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"Irregular Heartbeat Detected"

poetsheartpoetsheart Posts: 5,088Registered User Senior Member
edited April 2010 in Parent Cafe
I thought I'd post this here to see if anyone can advise me. Last year, my Mom gave me an in-home blood pressure monitor, because like her, I have high blood pressure. Lately, it's been somewhat intractable, despite the fact that I am now on two different medicines (a recent development my Primary Care Physician is trying to address). Doctor wants me to check my pressure once a day, which I've been doing. The numbers have not looked very good for the past week or so. Just now, it was 160 over 100. Heart rate 98. But the machine also beeped a warning at me for the first time. It said, "irregular heartbeat detected". That gave me somewhat of an uneasy feeling. What exactly does that mean in light of the elevated pressure reading, and should I be very concerned about this---enough to seek medical attention on a Friday night? I'm hoping one of our resident MDs will be able to advise me on this. Thanks.

Oh, and I'm also a diabetic.
Post edited by poetsheart on
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Replies to: "Irregular Heartbeat Detected"

  • interesteddadinteresteddad Posts: 23,570Registered User Senior Member
    I'm not a doctor, but I've been wearing a heart monitor during exercising lately -- it's a great way to track your exercise intensity. Assuming you are somewhere in your 50s, a pulse rate of 98 is no big deal. That's somewhere around 60% of your maximum heart rate which wouldn't even be up where it would be doing mild exercise like brisk walking. I just got off my exercise bike, doing some pretty hard intervals (for an old fat guy) and saw an average heartrate of 127 and a peak of 150. Just as long as my heart rate is above 0%, I'm countin' my blessings! My heart rate is at 90 just sitting here. If I were go take the trash out or walk up and down the steps, I'd see 98.

    Blood pressure? That's higher than you want it to be obviously, but until the drug companies started promoting blood pressure medicine, the old rule of thumb was anything under one hundred plus your age wasn't that horrible.

    On the irregular heart beat, unless that's something you see more than once, you might just chalk it up to a flukey reading. I don't know what kind of monitor you have, but most of the home blood pressure monitors aren't very reliable. I try to track mine, but I take a dozen measurements a day and average them. They are all over the place.
  • teriwttteriwtt Posts: 9,762Super Moderator Senior Member
    poetsheart - a lot of health insurance companies have a nurse's line you can call after hours for questions just like this. While I've only used it perhaps 3-4 times over the years, they help me discern whether my concerns warrant a call to my physician or not. You might have to do some investigating into your insurance company... perhaps their website or on your card somewhere.
  • poetsheartpoetsheart Posts: 5,088Registered User Senior Member
    Thanks, Idad and Terri. I've checked it three more times since posting this, and fortunately, it's not beeped that warning again:). Pressure readings are still a bit elevated. Last one was 151 over 100, with 94 pulse. My pulse rate is usually around 86, but has been known to race suddenly, and for no apparent reason (like 115 resting).
    until the drug companies started promoting blood pressure medicine, the old rule of thumb was anything under one hundred plus your age wasn't that horrible.

    Really? Wow, I had no idea! I can certainly see how lowered standards translates into dollars for the pharmaceuticals industry.

    Terri, I'm trying to find the number for the "Ask a nurse" helpline right now, but I've calmed down considerably from earlier. After posting, I also remembered that I took a couple of Benedryl capsules about 1/2 hour earlier. I'd been hit with a suddenly attack of sneezing and blowing two hours earlier, and I finally threw in the towel. It would seem that I'm allergic to something. What? Who knows.:rolleyes: I think I remember hearing that antihistimines can increase blood pressure.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Posts: 23,570Registered User Senior Member
    The internets says that one side effect of benedryl is an irregular fast heart rate.

    BTW, I'm not saying that the newer blood pressure guidelines are wrong or that we shouldn't try to lower our blood pressure with medications if necessary. Just trying to put things into perspective. The average heart rate for a 50 year old is not and has never been the 120 figure that gets tossed around. That's "normal" for a 20 year old.
  • teriwttteriwtt Posts: 9,762Super Moderator Senior Member
    I know that drugs like sudafed can elevate blood pressure... not sure about benadryl, but never underestimate the side effects any drug (OTC or not), can have on any one individual.

    I'm also guessing that an attack of sneezing/blowing can elevate your blood pressure, especially if you're already susceptible. It sounds like you're already under good care for the blood pressure, though, and this was a blip on the map. I think doctors are more concerned about blood pressure patterns, as opposed to indiscriminate readings. If it continues to stay up, even after the benadryl has left your system, and you are no longer sneezing/blowing, then you should give them a call. When I am sick, mine is always higher.

    Also reminds me (don't know if this is urban myth or not)... I was always told that one of the reasons we say, "Bless you," when someone sneezes is because it is thought that the heart skips a half beat when we sneeze. In pre-modern times, people said, "Bless you," because they thought that person needed all the blessings they could get during a sneeze so that their heart wouldn't stop. Am glad we are so much more enlightened now!
  • minimini Posts: 26,431Registered User Senior Member
    I am a nurse and yes antihistamines can increase you BP. Irregular heart rates are not uncommon and often not a big deal but you should mention it to your doc if it happens again. But no it is not something to call your doc about unless you have other symptoms like you feel your heart is racing, beating really hard at rest, chest pain, difficulty breathing.
    Yes the pharmaceutical companies are pushing blood pressure meds but there is also lots more info on the risks related to higher blood pressures. You are at even higher risk with diabetes since that weakens blood vessels over time.
    Blood pressure usually fluctuates quite a bit over the day.
    Ellen
  • teriwttteriwtt Posts: 9,762Super Moderator Senior Member
    Poetsheart... slowly, step away from CC and confederate uniform threads. That alone can raise your blood pressure ;)
  • cartera45cartera45 Posts: 12,160Registered User Senior Member
    Everyone in my family has an irregular heartbeat. My mom and I have mitral valve prolapse so we both have irregular heartbeats. It feels like my heart skips a beat, but it is actually throwing an extra beat - feels like a bird fluttering in my chest. My dad had an irregular heartbeat all of his life. They never really came up with a particular reason - it just didn't regulate properly. By the time he died, at age 86, he had pretty severe aortic stenosis. It sounded like he had a washing machine in his chest. My D has aortic stenosis and she has an irregular heartbeat too. None of us can use the home blood pressure monitors without bells and whistles going off. There are lots of reasons for irregular heartbeats and you doctor will probably get to the bottom of it. Have you had an echo done recently?
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Posts: 23,570Registered User Senior Member
    I get my highest blood pressure readings first thing in the morning after two cups of coffee, bacon, and eggs! Lowest readings are no coffee and about half an hour after rigorous exercise.

    I see 20 point swings on the top number, but the average for a day or a week stays rock steady. At least with these home monitors, I think you have to take half a dozen readings during the day and average them.

    BTW, you can drive your pulse rate down a lot with some relaxed deep slow breathing.
  • poetsheartpoetsheart Posts: 5,088Registered User Senior Member
    Poetsheart... slowly, step away from CC and confederate uniform threads. That alone can raise your blood pressure.

    LOL---ain't that the truth?:D (Yeah, I think I'll heed that advice tonight. Ha!)

    Mini! It's so good to see you around these parts. Thanks for the professional opinion:). I do realize that the diabetes complicates matters. I seem to have misplaced my blood sugar monitor tonight. Honestly, I can't figure out how these things sometimes grow legs. I'm currently controlling it with diet and exercise (though admittedly, there's not been a lot of exercising going on since I broke my ankle last July. Doctor is set to run another A1c in a month. (The last one looked pretty good.) Diabetes runs on both sides of my family, though:(. My Mom was just given the diagnosis a couple of weeks ago when a pre-cataract surgery blood check turned up numbers slightly above 600!:eek: She has been on prednesone for almost a year, however---ever since being diagnosed with Lupus. Prednesone is supposedly notorious for raising one's blood sugar, so, she's being weaned off. Ever since her diagnosis, she's also been finger prick testing my 76 yr old Dad and his numbers are between 145-160 2 hrs post meal. But, he's dragging his feet about going to the Dr. and getting a firm diagnosis (men!....). His older brother is an insulin dependent type 2.
    I know that drugs like sudafed can elevate blood pressure... not sure about benadryl, but never underestimate the side effects any drug (OTC or not), can have on any one individual.
    I am a nurse and yes antihistamines can increase you BP. Irregular heart rates are not uncommon and often not a big deal but you should mention it to your doc if it happens again.



    Tonight was the first time the machine indicated my heartbeat might be irregular, and it hasn't repeated that warning, so I suspect the Benedryl has everything to do with that.
    None of us can use the home blood pressure monitors without bells and whistles going off. There are lots of reasons for irregular heartbeats and you doctor will probably get to the bottom of it. Have you had an echo done recently?

    Wow, cartera, that must be somewhat disconcerting. How would you know when to actually be concerned? One of my first cousins also has mitral valve prolapse and suffers from irregular heart beat. She's an Air Force Reserves registered nurse (currently deployed), so I'm sure she knows what to look for, should she experience more troubling symptoms. I've never been echoed.
    BTW, you can drive your pulse rate down a lot with some relaxed deep slow breathing.

    Excellent idea, and one I fully intend to implement tonight. I'm about to cash in my chips and hit the hay. If my BP is still elevated tomorrow (without having taken more Benedryl), I think I'll head over to the ER to get checked. Just to be cautious. You guys are all wonderful:). I really do appreciate your help.
  • tonerangertoneranger Posts: 3,723Registered User Senior Member
    Benadryl can definitely cause an irregular heartbeat. That and cold medications do it for me so I stay away. If it becomes a continuing issue, you can consult your doc and they can hook you up with a monitor that you wear for a few days to track your heartbeat.

    Regarding blood pressure, I second the idea of deep breathing. There's a biofeedback unit sold that teaches you to moderate your breathing and it's proven to reduce blood pressure. I'm lucky to have low blood pressure (genetics I think) but I know a few folks - including some family members who struggle with HBP. That little machine can be helpful.

    IDAD...I confused by the heart rate comments. 120? My resting heart rate is 60. Did you mean average top number for blood pressure?
  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 Posts: 9,024Registered User Senior Member
    Wow, cartera, that must be somewhat disconcerting. How would you know when to actually be concerned?

    As a cardiology nurse, we get "concerned" about irregular heartbeats when they cause symptoms- such as dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain, nausea and sweating, very low or very high blood pressure, or a "racing heart" sensation that doesn't go away. Most people experience the occasional blips of irregularity. If you looked at an EKG strip of an individual patient over the period of an hour or so, it's not going to be perfectly regular all the time.

    There's a common condition known as "atrial fibrillation," which is an irregularly irregular heart rate. It needs to be treated as this puts the patient at risk for developing blood clots in the atrium. Both my Dad and Stepdad have this condition-both are on medication for it after trying other methods to get the rhythm back to normal failed, and both lead perfectly normal lives.

    As long as you are not experiencing any of those symptoms I mentioned, you are probably fine, but still you would want your doctor to evaluate your heart rhythm at some point if it remains a concern. I was having lots of palpitations once, so my doctor put me in one of those 24 hour monitors that you carry around like a purse (called a Holter monitor). When you feel a "blip," you push a button, and it marks it so that they can go back and evaluate it. This might be a good way to check out your heart rhythm and put your mind at ease.
  • cartera45cartera45 Posts: 12,160Registered User Senior Member
    My Dad had atrial fibrilation and was treated for that. After any procedure, it was difficult to get his heart beat regulated. He almost always had a few day extra stay in the hospital in order to get it regulated. He was thin and in great shape but his heart would race and sporadically just get completely out of whack. He had rheumatic fever when he was in service and was actually discharged because of the heart murmur.
  • DocTDocT Posts: 6,901Registered User Senior Member
    I'd have it checked by a doctor. Perhaps he'll have you wear a holter monitor. I complained for a number of years of an irregular heart beat and it wasn't until I had a monitor for a month that I was diagnosed with a-fib.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Posts: 23,570Registered User Senior Member
    IDAD...I confused by the heart rate comments. 120? My resting heart rate is 60. Did you mean average top number for blood pressure?

    Yes, sorry. I was talking about systolic blood pressure.
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