Does this sound like a hiatal hernia to you? Heart palpitations after eating, irregular heartbeat, GERD?

My husband started having heart palpitations and a heavily-pounding heart about a week ago, after eating every meal. He has had severe heartburn basically his whole life and was diagnosed with Acid Reflex and GERD a few years ago. He takes OTC heartburn pills everyday to help calm the heartburn, since he gets it every day. He went into the hospital yesterday and the hospital did an EKG, took blood and ordered a chest x-ray, and everything was normal, aside from his heart palpitating, or beating irregularly. This morning, they did an Electro Cardiogram and gave that to a cardiologist, but we haven’t heard anything back. We also noticed that the heart problems seem to calm down at night and happen much less at night, and that if he puts his arms above his head, his heartbeat returns to normal, which made me think he might have a Hiatal Hernia. It seems like it would make sense if he had a hiatal hernia and raised his arms above his head for his heart beat to return to normal, since his upper torso would be getting pulled upward, and away from his stomach. He hasn’t been having any other symptoms except for the funny heartbeat. In the past few days, he has cut out all caffeine, all heavy foods, a lot of salt, and has been eating much lighter foods, but it is not helping. He mentioned a hiatal hernia possibly being the cause of the problem, but the doctors didn’t say anything, so he feels like they aren’t even going to check, even though I know GERD can be associated with a hiatal hernia. What does it sound like to you? Any suggestions? One other mention, he did have an ulcer about 10-12 years ago, but we’re not sure if he still has it. He doesn’t have insurance, so he can only go to a hospital to get medical care without having to pay hundreds up front for medical care from a doctor at an office or a specialist.

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2 Responses to Does this sound like a hiatal hernia to you? Heart palpitations after eating, irregular heartbeat, GERD?

  1. Queryman says:

    He has what is called Deglutition(Swallowing-induced) tachyarrhythmia.

    Deglutition tachyarrhythmia, first reported in 1926 by Sakai and Mori, is a rare clinical entity. Vagal reflex has been supposed to be responsible for the induction of the arrhythmia. The mechanism of the swallowing-induced arrhythmia might be related to a sympathetic reflex.

    # Cases: syncope caused by swallowing-induced cardiac arrhythmia is an uncommon condition. The recognition of this syndrome is paramount but often difficult. We report three cases of deglutition syncope evaluated at our institution over a three-year period. Two patients had distal esophageal (Schatzki) ring and two had hypertensive peristaltic waves (commonly referred to as “nutcracker esophagus”), neither of which had been described before in association with deglutition syncope. Two patients underwent placement of a demand cardiac pacemaker with subsequent resolution of their syncopal symptoms.
    http://www.lookfordiagnosis.com/cases.php?term=Deglutition+Disorders&filter=deglutition&values=2.904482&lang=1&from=0

    # Cases:Three cases with supraventricular tachyarrhythmias related to oesophageal transit are reported. A 61 year old man had episodes of atrial tachycardia on each swallow of food but not liquid;
    http://heart.bmj.com/content/81/3/313.abstract

    Deglutition induced supraventricular tachycardia is an uncommon condition postulated to be a vagally mediated phenomenon due to mechanical stimulation. Patients usually present with mild symptoms or may have severe debilitating symptoms.
    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118532392/abstract

    The above extracts are only to show that a rare condition does exist which could be the case with your husband. All you got to do is to point out the possibility of ‘Deglutition(Swallowing-induced) tachyarrhythmia’ to your doctor.

    GERD is a different issue, hiatus hernia or not. The focus now is on what you said, “My husband started having heart palpitations and a heavily-pounding heart about a week ago, after eating every meal.”

  2. і ♥ нім says:

    Nope. It sounds like gallstones. I lie to you not, I thought I was dying when I had gallstones. I thought I was having a heart attack. Demand that his GP check his gallbladder. Those things can get bad if not treated.

    EDIT: Why doesn’t your husband apply for emergency medicaid? It’s going to be hard to get him the proper medical help without any type of health insurance. He has GERD, that can cause major esophageal issues as well as ulcers. He needs to be on something a little stronger then an over the counter medication. He needs something that will not only prevent his symptoms, but something that will heal him too (something like Nexium- the purple pill).

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