Monday, June 18, 2012
In college, in 1989, I started having heart palpitations that were quite disturbing. 220 bpm lasting anywhere from 20-30 sec to 2-3 hours. Any time I tried to make it to the hospital the episode would stop and drs would not witness anything other than an elevated heart rate (160 bpm). I was off and on with weight and fitness then and various doctors diagnosed me as drinking too much caffeine, depressed, stressed, fat, obese,, overweight and the college infirmary thought I'd been doing hard drugs and tried to open an investigation but my doctor stepped in and explained the arrhythmia had an underlying physical cause which they just could not pinpoint well enough.
I continued with difficulties for 10 years and the condition sseemed to get worse with elevations in heart rate above 220 but I couldn't count it and never managed to get to ER in time to clock it on EKG. After college my weight soared. I became pregnant with my first child and on the day I gave birth I weighed 250 lbs. But before that..... When I was 32 weeks pregnant I had an episode of tachycardia and my husband managed to get me to the ER. In a frenzy the ER staff hooked me up to monitors and clocked my heart rate at an alarming 256 bpm. During the remaining 8 weeks of pregnancy I was monitored closely, wore a halter monitor and tried various medications to control a high resting heart rate.
During delivery my heart rate maxed out at 200bpm, scared my doctor and probably accounted for the large quantities of blood I lost. I was officially frightened of my heart. When my child was 14 days old and I was home alone my heart rate maxed out again at extremely height rate and I left my baby in the crib crying whild I felt I might die crawling to the couch and calling husband at work.
The cardiac specialist explained it to me this way.... I was suffering from Paroxysmal SuperVentricular Tachycardia. Which is not a serious or life threatening condition except that my condition was getting worse as time progressed. My extremities would go cold and numb, cold sweats, faintness, dizzy ness and intense fatigue after an episode. He predicted my condition would continue to get worse resulting in passing out eventually with every episode and muscle damage to the heart by the time I was 50. A week later I had the relatively simple, non-invasive procedure called radio catheter ablation where they burned off several spots on the heart that were causing the redundant electrical signals that amplified my heart rates. My EKGs were normal, my echo was clear showing no damage to the heart after 10 years of this problem and I was given the all clear to return to normal life.... Even caffeine again which I had given up for 10 years.
I'd like to say this event scared me into losing weight but I still vacillated between 200-230 lbs on a 5'5" frame. It wasn't until 8 years later, at 230 lbs, when my husband was diagnosed with diabetes that I was motivated to take action. I changed my diet and lost a bit, joined SparkPeople and lost a bit more, I took up cycling, running and have lost 70 lbs. I now weigh160-165 lbs and am working to lose another 15 lbs. My %body fat has gone from 40 to 33 to 23 over the last 5 years and my BMI has gone from 33 to 29 to 27 now.
I am going to start training in August with a friend for the Tokyo Marathon in February but before that I'm going to ride my first century this summer and climb my first 'real mountain', Mt Fuji, this year. In preparation for all of this I had a cardiac work up to check on my past problems. My blood pressure is 105/65. My EKG is normal. My echo is normal. My exercise induced stress test indicates my heart performs normally during exercise.
The last 13 years has been an unbelievable trip for me. From lying on the couch feeling I might die with my screaming baby in the other room, being unable to play games with my kids because I couldn't move well enough, being content to put puzzles together or play Legos on the floor because it didn't require much moving to running 2-3 miles a day, running a marathon, cycling for miles and miles and cycling up steep hills in my neighborhood. I am definitely living a more full and fun life today than I ever did before.
I am so thankful my heart has carried me this far. I will do everything I can do, every day to keep it healthy.
I HAVE A HEALTHY HEART!!!! WOO HOO!!!!