3 years

Leg pain, irregular heartbeat, waking up with a gasp

I’m 29F with spinal stenosis and herniated disc L4/L5. Heavy smoker and overweight. I work a physically demanding job.

A few months back I noticed my heart was beating irregularly. It seems that every few regular beats, it will beat rapidly twice in succession before resuming normal pace. If it’s a Morse code, it’ll be DASH DASH DASH DOTDOT DASH DASH. I don’t know how else to describe it. It lasted for around 2 months. It doesn’t happen anymore and now my resting heartbeat is around 90-100 BPM.

Since a few weeks ago, I kept waking up during sleep or nap with a gasp. I don’t feel out of breath (I’m a heavy smoker, I do take deeper breaths than normal people do), I don’t snore, I don’t choke in my sleep. I just keep waking myself up with a gasp.

When I lie down, my legs hurt. Day and night .Usually from the back of my thigh to the feet. I think the left leg hurts more and I feel it more in the calf area. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep because of it. I do suffer from spinal stenosis. Basically I’m in pain all over for the last 4 years I don’t know if I could be suffering from other conditions.

Could these new symptoms be a sign of something else?

Hi there, thank you for your question!

The condition that you described is could probably be Paroxysmal Nocturnal Dyspnea(PND) which tends to occur within a few hours after you’ve fallen asleep. It wakes you up. You might gasp for air, cough, or sit or stand up to try to open your airways. After a while, your breathing may return to normal. It might take a half an hour, or sometimes longer, to recover.

Many people find it difficult to return to sleep after an episode of PND. PND can be distressing, and one or more episodes may lead to sleep anxiety or even insomnia. PND could indicate that you have heart failure.

Regarding your calf pain, it might be due to low blood flow supplying the calf area. However, as you have spinal stenosis, perhaps it might be due to neurological problem too.

To protect your heart, it is still best that you eat a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, drink alcohol in moderation, manage stress level and go for regular health screenings

You may also click on this link (DoctorOnCall) to speak with our doctors online. We assure you that our conversations are kept in confidentiality unless additional consultation needed with other medical parties. Thank you.

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