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Palpitations and the vagus nerve
tank1068 posted:
Hi all, In my mid 20's I started having palpitations but only a few a year. I had it checked out, it was determined that I had a hiatal hernia that was causing irritation to my vagus nerve. I lived with that diagnosis until almost 3 years ago. I was lying in bed and my palpitations were worse then before, I went into a trigeminal (sp) arrhythmia. I went into the ER...this is where my two years of testing and 8 Dr later told me there is nothing wrong with my heart. I've had every heart test including CT scan of my heart, stress test, plaque test which at 45 was 0. I've complained for years that it felt like my PAC/PVC's started under my diaphragm. I've been a paid firefighter/EMT for 23 years so I know a little about the medical field. Every Dr blew off my theory that the palpitations were coming from my vagus nerve. I finally found a GI Dr that did a bunch of testing and found my cardiac sphincter did not work and I have severe reflux. The surgeon thought if he fixed it that it may help with my palpitations. I had the surgery Dec 12th, after almost 6 weeks of healing my palpitations have increased substantially. My thought it when he wrapped the sphincter he irritated the vagus nerve even more. My cardiologist doesn't think it's a big deal. I have hundreds of palpitations a day and it's affecting me, I get anxiety if I have too many in a row. Everyone tells me to relax but their not the ones having the issues. Is there anything that clams the vagus nerve? Is there anything I can do to stop these?

Oh side note, my cardiologist had tried a beta and calcium blocker, neither worked.
cardiostarusa1 responded:

Perhaps seeing a cardiologist who is also an electrophysiologist (EP) can help in the matter.

Info for the masses

The most common type of palpitations, premature ventricular contractions (PVCs, occurs even in many heart-healthy individuals), described that the heart is flip-flopping, jumping, pausing or stopping briefly (though it's actually not doing that), pounding, skipping, thumping, or strong, hard, or forceful beats being felt in the chest, neck, throat, has various causes (cardiac and non-cardiac) or triggers.

PVCs, are typically harmless, be it isolated (single), couplets (2-in-row), triplets (3-in-a-row) or salvos (short bursts of 3 or more in-a-row), bigeminy (occurring every other beat), trigeminy (occurring every third beat), quadrigeminy (occurring every fourth beat), etc., etc.

However, the main problem or concern (even more so, much more emphasized for those with certain major or serious heart conditions) with PVCs is when sustained ventricular tachycardia (runs of PVCs over 30 seconds) occurs.

Symptoms that may/can occur with PVCs includes none at all or chest pain/discomfort/pressure/tightness, difficulty breathing, lightheadedness or dizziness, and in uncommon to rare cases, near-syncope or syncope (temporary loss of consciousness, includes fainting and passing out).

- -

A recent reply (to a message) from WebMD's James Beckerman, MD, FACC -

"PVC's are generally not cause for concern unless a person is very symptomatic or their PVC's are associated with a structural heart abnormality, such as reduced heart function. In rare cases, very frequent PVC's can be associated with a decline in heart function, so follow-up with your doctor is appropriate if symptoms persist and are very frequent."


Best of luck down the road of life.

Take care,


WebMD member (since 8/99)



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tank1068 replied to cardiostarusa1's response:
Already saw one (one of the 8 Dr's I've already been to). Apparently I can throw over a hundred palpitations a day and it's no big deal.
cardiostarusa1 replied to tank1068's response:
It's certainly a big deal to the patient. We can sympathize with you on that.

I'm a 47-year-old male, and I get premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), but only when I'm about to enter the sleep cycle or have just entered it. This was confirmed during a sleep study that I had asked for..

Definitely worth mentioning here, some individuals, who have posted in this forum, and in other forums in the past, said that taking a magnesium supplement (and with their doctor being made aware of this, to avoid possible interactions) alone had helped reduce the number/frequency of their palpitations, and in some cases, eliminated it completely..

Take good care,




_ . _

Though PVCs or PACs typically does not damage the heart, is typically not serious or life-threatening in a structurally normal heart, some symptoms that may/can occur can surely make one feel/think otherwise.

PVCs or PACs may/can occur with/in the presence of bradycardia (heart rate under 60 BPM) or tachycardia (heart rate over 100 BPM).

_ . _
billh99 replied to tank1068's response:
I know that the vagus nerve is involved in a number of "automatic" body responses.

And that relaxation exercise can help control them. For example Yoga has be shown to help reduce AFIB.

It would not hurt to see if yoga, breathing exercises, medication, etc might help reduce your palpitations.

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