For the past few weeks, I’ve felt like crap. My heart has been skipping along, enjoying itself, while the rest of me was dizzy, stuttering, and tired. Tests take a while to schedule then take a while to be read so we’ve been in “hurry up and wait” mode.
I’m used to hearing “we don’t know what it is but you seem fine” and “we know but it’s nothing to worry about” and “learn to live with it”. My mother was once told she needed “the elixir of life”. Seriously.
First we did the simplest. We lowered my blood pressure medication. Beta blockers do a great job of treating hypertension but they also tend to slow the heart down. In my case, that was good since mine tends to run fast ’cause I don’t. Run that is.
No change, though so next I had an ultrasound of my carotid arteries. They are fine. That’s good.
I wore a Holter monitor for 24hrs. The results from that were mixed. On the one hand, I had normal sinus rhythm (meaning the heart beats in a rhythm linked to our breathing). But, I also had a lot of PVCs. I know I go to Lowe’s a lot but, really.
Okay, get serious here.
Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in one of your heart’s two lower pumping chambers (ventricles). These extra beats disrupt your regular heart rhythm, sometimes causing you to feel a flip-flop or skipped beat in your chest. Premature ventricular contractions are very common â€” they occur in most people at some point.
Your heart is made up of four chambers â€” two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). The rhythm of your heart is normally controlled by the sinoatrial node (SA node) â€” or sinus node â€” an area of specialized cells located in the right atrium. This natural pacemaker produces the electrical impulses that trigger the normal heartbeat. From the sinus node, electrical impulses travel across the atria to the ventricles, causing them to contract and pump blood out to your lungs and body.
Premature ventricular contractions are abnormal contractions that begin in the ventricles. These extra contractions usually beat sooner than the next expected regular heartbeat. And they often interrupt the normal order of pumping, which is atria first, then ventricles. As a result, the extra, out-of-sync beats are usually less effective in pumping blood throughout the body.
Why do extra beats occur?
The reasons aren’t always clear. Certain triggers, heart diseases or changes in the body can make cells in the ventricles electrically unstable. Underlying heart disease or scarring may also cause electrical impulses to be misrouted. Premature ventricular contractions may be associated with:
Chemical changes or imbalances in the body
Certain medications, including common asthma medications
Alcohol or illegal drugs
Increased levels of adrenaline in the body that may be caused by caffeine, exercise or anxiety
Injury to the heart muscle from coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, high blood pressure or infections (myocarditis)
(source: Mayo Clinic)
So, that’s where we are now. And here’s the plan.
First, I am to go back to my original dosage of beta blockers. My BP has been slowly rising but the worrisome part is the systolic (upper number) has gone up to be way, way high. As in 100 pts or more higher than the diastolic (lower number) which is also rising. 195/70, 193/83, 196/91, etc. Not good.
Second, I am to cut back on caffeine. Not that I am a caffeine junkie, but I do drink Coke during the day at lunch. It is my treat of the day. If I have a headache, it is part of my treatment when one first starts. I’ve been having a lot of headaches since this started (which is why I had the carotid ultrasound) so I’ve been drinking more than one a day which didn’t help the PVCs which gave me more headaches which….you get the circle.
Third, I am to start taking my blood sugar levels more often. First thing in AM, 2 hrs, and 4 hrs after largest meal. It could be the high blood sugar is stressing my system which in turn freaks out the heart. Since my blood sugar is highest in the afternoons and that’s when the skips were the worst, we want to see if the dots connect.
And fourth, the line was drawn in the sand for me in terms of when to go to the ER. The other day, while yelling at the football games, my chest started hurting. Then it would go away. In the afternoon, when the skipping was the worst, my chest hurt after each hard THUMP then would slowly go away. Until the next one. So the doc fussed at me then said “If it happens again, go to ER. If nothing else, we get a picture of what is going on, even if nothing is going on.”
See, I have EDS and my muscles are constantly tight trying to hold me together. So on the one hand, it could be the heart was under a lot of stress and reacted with pain. Or it could be that two weeks of being chest conscious, I was unconsciously tightening those muscles which started having spasms. We’ve had heart concerns before but the pain was from sternum inflammation. Which hurts like the bejeebers, by the way. Don’t try that at home.
And fifth, one I added on my own, I am to continue doing the mini-meditation work I’ve been doing. A good friend said to use emerald green and sometimes pink (shudder) so I’ve been meditating on enveloping myself in emerald green that has a pink line around the edges. Doesn’t look as bad in my head as it does outside of it. If nothing else, it is making me feel like I am doing something to help myself vs sit here on my ass all day, worrying.
So, there’s where I stand. Um, sit. Whatever. Still concerned but relieved my heart is fine, just not feeling well at the moment. If you can, keep me in your prayers. Envelop me in green (but not too much pink) and don’t send me chocolate. Dammit.