I have had my ICD for about six years now (I had it implanted at 16 and am now 22), and have experienced some anxiety in the past but never as bad as on this past Friday evening. As many of you know, panic attacks are frightfully similar to heart-related episodes (so much so that I cannot tell the difference, and I've definitely had both), and so while it very well may have been my cardiomyopathy acting up, I'm skeptical because I don't believe my heartrate was elevated enough for me to get defibrillated (usually I have to be really rushing and lugging something heavy). I was only walking (albeit in a busy section of a large city) and began feeling a wave of anxiety, so I ducked into the entrance of a parking garage where I blacked out for a few moments, was defibrillated only once, and subsequently discovered by a very concerned and helpful homeless gentleman. I was previously under the impression that these episodes happened only in situations under real physical stress, which, for me, has been true for as long as I've had the device. Now I cannot help believing that anxiety alone can do the trick. Which makes me even more anxious. Which is DEFINITELY a problem. I'm wondering, does anyone have anxiety issues this severe or before had an ICD react (in a big way) to emotional distress alone?
Thanks in advance,



by Peter.Nash - 2007-12-09 01:12:41

Hi Debbie,
My cardiomyopathy is of the dilated viral type and as I have said My ICD has shocked me several times... and alays been related to a VT...
I also have had these panic attacks and they are so much like like the problem is with your heart ... Tight chest unable to breathe and the longer it goes on the worse it gets ..I know the secret is to breathe deep and slow not very easy... when you think you are dying for the want of a lot of air..... but it does work...So I would say from what you are explaining that you have had panic attacks but don't take my word for it I am only speaking from my own experience......and how does one cope with everyday living with this ..I guess we are all different and our ages go a long way in the matter but I think it is hard work keeping on top of everything and very tiring.... I think DCM only allow you so much energy a day and you have to use it wisely...... good luck Peter.N


by Peter.Nash - 2007-12-09 01:12:42

Hi Cathryn,
Nice to see you on line again I thought you had left us or not been well hope all is good with you Peter.N

fast heartbeat

by thomast - 2007-12-09 03:12:44

I also have cardiomypathy and a 3 wire Bi Ven in sync pacemaker with ICD. It was put in may of 05. In july I was trimming a hedge and got zapped. Then in sept I got zapped again while doing something I should not have been doing. They then changed the programing so that at 130 BPM, it tries to step me out of it, if that does not work it just monitors it unless it goes to 150 than it would zap me. No problems since sept 05 until two weeks ago, we were on a trip (we live at 450 ft altitude) and stopped at 4100 ft, I was tired and carried the baggage in. The next day at the assigned time my patient alert went off (it beeps). Had to go into a hospital and have Medtronic check it out. When I had carried the baggage in, it went to 130 bpm and stayed for 2 minutes. It tried to step me out of it 6 times, could not so it just waited and it went away after 2 minutes.
I have learned not to carry the baggage in at high altitude if I am tired.


by Peter.Nash - 2007-12-09 08:12:54

Hi Jane,
like you I have had my ICD fo 5 years now.
I also have cardiomyopathy and have suffered panic attacks.
My ICD has fired 4 times and paced out VT's on occasions.... to my knowledege these episodes came from nowhere nothing to do with any physical stress.....just happened!!
How ever I have had panic attacks and they have had my heart racing to a point where the icd was monitoring the situation and was l already rubbing it's hands....and winding it's self up....!!.
I am no doctor but I think An Icd will react always to the perameters set regardless of how criteria is met.
A panic attack is really a fright... that is a false alarm and your body reacts in a normal way ie.rapidly increases you heartrate and pumps blood into your chest and muscles to make you ready to fight or run as the case may be hence the cold clammy hands and feet as it takes the blood from the area's to utelize else an increase in adrenalin all classic things to make you hear rate rapidly increase ....Personaly I think if this happens and you are prone to arrythmia problems it can trigger as in my case a run of VT and depending what you ICD is set at it will fire at the given HR.
I am only talking from my own experience here. hope it is of some help to you.. Peter.N

Panic attack

by Debbie - 2007-12-09 09:12:17

I find it very interesting to hear from two people with ICD's and cardiomyopathy. Sometimes I feel like the only person out there with the problem. I have not been shocked by the defibb yet and hope it never happens. I have had my unit for 2 years now and I happen to be one of the lucky ones with the recalled Medtronic leads.
Do you have chest pains when you are under stress and shortness of breath? I am not sure I have had a panic attack or not. I have had my viral dilated cardiomyopathy for 6 years now and my ejection fraction has not changed in 3 years, it's still at 20%. I
am wondering how you function in your everyday world, I'm tired most all the time. Thank you for taking the time to anwer.

just a thought

by CathrynB - 2007-12-09 11:12:29

I don't share Jane, Peter and Debbie's situation -- I don't have cardiomyopathy or an ICD. And I'm not a medically trained person. But I'm in close touch by phone with a woman who used to be active on this site and has cardiomyopathy -- she's 46 years old. About 9 months ago she had her PM upgraded to a bi-ventricular model (3 leads, so one atrium and both ventricles are paced, as I understand it) and her ejection fraction went from about 20% to about 35% if I recall correctly. She was told at the time that the Bi-V model is successful in solving the problem in about 70% of cases. So you might discuss this with your doctor and see if you're a candidate for this or other alternate therapy. I don't frankly even know if a Bi-V ICD exists, or only regular PMs. Best wishes for solutions to your issues Jane and Debbie.
Take care, CathrynB

and i thougt it was only me

by Aztec - 2007-12-11 01:12:39

hi all, iam 46yrs had cardiomyopthy all my life its been controled by meds inderal 60mgs a day, well my doc changed my meds lastyear to tropel 50mgs a day since then i had my first in 20yrs i started meds when i was 20 , panic attack or heart defib ? i got short of breath sweating real bad blacking out allmost while i tell my doc she says put in a defib ok its in now 3 months i get my attack again i get shocked at 188 BPM GO BACK TO THE DOCS THEY RAISE IT TO 200 BPM, with pacing at 50 BPM they dont know if it was a panic attack or my heart so , my ? is do i have a defib for no reason take it out fgo back on my old meds....

thanks...happy holidays to alll

parallel parking.

by jessie - 2007-12-14 03:12:23

jane just so you know i never did master it. i am 66 and i stil drive into spaces. the poor man must have thought she keeps coming back so why not give here a licence and maybe she won't be such a bad driver in a year. my husband bought me a new car and it sat in the driveway for a year before i got licenced. i had also just gone back to nsg. after a few years home with the hope you get a laugh. all the best to you and your family. have a very merry christmas. i hope you are in touch with the young people on this site. they are great jane. you will make some fine friends jessie

how are you jane?

by jessie - 2007-12-14 03:12:42

best wishes of the season! i hope you are doing a bit better and getting some help. it is a life altering experience at your age. no wonder panic attacks. i have a bit if a bug and i find myself sweating tons to-day. my house was so dirty i had to clean it. so let us know how you are doing. people here have given you good advice jessie

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