Pulmonary Embolism Support Group

By far the most common form of pulmonary embolism is a thromboembolism, which occurs when a blood clot, generally a venous thrombus, becomes dislodged from its site of formation and embolizes to the arterial blood supply of one of the lungs. Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, pain during breathing, and more rarely circulatory instability and death.

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Heart palpitations after a PE

Hi y'all!

I'm brand new here and so glad I found you. This looks like THE place to be for support and advice.

I was released yesterday from the hospital after going in for a ct scan, which showed two small clots in my right lung. These were small pieces from a clot in my knee, where I had recently had surgery. A tiny piece remains in my knee, but the hematologist assured me that it is too small to cause any damage.

While in the hospital, I generally felt fine, except for shortness of breath when I walked around my room for a couple of minutes. But it seems that now, at home, I am experiencing new symptoms, and I don't know if this normal.

I was sitting in the recliner, legs elevated, watching tv, when my heart suddenly began pounding. It lasted only 3 or 4 seconds, but it was intense. Also, I seem to be very light-headed at times. Has anybody else experienced this? Should I be worried? I hate to call my doctor over every little unusual symptom. And when does this shortness of breath go away?

Thanks for any help.

Replies

cave76
cave76

The shortness of breath may go away or it may not. Sorry----- but that's what many find here----- I'm going to guess that yours will go away since your PE was fairly small.

About the racing heart:

It's never wise to ignore any heart symptom. Although a one time, short duration racing heart may be just that---- one time.

But I'm not advising you to ignore it. Ask your doctor if you're worried.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Thank you. I had a complete cardio workup in the hospital, and everything was great, so I won't worry about it, but I will mention it to my doctor when I go in tomorrow for my bloodwork.
cave76
cave76

That's good news, opiesmom. Keep on healing.
TossNTurn
TossNTurn

I had something similar happen to me the day after I got out of the hospital. Was sitting at home, surfing the web and reading about PEs and suddenly my heartrate skyrocketed. I wound up going back to the ER via ambulance and it wound up just be anxiety. They gave me Ativan and sent me home.

I know you may not consciously FEEL anxious but our bodies are dealing with a lot and I think sometimes that manifests in weird ways. I was totally numb while I was in the hospital and shaking myself out of that was really odd and took a few weeks.

I mean, absolutely keep your doc in the loop on these things, but everything you describe is pretty par for the course.

I had light-headedness and stuff after my PE too. Just make sure you are staying really hydrated. Your body needs water anyway and after a trauma like this, you need to be really diligent about making sure that you're getting enough. For me, staying hydrated and getting enough electrolytes has been really helpful.

Also, any question you have that starts with "when will" or "how long" has the same answer ... "it depends." Most of us get roughly the same symptoms, but we get them it varying severities and at different times. I also had the SOB when I was diagnosed. In fact, it was pretty much my only symptom. The exhaustion and pain kicked up much later (about four weeks after diagnosis) when I was just pushing myself too hard. Your lungs have a lot of healing to do and some days you'll push a little too hard and wind up paying the price with new and/or increased symptoms for a while. It takes a while to sort it all out. For some folks, they never have SOB and for others it can drag on for weeks.

One thing that I can tell you that is pretty much universally true ... none of us ever recover as fast as we want/expect to. Hang in there! Keep us posted!
jmac67
jmac67

i noticed my heart racing lots of times - i used to wake from a sleep with it pounding out of my chest so its not as though it resulted from exercise - i mentioned it to the dr a few times but my heart scan showed all was ok therefore no one was ever worried about it. As for the shortness of breath - i didnt ever notice this til about 3 months after the event - it lasted a few months and then eventually wore off - if i do too much it comes back to remind me to slow down but generally its not too bad - im 7 1/2 months out now. I do sometimes still notice my heart racing but only really after ive been on the go for a while. I also had dizzy spells - quite severe in the first month however they also died off quite a bit - again i notice them still if i do too much but nothing that i cant handle.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I had something similar too and about 7 months out now, I still get them occasionally, they are getting less and less frequent though it seems, as well as weaker too =).

I'm a different case though I reckon as my clots were causing Severe Pulmonary Hypertension (causing a constant rate of 133 with irregular ECG readings), every time I get tested for it, nothing happens, even had an ambulatory ECG done for 48 hours recently...4 hours after I took it off, I had an episode of it, lol, typical no?

What I got told was short episodes like this are often nothing to worry about and in my case could well be a recovery sign more than anything more sinister going on and that even if they catch it, if my ECG shows a regular rhythm, they wouldn't do anything much about it as it's a safe reading, as long as I wasn't in A.F or something, nothing would change...
deleted_user
deleted_user

I was having these for a while, too.

I had an echo and a pulmonary function test and all is well. I notice that since i started exercising again, my HR has gone back down to where it was prior the the PEs (mine were in November). So, I think the exercsing is really helping me heal. Although it's been 6 months, the majority of my healing is probably done (at least according to what I've read).

I also wonder if the warfarin occassionally causes the palpitations, too.

I think it's a combination of it all. Warfarin, anxiety, the PE/healing process, etc.
TossNTurn
TossNTurn

@M2LR

Oh, I dunno about that "six months." With my first DVT, I saw improvements up to two years out. With my PEs, still drastic changes at ten months. I'm 2.5 years out now and I still see little changes in my activity-tolerance levels from month to month. I really think improvements can continue to happen for quite a while.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Oh I agree. I was referring more just to myself and what my doctor told me.

I didn't have a DVT or anything to heal from and without any more scans I really don't know.

I do know that for myself, just adding my exercise back into everything has helped a lot too. So, who knows! :)
deleted_user
deleted_user

Thanks everybody. This is so helpful...so much more so than speaking with a doctor whose mind may be on his next patient or schedule or whatever... Y'all have been there, done that!
Lynnedz56
Lynnedz56

Glad I found this. The last few weeks now and again, I get those heart palpitations. And they only last a few seconds. And I am at almost 7 months. Today it happened at work and I had my watch which tracks my heart rate. When that happened, my heart went to 158 and then back to 70. In my case I have other medical conditions along with pulmonary hypertension they hope will go away. I thought I had read others had this. My cardiologist wants to see me tomorrow and told me not to drive cause they are getting more frequent. Funny or strange a few weeks I began to feel great. Even went back to pulmonary rehab and started to exercise and then I crashed again. And it is getting frustrating.
Aussie38
Aussie38

I find I have a reduced tolerance for caffeine now and I get heart palpitations if I have a caffeinated drink, so I am trying to eliminate caffeinated beverages from my diet at the moment. I don't know if it is because of the warfarin or the right ventricular stress my heart was under when i was diagnosed with PE in March. But caffeine is well known to cause palpitations - it just didn't happen to me until recently.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Hmmm...caffeine. Yes, I.ve been drinking Diet Coke! I'll stay away from them now, or at least, be more aware that it MAY be the culprit.
deleted_user
deleted_user

So I've been experiencing heart palpitations lately too (just happened today at work). And honestly its a little scary while its happening. I'm going to talk to my doctor about it because its not a fun feeling at all.
Aussie38
Aussie38

Yeah i discussed this with my Dr this week and he said the diet coke could definitely be causing my heart palpitations, I have reduced to 1 diet coke a day the last 2 days and have had no palpitations for the first time in 2 weeks at least. Dr says one a day is fine, but I'll probably drop that too after a few days, I am drinking caffeine free diet coke now and just having one caffeinated a day to ensure I don't get caffeine withdrawal headaches.