a day. I am not sure if this is your practise but it might help. Really though, I found great help in going to see a cognitive behavoural therapist. I talked through a lot of things and it has helped me to get my perspective on life sorted so I realise that I can make my thought life as positive as I choose. Keep a positive diary of the little lovely things that happen to you everyday and it really helps to read this when you are feeling down or upset. Our thought life is so important to our health and I really pray for you that you will be able to focus on the positive things you have in your life. I am not at all medical so I would also say is it worth getting a second medical opinion?

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Yes I do. I had terrible anxiety and all-out panic attacks after my heart attack. I would wake up some nights gasping with my heart pounding and my thoughts racing. And I'm doing so much better now. There are alot of things that can help you. I don't know if you've tried but therapy helped me alot. And I'm not a psychologist, but judging from what you said about your childhood it might help you work through this. Some people also benefit from meditation or massage therapy. I know some people (on this site) listen to tapes that help them relax. They suggested this guided meditation/relaxation CD: Paul Overman's 10 minutes to relax". I also find that exercise helps. Honestly, it will get better. It did for me and I was a walking disaster!
I'm so sorry you had such a horrible childhood. It's so unfair that some people have to go through abusive and frightening experiences. I hope in time those memories will fade and you will feel safe and loved.

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Hi jfcmedc,

Something I learned recently is that one's emotions often manifest as physical symptoms:https://www.healthtap.com/user_questions/63932-can-getting-upset-about-some thing-cause-tachycardia

Our physical symptoms could be highly correlated with our negative thoughts and anxiety. I think it's important to manage our emotions along with our physical symptoms to stay healthy! I really hope you'll feel better and don't have to wake up at night again!


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YES!!!! I have it only at night and i wake up from a dream or something. I only started this when i started menopause or just before it. My heart rate gets higher then yours.. 180 to 220 feels like a flutter. I am hot to the touch on my stomach and chest but not sweating. Just very hot to the touch. Lasts about 15 to 30 minutes and calms down. Classic panic attack. I get the hightened fear and the visions of the paremedics having to come. The what if's... The am i going to die or have a heart attack. My mom died of a heart attack and I vision her.. All these irrantional thoughts make it worse and lead to longer harder panic. Since i have been in a group for panic and anxiety "which ive always had" It has gotten much better. My coping skills are helping and i am not having attacks as frequent. Also my doc said because when i sleep that my heart rate gets very low.. In the 50s that that also can bring on a A-fib to try to catch back up and goes out of control. Idk what to think any more. I do know that the menopause has alot to do with it for sure. Im 46 and have been only having a period every 5 months now for about 3 years. Im hoping for an answer soon to. Good luck and im with you in your episodes at night. Hang in there. :)

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For the past month since my chest pains and spasms have worsened, I wake up at either 5am or 4am every "bloom'n" morning ... with my heart going "MENTAL". I am 48 and have been peri-menopausal for 2-3 years now. Night sweats for the first 2 years. Then two weeks ago I had my first "hot flushes" ... how exciting is this! (NOT)

Plus I normally go to sleep quickly, but have found my heart going "loopy" lately, makes it harder for me to get to sleep.

My GP suggested eating some phytoestrogens (flax seed and tofu are the two best sources)? I'm off to the shops today.

WATCH this space ... I am going to get to the bottom of this Hormone/Oestrogen/Heart correlation thing!

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I also have tachycardia. Sometimes my heart beats so hard & fast it feels like it'll explode. Once in the ER they used a drug to stop my heart 3 times to try to get my heart rate down. Now it happens when I'm relaxing, there don't seem to be any triggers I can identify. I also have Prinzmetals angina, my father had it as well. It's complicated by fibro, but my cardiologist said its definitely Prinzmetals.

I had an angiogram, the dr couldn't believe I was 57 (at the time). He said my heart & arteries were in better shape than someone half my age. Absolutely no plaque or blockages. With all the cardio meds I'm on they can't understand why my BP & heart rate are so high. The nitro tabs don't work all the time, I read the take 2 & go to ER on the 3rd one. I've done this in the past & they try to tell me it's acid reflux and give me a stomach cocktail to swallow, which doesn't help. Half the ER drs don't even know what Prinzmetals is.

I was recently dxd with APLS, Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome. I've read it can cause heart trouble including tachycardia & Prinzmetals. Its an autoimmune disorder with no cure, I have to take blood thinners the rest of my life. I haves cardio monitor on my iPhone, my normal pulse is 112 during the day, even when I wake up. It's so frustrating, I seem to know more about these conditions than the drs, but I can't treat myself.

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Sorry if this is a stupid question, but just to make sure, you regularly take your metoporal every day and possibly every evening (I have always had 2 doses) and you are not just using it when you go tachychardia correct??? So when you take your metoporal after an event is that an extra dose???

I ask all this because my two doses of metoporal keep my tachycardia in control pretty much but found out that just missing less than 24 hours (2 doses) I went back into tachycardia really fast. So if you aren't taking it daily/regularly I just wanted to put that out there that it would help control normal tachycardia...but if it is anxiety base then you need to add some anti anxiety meds to your regime. I was put on Clonazapam for the reason of not being able to sleep more than 2 or 3 hours a night or ever because apparently I was so traumitized my my heart event and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. Yep the same thing soldiers come home from war with.

I hope something that I posted helped you and doesn't come across stupid or like I am a total dunce...but these were the questions and thoughts that came to me while reading your post.

Best wishes,


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I would suggest you go get a 48 hour holter monitor so you know exactly what kind of tachycardia you are having. Assuming it isn't a panic attack, from my (limited) understanding, your heart can have rhythm issues related to fast or slow rates. For example, in my case, all of my rhythm issues happen when my heart is naturally at a lower rate, so when I'm just hanging on the couch at night or lying in bed, and yes, even when I'm sleeping. If I'm up and active, I'm not ever going to have any problems. Have you gone back and discussed this with the EP (I'm assuming) who did your surgery for SVT and A-fib?

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I appreciate all of your comments. One of my issues that I am working on and succeeding is that I get these visions in my mind of something bad happening and before I know it they are there. I pray a lot and ask God to help me to block these thoughts out. I am working now on instead of crawling in bed and watching tv to get my bible and read and pray to calm me down. This has helped me tremendously but i am not there yet. I am a work in progress. I exercise regularly, I take my metopropolol like I should and I eat right and I have adjusted my diet where I eat no sugar. I am 5 ft 4 in. tall and weigh 123 pounds.

I have researched all avenues and being a survivor of a child with an awful childhood, I have gained strength through the pain I suffered that i can say. I have a determination that I can do anything and I will make it through this. God has me here for a reason and this is only a big rock that I have to move out of the way. It can be crippling when you get up in the morning after the frightening experience of waking up with your heart racing. I want to say REALLY not again.

Thanks for all your comments. I was put on clonopin at one time and it helped tremendously. Just did not want to take it for a long period of time.

With my episode the other night I went to the doctor and he gave me restiril (sleeping aid) but I read it can give you nightmares. I don't need any more nightmares. He also heard a bruie in my throat which means possible blocked artery but the have heard that forever and never found anything from the tests.

That's my story and thank you guys so much for your input. It's nice to have someone who experiences these things and you can just vent to them. I am good and plan on getting only better. I am a work in progress

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Oh by the way when I do get these attacks I try to breathe through my noise and draw long deep breaths to pull air in and out from my diagram. Helps

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kimmief I have discussed this with them. Here is the problem, and I mean no disrespect to the medical field because they helped me tremendously with my heart issues with my ablation, but they always want to put a bandaid on it and I always believe there is a root to this. I have had the halter monitor but now I don't have insurance. Health insurance is not for the sick but for the healthy. So now my medical help is very limited. I am taking this one step at a time and I am determined that I will make it through this. Positive attitude goes a long way. I have a lot of faith and that is what I rely on. It is not like I am standing on shaky ground. But I just wondered if anyone here knew of any web site they had read or anything that I do not know about that had helped them and I have been given some pretty thought provoking information and I appreciate that.

I am doing alot of research into alternative ways and also adjusting my diet to eat healthy, exercise and a positive attitude. I will remain under the doctor's care but I don't want to be anyone's ginny pig. Heck sometimes they don't know what is going on themselves. This is my body and I can't second guess how I feel. This is real and at times fearful when I wake up.

You are all wonderful women and thanks for your information.

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Dear jfcmedc,

Its great to hear of your finding help in God. He is our comfort when we are obedient to His word and trust him through our trials. Psalm 23 proves what a great comfort He gives to those going through a valley experience. I will be praying for you.

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Mark 11:22-24 New King James Version (NKJV)
22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

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The two major suggestions I would have are these:

1) EMDR - This is a type of therapy that involves bilateral eye movement or tactile stimulation (buzzers) whilst "unraveling" and recalling the emotionally difficult experiences in one's life. It is a widely used protocol in military trauma (and you know that's bad!) and just regular trauma. That kind of trauma could stem from childhood abuse, fears of the dark, seeing an accident, feeling persecuted in school, rape, sexual abuse, family violence, emotional abuse, heart experiences that were or are unpleasant (traumatic hospital experiences), feeling powerless, voiceless, trapped, depressed, on and on.

I have experienced this therapy myself, having logged quite a number of sessions (I am a frequent flyer with it, cause I know it's so powerful), and my husband, who is a clinical psychologist, when through the training and 2 year supervision of cases for full certification. It is not tapping (though that can be helpful, but perhaps not as much so for more major traumas), but it does require that you remember and explore the trauma, and where it leads you emotionally - because all our trauma is like a big web in our brains, like a net...and it does not come forth in a linear fashion, but more like unraveling a sweater. You need a well qualified therapist to work with you, because although the emotions become discharged, one can be unsure of what normal is, particularly when you are in the memory states of childhood or trauma. That can be both disorienting and confusing. This person helps you perform "safe" techniques if you become extremely distraught and or, only allows a small amount of trauma (as much as you can handle per session) to become uncorked. And, a responsible therapist gives you a phone number to contact them, day or night, should you feel like you are unstable. I had that happen myself after my first deep session (I was in the bathtub, crying). There is a pre-EMDR process of history taking (both emotional and physical) to make sure the person can handle it successfully, because some people may not be solid enough in their emotional state - and it could theoretically destabilize them (such as if they had bipolar or some other mental illness tendencies).

What I am seeing and hearing in your words, is that you don't want to remember and you have chosen to forget, and you have relied on prayer and faith to get you through. The problem is this: the body has it's own memory and does not forget - until you honor the brain, body and emotions and they function happily and in coherence. Contrary to artylouise's good experiences, cognitive behavioral therapy can go on for years, and my husband feels strongly that CBT is far less effective and takes so much more time to get to a conclusive result, that he feels that it's wrong to use it in some circumstances. (He was trained in CBT and practiced that primarily for years). He still does in the right circumstances, but not generally with trauma). He is giving a presentation at an organization this month, on his rationale for using it (EMDR), and success with, a different and very resistant to change population.

Like you, I had some major childhood trauma and like you, I have heart issues - where I felt like I would die daily. I may still have sensations like that, but I no longer suffer emotionally and live in that fear. And because I was able to remove the trauma with EMDR, I don't think about those situations, and when I have, they don't have a negative charge. It's like a passing fact - not a traumatizing memory that can bring me to distress and pain. And, new things don't affect me as much.

I sought out a MFT (marriage/family therapist) who had over 30 years working with clients (highly recommended) - and who also happened to have been a nurse. I felt that combo was safe enough for me, should I have a heart event in the office. It is absolutely true - going through those sessions felt both great and terrible. I didn't like dredging up all of it, and the deeper you dredge and the more you confront - the faster you get rid of it. it's not fun though and it's not cheap. But it works. If you are interested, try EMDRIA.org, where you will find the directory of licensed qualified professionals in EMDR.

2) The second suggestion is be sure you don't have a sleep disorder. The brain will wake you up with an adrenaline rush when you are not getting enough oxygen, either through apnea or hypopnea (obstruction or shallow oxygen). My sleep issues are moderate, yet they played a role for YEARS, with waking me up startled (that's cause the brain calls out an oxygen emergency and shoots some adrenaline out into the body) so that I would BREATHE. It seems that you have a fairly strong awareness that it falls more under the repetitive dreams/nightmare/terrors, so it may not apply to you, but it's worth consideration. I go to a Board Certified Sleep Medicine doctor (Boards in Internal medicine, pulmonary medicine and sleep medicine). This again, involves a sleep study which is not cheap, but if you have heart issues, can make a huge difference between feeling well and halting progression and feeling badly and getting worse.

Those are my two bits for now ~ all the best to you. Please contact me if you have any questions. Mary

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Thanks Mary. I will look into this information that you have made available to me. It was most insightful. Yes, the root of the problem would be good. I want to be free of this junk and live life. Things are so so much better, but when it hits, it hits hard and keeps me down and frustrated for days.
I will have to tell you that my faith in God has brought me through some really tough situations and if it had not been for his mercy, I do not know what I would have done. Now I pray for the answer to this nightmare that has followed me.

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