Sunday, June 28, 2009

Good news: Funky heartbeat issue is "normal!"

Yes, it's true!

After wearing a "loop recorder" for a month (and having a few unfortunate mishaps wherein I inadvertently and unknowingly kept deleting the events I was recording...), and ultimately transmitting a handful of recorded events to my cardiologist, it has been determined that my funky heartbeat thing is what are called "PVCs."

For those of us non-cardiologists, that translates to "premature ventricular contractions," or what my cardiologist's nurse practitioner referred to as "early heartbeats." According to Wikipedia, this essentially means that instead of the heartbeat originating in the sinoatrial node of the heart, it's initiating in the ventricles, which are the lower chambers of the heart muscle (the upper chambers are atria).

That premature heartbeat triggers that feeling of a heart palpitation or fluttering, which is exactly what I was feeling. Fortunately, my PVCs are very brief and they generally aren't continuous (although I sometimes will have 2 or 3 in a row), so for me they are considered simply a "normal variant."

My cardiologist will sometimes treat PVCs with medication, but usually only if the PVCs are disrupting a patient's life or making them severely anxious. My anxiety from my funky heartbeat was pretty much purely over not knowing what it was or what was causing it. Now that I know that it's not a serious, imminently lethal heart problem, I'm feeling much more okay with it, and the instances of it don't really disrupt my life or anything like that. However, if I ever do get pregnant again, the PVCs may also become more frequent, so if that does start making me anxious or affecting me physically in terms of making me lightheaded, etc., then I will most likely get on medication to control it for that period of time.

Bottom line, as far as the PVC thing is concerned, as long as it's not having a major impact on my daily life, I don't have to see the cardiologist again and I don't require any treatment for it.

That said, there's still the other cardiac issue of my near-fainting episodes during the '07 triathlon and the '08 fitness boot camp, in addition to my heart rate clocking in at 220 during one of my normal workouts back in February. The cardiologist is not seeing anything that would explain that from my echo or my EKG, so he wants me to get back in to see him right away if I have any other instances of near-fainting or my heart rate monitor picking up crazy-high heart rates, and then he'll have me basically go through a stress test to see if the high heart rate can be induced while I'm being monitored so they can see what's going on. I'm hopeful that this won't come to pass (after all, the fact is that the near-fainting episodes happened during two EXTREME physical activities for me, activities I'm not likely to participate in again!), but if it does, at least I know that they will look into it again quickly.

At 35, I've got to say that these weird heart issues I'd recently begun experiencing really had me pretty freaked out, especially considering that I'm not in bad shape for my age. I'm glad I got them checked out and that I have some answers as to what's going on, and some reassurances that these are generally not serious issues. I'll sleep easier knowing that my heart is not a ticking timebomb!

For any of you readers who have unusual heart issues, go get them checked and get yourself some peace of mind. I want you all to be healthy and well, so even if you aren't inclined to do it for yourself, do it for me!! :)

Peace out,
SW

1 comment:

  1. Hello there,

    I stumbled upon your blog today and I really enjoyed reading your post. I was diagnosed with this same condition about 2 years ago at the age of 24 can I can assure you that as soon as you know why it is happening, you feel SO much better. I was so scared when it was starting and since I have known the real deal, it has become so much more bearable. Thanks for the great post!

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