Questions and answers, vol 2

Today I woke up feeling like I'd overdone it yesterday - stiff and tired and with not much appetite. What a better time than this to say, oh, sod the dishes and sod being productive, I'll just nestle into this couch for half an hour and write up another answer to one of those questions below.

3. You wrote a while ago about dizzy spells that used to bother you and which you visited a doctor with, but the reasons behind them remained unknown. Has any solution come up?

Technically, no. The same heart palpitations and dizzy spells I started experiencing in July 2012 and wrote about here, here and here, have been with me ever since and so far there hasn't been any solution to it.

It's been a year and a half now, on and off, every few months or so, and I've sort of let this topic go. I feel that if I keep on pushing to find an answer I am going to be labelled a hypochondriac and I'm not a big fan of that - I prefer that my doctors actually believe me when I go to them with hayfever or a cold or whatever.

When I had quite a bad spell in December last year my GP organised getting me hooked up to a heart monitor straight away, and it was unfortunate because I had a "wave" and started fainting about a minute (!) before the heart monitor was on so we never got to record the thing.

Then a few months later when I wore a heart monitor on my chest for 24 hours, of course I didn't have any spells or palpitations either, so that wasn't much use.

I've had an x-ray, I've had an ultrasound and I've met a cardiologist, but there's nothing mechanically wrong with my heart: all the valves are functioning, blood flow is good, nothing's... wrong. Except, of course, for the fact then every now and again I can feel, literally!, my heart pumping erratically for a few seconds and every few months I'll have a day or two when I get dizzy spells.

I wish I had a heart monitor on me when it happens because I wish I could press that button and then when we look at that chart with a cardiologist I could say, "That! That was that! Can you please have a look and tell me, what the hell is that!?"

But it hasn't happened, we haven't been able to actually catch it whilst it's happening and to be honest, when I was talking to my cardiologist, I can understand why the guy was dismissive of me because he deals with people that actually die from their heart problems and here there was a girl who apparently has nothing mechanically wrong with her heart but who says to him that she gets palpitations and dizzy spells.

Basically, I think he simply thought I'm "that type of a woman" who gets panic attacks, which I can't blame him for, except that... I don't agree with him.

I know that my heart palpitations happen mostly when I'm either bending forward or bending down, so they seem to be happening when my heart is in that position in my chest, which sounds pretty mechanical to me. And when I get dizzy spells, I've been keeping track of them on a calendar and there is absolutely no correlation whatsoever with my menstrual cycle or how much exercise I've had or what I've eaten or whether it's been a stressful time - it just bloody happens, out of the blue, and most of the time it starts at night when it wakes me up from sleep (! which, by the way, is not an easy thing to do because I'm a heavy sleeper).

But for now I've learned to cope with it, and when it happens I kneel down on the floor so I can't topple, or if I'm sitting already then I'll lean back so I can't topple forward, and if I happen to be driving, I slow down and pull over immediately.

And I'll just let it keep on going like that until something changes, I guess, which - I hope! - is the right way forward.


  1. Anonymous10.12.13

    I had something similar. A doctor said that there could be too much pressure on the heart or some artery when bending forward, and that's why the heart starts acting in this unusual way. The ultrasound gets made when you lie straight on your back, so there is no pressure on anything. In my case the back is too curved (due to a very old spinal injury and growing too tall too fast in puberty), so the pressure on the heart is easy to come. In your case ... no idea. I wonder do these African women who always carry stuff on top of their heads and walk very straight ever get heart problems?
    I also have thyroid problems, so maybe this kind of heart problem only happens to women who have thyroid issues?

    1. what sort of a thyroid problem do you have, may i ask?

  2. Anonymous11.12.13

    Sorry, I cannot remember anymore. For a while there was too much of the thyroid hormone, then there was not enough ... Right now - 15 years after it was diagnosed - the hormone levels are normal but it may not stay this way. Also, the heart problems have somewhat ceased over the years, now the palpitations are mostly a signal some infection (like sinuses).

  3. Kaatje11.12.13

    Thank you for answering my question. And I'm sorry to hear that the problem is still there. I had been thinking about these spells and that's why I asked. As you hadn't mentioned them for awhile I hoped they were gone but well... I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  4. Anonymous11.12.13

    Sorry to hear you don't have an answer. It must be frustrating not to know the cause. Just wanted to mention that you don't have to be of certain type or stressed to have panic attacks... it's not a sign of craziness or weakness, it can just happen. I hope you'll find the diagnosis.

  5. Anonymous12.12.13 This lady had similar fainting spells...