Your gut can affect your heart. Roemheld Syndrome is a condition where pressure in the gut can cause the heart to behave abnormally. This problem comes from the complex relationship between the gut and the nervous system, and the nervous system’s connection to the heart.
Roemheld Syndrome causes the heart to skip or race and blood pressure to rise or fall when the gut is distended and compresses the Vagus Nerve in the abdomen.
The reason this very website exists is because Kim and Paolo met when she was struggling to understand that crisis she was having with her health. Finally she realized her condition was Roemheld Syndrome, something she put together herself after nearly 3 years of medical testing and consulting doctors.
An active person, Kim suddenly began having attacks of a racing heart in 2013. As time went on she could not do even simple activities like walk around the block, she also developed brain fog, and could not take part in many daily activities. By early 2016 she was just a shell of who she had been before. Her attacks went from a few a year to every month, to every day. Doctor Cataldi, experienced with managing Roemheld Syndrome, was able to guide her to regain her health.
Below is her description of what happens when she has a Roemheld Syndrome attack.
“Episodes could come on any time, day or night, out of the blue. I’ve had these attacks in public places, when exercising, and when at home.
I would generally begin with feeling of general unease, as if something was just not right. I felt a little weak, a little dizzy, off, but not exactly able to put my finger on what my body was doing.Sometimes I would get winded when I would talk.
As a health professional I was very in tune with the workings on the body, but I struggled to make sense of what was happening.
I noticed each time I would have a slight numbness in my front teeth around the same time I was having the feeling of not being well. As the attack progressed I would typically feel a little short of breath, like I was a little winded from light exercise, at this point I might put my fingers to my neck to feel my pulse, (later I used a heart rate monitor to track the episodes).
Sometimes my chest felt tight, but not always. There was never any pain in my chest though.
When I took my pulse, that’s when I would know an attack was truly happening, not just something that was passing. My heart rate would rise as Tachycardia set in, my pulse would go from a normal 70 beats per minute to 90, then 100, then quickly work up to 140 or 150 bpm.
Sometimes I would feel skipped or extra beats too when the Roemheld attack was happening.
At this point when my heart rate reached 120-140 I would feel the full onslaught of symptoms. Sometimes I would get hot, other times cold. I would begin to feel nausea and an increased dizziness.
I felt like I was going to die, pass out, or vomit, never knowing exactly which might happen.
I truly felt sick. Friends and family would hold my hand, get me cold towels and water, watch as I struggled. The ambulance was called many times.
Then, as the episode continued I would begin to shake uncontrollably. I would try lying in different positions, right side, left side, on my stomach, in child’s pose, anything to make myself feel better. Sometimes this helped, but not always.
A few times the episodes passed on their own. Sometimes as I was riding in the back of the ambulance my heart rate would go back down. Other times lying on my kitchen floor.
As I became more in tune to what was happening I realized that there was always belly bloating in my lower abdomen as the episode ended. Many times I have had to take an emergency medication- a beta blocker to control the Roemheld Syndrome Tachycardia (racing heart).
Sometimes I would feel a dip in my pulse before it began to rise. As I understood Roemheld Syndrome more, I started to understand that this was the drop in my heart rate and blood pressure from my vagus nerve being activated. I monitored these attacks as objectively as I could.
As time went on I had more and more attacks. I felt worse and worse in general. I could barely function. No one, none of my doctors understood what the reason for this sickness was. Then I discovered Roemheld, and it perfectly fit with every experience I had. From there I had to find someone who knew how to treat it.”
Roemheld Syndrome is a little diagnosed, and little researched condition where the Vagus Nerve gets stimulated by intestinal gas or bloating. This condition is very real. A search of the internet will result in you finding many people describing racing hearts and skipped beats when they are bloated or have indigestion.
Kim’s attacks are triggered when bloating presses on her diaphragm, stomach, and heart. The cause of Roemheld Syndrome is almost always bloating related. When the gas or food moves on, away from the diaphragm symptoms generally subside.
Kim is successfully managing her Roemheld Syndrome using diet, digestive yoga, breathing exercises, and physical exercise.
Roemheld can be dangerous. If your heart is weak, or you have certain arrhythmias and episode can trigger serious life threatening conditions. The compression of the Vagus Nerve can also trigger fainting which can result in dangerous accidents.