Remember last year when I spent the afternoon in the ER?
I’ve dealt with Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs) every single day since. Sometimes these flutterings are mildly annoying, other days it feels like my heart is going to pound out of my chest. Earlier this year my doctor had me wear a Holter monitor for 24 hours to ensure the PVCs were non-damaging; at the time I was told my results were normal. As such, I just learned to live with it.
A few weeks ago I went to our onsite clinic for my annual checkup. The nurse started checking my vitals but my blood pressure wouldn’t register on the automatic sphygmomanometer (didn’t really need to use that word, just wanted to see if I could spell it). After the third try it registered at 90/60. Then she manually checked my pulse and found it was around 35 (normal is between 60-100). She clipped the little oxygen thingy onto my finger and it confirmed a pulse of 35. She asked me if I felt ok and quickly hooked me up to an EKG just to make sure I wasn’t dying. I wasn’t. In any case, my doctor referred me to a cardiologist the following week.
Let me just say that a young, fit person gets a LOT of strange looks in a cardiologist’s office.
After listening to my story and checking my heart, the cardiologist explained what’s happening. Apparently the heart is supposed to beat from the top down; when I’m experiencing a PVC it beats from the bottom chamber upward. This causes my heart to not pull in enough blood to push it out strongly to the rest of my body (hence the low blood pressure and pulse). While benign, he wanted to do some further testing to see how frequently these happen and to confirm my heart is still strong. That morning I received an echocardiogram and was fitted with another Holter monitor.
Today I received my test results.
The echocardiogram showed my heart is very strong and healthy. No concern there, thankfully. The Holter monitor confirmed I am experiencing very frequent PVCs – very frequent being defined as > 10,000 PVCs in 24 hours. In the 24 hours I was connected to the monitor I experienced more than 33,000.
So I have two options. I can take a medication that may slow them down but will also make me very fatigued. What working mother of a four-year-old needs that? Or, I can just deal with it and get an echocardiogram once a year to make sure my heart is still strong. Needless to say, I’m going with that option.
I’m relieved there is nothing serious wrong with my heart but at the same time I’m kind of pissed. I’m the healthiest I’ve been in my entire life and yet I have to deal with heart problems! Maybe I’ll just do what my teammates suggest – start eating bacon at every meal.