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Gastro Esophageal Spasms

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  • Gastro Esophageal Spasms


    About 10 months ago I woke up with stomach pain. I then had diarrhea for 2 months. I seen the doc about 2 weeks after my stomach pain because during the first 2 week I was getting hot and cold flashes. My heart rate was up and down like crazy and it felt like I was having a heart attack. I also started getting spasms around my sternum which felt like my heart was stopping and starting again no pain just a spasm. Then came the panic attacks racing heart beat, cold sweats and just not feeling normal. I had blood tests done and urine sample all good. I kept on getting these spasms. Went back to the doc and he said I have IBS and that it was a normal feeling when someone has IBS. I then had 2 spasms in a row lasting about 2 seconds I felt a little light headed and of course had a panic attack and it took about an hour before I starting feeling a bit normal again. I went back to the doc and he had more blood work done. All normal again. He put me on nexium and tested me for H-pylori the test was negative. I continued to have the spasms. I went to emergency at the hospital and after 10 hours they took blood work and a chest x-ray which was all normal. I was referred to a cardio specialist. I had a 24 hour holter monitor during that time I had two spasms and documented the time. The doc said that during the two documented times I indeed had heart palpitations. I had a cardio ultrasound and all was normal. I also seen a GI specialist and he did an endoscope (the scope down the throat) he told me that I had GERD. I continue to get the spasms it feels like a squeeze near my sternum with no pain and my heart misses a beat every time it happens. If I lean from my left arm or lean forward I can make a spasm happen. I have been taking nexium on a regular basis for the past 4 months and the spasms have gone from several a day to couple of days every two week. O and sometimes when I am having a conversation I start getting the spasms. It’s like the vibration from my voice is triggering it. I feel like I am the only person having these symptoms. Does anyone have the same problem? What is wrong with me? The docs won’t listen to me.

  • #2
    Hi Bob,
    IF your holter monitor recorded heart palpitations (possibly premature atrial or ventricular contractions) then that might be what you are feeling. They are common and some people feel symptoms and others don't. On the other hand, GERD can effect the Vegas nerve which can, in some people, effect their heart beats.

    Not sure why getting in certain positions can cause your "spasms" but it may have something to do with the vegas nerve or reflux. The getting "spasms" while talking is strange....but it's possible your stress level rises while talking and this can bring on palpitations in someone so inclined. So your spasms may be due to just the palpitations, the GERD or a combination of both.


    • #3
      Can a (possibly premature atrial or ventricular contractions) feel like a spasm or tightning at the sternum or at the top of the stomach. I get no pain just the spasm. I have also noticed that my heart rate has gone from 72 bpm to 90 bpm on average during the day when I am not doing anything. As I mentioned I got really sick one day and thats when this all started and now 10 months later my only side effect is the spasms. I think its getting better as I don't have them as much but it is scary when it does happen. The docs tell me I should not worry about it but its hard when it happens.


      • #4
        Arrhythmias can produce a broad range of symptoms. Usually a single premature beat may be felt as a "palpitation" or "skipped beat." Sometimes people feel a thump in the chest.Premature beats that occur often or in rapid succession may cause a greater awareness of heart palpitations or a "fluttering" sensation in the chest or neck. Also one can feel tired, dizzy, lightheaded, or get chest pain. Your Spasms don't sound like any of those.

        As for your heartrate increasing...under 100 is normal so don't keep checking it and getting nervous. The increase may very well be due to your nerves or stress about the situation and not anything else.

        If the GERD meds decreased the spasms then it very well may be GERD related. Your palpitations can be from GERD induced Vegas nerve stimulation or just plain stress.

        I know it's easier said than done, but do try and relax, feel good about the meds helping and try and stop checking your pulse.


        • #5
          I want to get away from palpatations and explain what I am feeling. I get a sqeezing feeling right by my sternum. If I lean forward it is sure to happen once it happens I straighten up and I feel better. There is no pain just the sqeezing or spasm. When I had the holter monitor I recorded two spasms and the cardio doc told me I had palps during the time I recorded. I really believe that the spasm caused my palp not the palp causing the spasm. Is this the vegus nerve I am reading about? I am having less panic attacks because when it happens I ignor it and continue on what I was doing. Did my vegus nerve get damaged by GERD and now that I am on nexium it is getting better. If yes why is the docs telling me I have IBS and not trying to understand what is really happening. Like possible vegus nerve problems. I don't know.... This is really fustrating...... If anyone is having the same problem I can say this. I purchased a treadmill and I have been running for the last 3 weeks and I am getting less spasms. Why... I don't know but it seems to work and I am sticking with it.

          I want you to know that I was really sick with a stomach ache for two weeks and then irregular bowl movments for 8 weeks. Then the spasms... before that I was heathy with no problems.

          I wish this would go away and I could go back to the way I was before......


          • #6
            Hi Bob,
            Originally posted by bob123
            ...I am having less panic attacks because when it happens I ignor it and continue on what I was doing.
            That is good and that is the proper way to deal with anxiety.
            Originally posted by bob123
            ...Did my vegus nerve get damaged by GERD and now that I am on nexium it is getting better. If yes why is the docs telling me I have IBS and not trying to understand what is really happening. Like possible vegus nerve problems.
            I don't think GERD damages the Vegas Nerve. It just irritates it. I'm not up on the exact reasoning. Probably the stomach and bowel problems lead your doctors to believe it was IBS. If it is IBS, anxiety can bring it on or make it worse, so your treadmill workouts may be curbing your stress. I know when I do my walking I have less physical problems and anxiety to deal with.
            Originally posted by bob123
            ...I wish this would go away and I could go back to the way I was before
            I think we all wish that. I hope your problem resolves itself.


            • #7

              You are NOT alone. I spent a lot of time researching this problem and trying different things. I'll give you some examples of what I have experienced as though I never read your post:

              It began for no reason about 4-5 years ago. I started noticing a skipping sensation in the heart at various times of the day. There was no doubt my heart skips a beat. Within milliseconds of this "skip" an adrenaline like feeling takes over and gives you a quick rush and definite feeling like something was wrong. I would call this the panic attack, if you will. Whenever your heart skips a beat you freak out. If I was to eat a meal and lay upright on my back watching the television, my heart would skip quite often until I changed positions. When all this was happening I was freaking out. I saw the doctor and then wore a holter heart monitor for a month!! Every skip was recorded. The doc's said "yep that is a palpatation. It's normal. Don't worry about it." There are times where the bottom of my sternum or "Xyphoid Process" area is tight or a feeling like I want to stretch that area.

              Bottom line is that I have GERD. I have had reflux for as long as I can remember. There were times I would wake up at night choking on acid even when I was younger. When I have hearburn these heart symptoms are worse and predictable. I had a scope done and there was damage being done to my esophagus. I too suspect a link to this "vagus nerve". (I'm not a doctor but did stay at a holiday inn express last night. Thats getting old isn't it?) The common frustration we all have with these symptoms is that the medical community really doesn't get it. I respect them tremendously but the doctors look at us and say your fine, your fine, your fine. I feel like saying "but don't you want to check out my Vagus nerve and see if it's getting irritated by stomach acid?" We all expect them to understand but I gotta believe it's a difficult thing to verify.

              Here is what helped me. Understand that I still have these issues but can definitely control it. was my diet. Do you like coffee, peppermint, tomatoes, ketchup, italian food, pizza, orange Juice, garlic, chocolate, hotdogs, fatty meats or do I dare say it......BEER or Alcohol in general?? How about anything that has a remote chance of causing hearburn? I quit drinking Coffee. Coffee is acid in a cup. I also avoid OJ and avoid red italian items. I kept drinking my beer dammit but may have to quit that too. I noticed a HUGE difference in my heartburn symptoms and in turn the heart skips dropped off too. I also take a Prilosec OTC everyday. They had me on Protonix but they were pricey. I believe that if I quit eating and drinking all of the items that we read about causing heartburn and continue with the Prilosec, my symptoms would be all but gone. If I start eating badly and get off the meds, then the problems start again. After reading some of these posts I feel very lucky that i can control this with Diet. You have to be honest with your food intake and it will take a couple weeks to take hold but you watch. Assuming you try this and start feeling better try testing yourself. Simply quit taking any medicine, drink 4 cups of coffee in the AM, have pizza for lunch, chew some peppermint gum, eat a hersheys bar for a snack, go to Olive Garden for dinner, chew more gum, drink a six pack of beer and repeat these steps for three days. I hope this helps. Frequent this board when your feeling alone in the world of GERD and heart palpatations. There are other posts with the same problems.


              • #8
                Gastro Esophageal Spasms

                Well a few months later and hears the update.

                I went for a stress test and the doc told me I have possible blockages. I was sent for another stress test with nuclear dye and photo's of my blood circulation. I had the test on Aug 25th and my followup was Oct 27th. I contacted the doctor today and asked if I could go ahead with my coaching of hockey. The nurse said the doctor is ok with me coaching but he wants to see me on Sept 18th and to start taking one 81mg apsrin a day. Not sure but I am getting a funny feeling like I might actually have a blockage and if yes I hope the doc wouldn't wait a week and a half before seeing me.


                • #9
                  Hi bob,
                  Glad you had the extra cardio workup. I would think if the problem was a serious blockage your doctor wouldn't wait to see you or let you coach. Plus pain (in the form of angina) might be more obvious. Did you get any pain or discomfort during the stress tests? The aspirin is a good idea especially when there is the possiblity of irregular heart beats.

                  Good luck with your results. Thanks for the update and please keep us posted.


                  • #10
                    Gastro Esophageal Spasms

                    I had no pain with my stress test. My MET level was 10.7 and I could have went farther but they only wanted my heart rate to readh 85 percent which was 165 bpm. My first stress test I reached almost 200 bpm and my MET was 11.5. No pain but I did notice one time on my treadmill I moved up a level and had a heart palp when my hear rate hit 174 bpm. I stopped right away and everything seemed ok.


                    • #11
                      To: Bob123

                      "I want to get away from palpatations and explain what I am feeling. I get a sqeezing feeling right by my sternum. If I lean forward it is sure to happen once it happens I straighten up and I feel better. There is no pain just the sqeezing or spasm."

                      I couldn't describe better what I've been experiencing than this description from Bob123. I see no need in posting additional information on my symptoms as this is exactly what I've been experiencing (Bob123's description at the beginning of this thread is also a spot-on match with my own condition). I would only add that I had my first 'episode' about 18 months ago, which subsided after a few days, without any medication or noticeable change in my life/diet. Then, no more spasms for roughly a year, until I started a new sport and, for a couple of weeks, I started to have spasms again when exercising. The symptoms eventually subsided, even when practicing the same sport during the weeks after. And lately, I've been having these spasms again, but not while exercising, though in a period of very high stress.

                      I know this is a while ago, but I was wondering if you had found a solution/remedy/explanation. I certainly hope that you could get rid of this.