Does yawning have anything to do with an erratic heart rate or leaking heart valve?

Greetings….I am a 61 year old male who is active and in otherwise good health. I was recently admitted to the hospital (overnight) for a slow and erratic heartbeat. My normal heart rate at rest is about 50, but this particular time it was down as low as 41 and jumping all over the place. While in the hospital they discovered a heart murmur and followed up with an ultrasound that indicated I had a leaking aortic valve that was classified as “moderate”. It also showed that I have a bicuspid valve. In 2010 I underwent a treadmill stress test followed by an ultrasound, and everything was normal.

My question is that I go through periods of needing to yawn excessively and sometimes it is difficult to get enough air into my lungs to be “satisfied”. Sometimes I have no problems at all and breathe normally. This has been going on for years, but my PCP never had an issue and never heard the murmur, even on a follow- up to him after my stay in the hospital. I always attributed it to my weight (about 60 overweight), but now I am wondering if it is a function of my very slow heart rate, or the leaking valve, or a combination of the two, or something else totally unrelated. I only seem to experience it at rest and do not seem to be short of breath otherwise. Thanks in advance for any insight you can give me.

Submitted by Chris from Norfolk, Virginia on 07/16/2014

by Domingo G. Gonzalez, Jr., MD

There is not much on yawning in the medical literature. It is however described as an involuntary opening of the mouth that is accompanied by inspiration and may be a sign of sleepiness. It is often caused by suggestion. However, when there is vital depression as when someone has lost a great deal of blood and their vital signs (e.g., blood pressure) is low from massive acute blood loss, then in a situation like that the patient may also start yawning.