A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Hearty read..

Posted by Pepper on February 3, 2016

WARNING: LONG POST

It all started with me discovering that my heart rate was abnormally high. A normal resting heart beats between 60 to 100 times per minute. My average resting heart rate is 130. This condition is called Tachycardia. I haven’t really experienced breathlessness or any other symptom that typically accompanies the tachycardia. I did feel palpation every now and then. But most of it came when I was anxious, nervous or angry. I figured it was normal. The lack of other symptoms made it easy for me to ignore it all and move on.

I did read up about Tachycardia online, but I still didn’t think I had enough information about it. Is it something that I need to worry about? Does it need to be treated? What are the consequences of having long term Tachycardia? I kept promising myself I would see a cardiologist someday soon, but I never really did

When we were in Chennai this time, we decided to get done with our annual health check up. Because really, the tests were so much cheaper there! So one fine morning, we set out to the lab and got our blood work, chest x-ray and abdominal scans done. It was time for the ECG. As per the usual procedure, I was asked to lie down. The technician went on to attach all the wires onto me.

All of a sudden, I heard her telling me to relax and calm down. This confused me, because until then, I was fairly relaxed and calm. Turns out, the first shot of the ECG showed a very high heart rate and it made the technician believe it was caused by severe panic. I told her I wasn’t panicking at all. She said she would try again. Unfortunately, it showed the same thing a second time.

So instead of proceeding with the test again, she let me be for a few minutes, thinking that would calm me down. As for me, I kept wondering what was going on. She reappeared after 10 minutes and decided to do the final test. That one showed my resting heart rate as 142. The result of the ECG said “Severe tachycardia, otherwise normal ECG”. What does ‘otherwise normal’ mean, I asked? Is it normal or is it not? The technician seemed confused herself and told me it was best if I checked with a cardiologist.

I was not too keen to consult a cardiologist in Chennai. I preferred getting back to Mumbai and doing it. Mint however, seemed to have made up his mind. He was of the opinion that we shouldn’t waste time and that we should get it done in Chennai itself. Also, his dad knew a very senior cardiologist whose opinion is highly valued. So along with all our reports, off we went.

This cardiologist too was quite taken aback by my heart rate. He told me it wasn’t something I could ignore. Having such a high heart rate constantly is bound to wear out the heart too soon. Our first step, he said was to understand the cause. He wanted to know if my thyroid levels were normal. They were. I knew this since I had just done my blood work. So I needed to go through a few more tests.

He said if all those tests were clear and we successfully ruled out all possible ailments, then we would have to attribute it to me being a ‘Type A personality”. I would have to then make some lifestyle changes, learn to be more calm, practice breathing exercises and then reevaluate my condition in a few months. If none of that worked, then I would have to be put on life long drugs to keep the heart rate in control. This, he agreed was the very last option and hopefully we would never have to consider it. In the mean time, he told me it was important to make sure I don’t run.

All of this left me really concerned. In my head, I had expected the cardiologist to tell me all this was nothing. I could ignore it and get on with life. I certainly didn’t expect to be put through more tests. And I never considered the possibility of being put on heart meds! I promised myself I would do all I could to lower the heart rate naturally.

I had been asked to do two tests. The first test was a 2D Echo and a color doppler. Getting this done was fairly simple. This test tests the mechanical functioning of the heart. The second test was 24 hour Holter monitoring. This one got me all nervous. Electrodes attached to wires connecting to a heart monitor would be strapped on to my chest for 24 hours. This would give the doctors an accurate reading of my heart rate for a full day. They would know my heart rate when I am sleeping, when I am screaming (yes, the doc actually said that), or when I am stressed. This would test the electrical functioning of the heart.

Again, I wasn’t too keen on doing the tests in Chennai. But Mint rightly pointed out that I would keep pushing it once I got back to Mumbai. I didn’t want to be wearing the heart monitor in Chennai and Mint too agreed it made more sense to do that in Mumbai. But I did agree to get the echo and the doppler done there. So once again I found myself in a cardiac diagnostic center.

I got to consult another senior cardiologist here. During the Echo, I was trying to come to terms with the idea of having the technicians and docs prod my bare boobs with various scanning devices. Sigh. During one such prodding, the senior doc looked at my heart rate on the screen and asked me why it was so high. I laughed and told him I was waiting for him to tell me that. He told me my Echo looked okay on the whole, so why was the heart rate so high. “Why so much tension, ma? Relax!”. Ah, okay.

I was jubilant though because my echo results were normal. This doctor told me the same thing. To practice breathing exercises, make sure I don’t run or do any cardio work out till my heart rate is in control. I always thought that I SHOULD do cardio to lower my heart rate. And now two senior cardiologists were telling me to not go ahead with it till it was lowered. So how do I lower it? Apparently, the answer is yoga, meditation and no stress.

I had some nagging doubts in my head and decided to consult my gynecologist after I got back to Bombay. She said what I suspected. That she wasn’t entirely sure if it was a good idea for me to go through a pregnancy in future if my heart rate was so high. She did say it would be okay if I took heart meds at that time. Bah, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through the risk of subjecting my unborn child to such deadly drugs right from the fetal stage. So maybe thinking of having our own child didn’t make sense. Atleast not any time soon. I don’t know why this was even bothering me so much. I wanted to adopt anyway. Why was I now wanting to have a child the moment I was told it would be hard for me to have one?

She could see I was visibly disturbed by all of this. She said we would deal with it when the time came. No point worrying about it now. For now, she suggested I get one more opinion from a cardiologist if I ever wanted to consider a pregnancy. Before letting me go, she decided to take one look at my current heart rate and strapped me to a monitor. This time, I was really panicking. The monitor showed 158! One reading even showed 163. Before I knew it, I had two nurses shaking me and asking me if I could breathe. This made me panic even more and it took me a long time to calm down. I kept telling myself the reading had been so erratic only because I had been panicking.

This has been a very long post, so I am going to share my remaining thoughts later. I am yet to do the Holter monitoring test. That one will give a steady reading for a good 24 hours. I also plan to meet a cardiologist again and figure out my plan. And while I am a little miffed that this is happening to me, I am also so relieved that I don’t have to deal with any major ailment. My echo is normal and that is enough reason to rejoice. The smaller issues, well, I’ll deal with them along the way.

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62 Responses to “Hearty read..”

  1. Arch said

    Oh Pepper! Take care!
    Do get the other test done too, so it gives a fair idea on how your heart rate is on a normal day. Do take care.

  2. dominique said

    So holters when? This is idiopathic tachycardia? I mean no medical cause?

    • Pepper said

      I feel some kind of reluctance in doing it. I tried scheduling it once, but they said the device was available only the next week. I didn’t follow up. I no I should get to it.

      What is idiopathic tachycardia? I guess it is no medical cause. The ECG just says ‘Sinus tachycardia’.

  3. Big hugs Pepper. Although not in a similar condition, I can totally understand when you say/expect the doctor to tell you there is nothing to worry. I have had that feeling every time sitting across the orthopedic for my bad spine. I’m glad you figured it out at least now. And again, when something becomes forbidden, it becomes all the more sweet.. We humans are quite funny that way – again talking from personal experience. For now, take good care. Big hugs again.

  4. Ah this reminds me of a few years ago when I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse syndrome after having something like a panic attack at a restaurant. I was told I could take medication if I wanted but that if I could bring it under control with meditation and some breathing exercises it would be preferable. Hugs Pepper! Count your blessings – this really sounds like something that you can deal with. And in the meanwhile, try to do some meditation/yoga and reduce the stress in every day life.

    P.S. What worked for me was getting a lot of cuddles every day and increasing the number of times I said and heard the words “I love you” from my parents and husband. It might sound silly but it really went a long way in keeping me calm.

    • Pepper said

      God, now that sounds scary! But then I Googled for mitral valve prolapse syndrome and it does say that it doesn’t need treatment as such, so I am glad you didn’t take the meds! I feel very wary of taking meds when they can be avoided.

      No, what worked for you doesn’t sound silly at all. I love that therapy too. I am a complete cuddle bug who loves to cuddle and be cuddled. Same with the I love yous… they work wonder for me too. I should keep that going, but most importantly I think I need to stay away from the stress inducers.

  5. That sounds bit scary, but looks like it can be controlled and there are ways to save yourself from the future pains. You may need to find ways to delegate more of your stressful responsibilities at work and carry less load mentally. You were and are mentally taxed from past year or so. I am sure you will turn it around. Best wishes Pepper.
    Besides, having a baby when you were told it is risky – that is, our brains are trying to defend it. It is a normal feeling and I have experienced it multiple times in various other areas. When you were told-you cannot do, you will want to do it by all means..:)
    Your determination usually wins. Take Care.

    • Pepper said

      Yes, I have already stepped back a bit from work. It was highly stressful all of last year and i guess it showed. This year I have made a conscious effort to take it easy. Hope it helps..

      I know, our brain plays tricks when we are told we can’t have something! I hope I ultimately make decisions based on what I REALLY want..

  6. Hugs Pepper !! Take it easy …. Hopefully the next test will show better results …

  7. vijayaa108 said

    Wishing you all the very best for a long and healthful life!
    Take care and trust in Bhagavan!
    Hope and pray all goes well for you!

  8. Priya said

    so scary to read. I am sure it is stressing you out. Good luck with everything. sending good wishes and prayers your way.

  9. S said

    That sounds very scary 😦 With your heart rate so fast, does it feel like you can hear your heart beating? The way people feel after climbing stairs?

    Meditation and yoga is the key I think. And then you must have Green Tea. I remember your post on infusers, that should do you good too. Take care.

  10. Bhavani said

    Oh god!! I am so sorry you are going through this!!! Anything heart related scares us!! I think you made the right choice by going to the Drs without delay…..take care Pepper..hope your other tests come back ok and you don’t have to take any meds..

    Sending best wishes and hugs!!

  11. rugved said

    weed! you mentioned about going for a check up this week, didn’t realize the whole bit. after reading the entire post, I am coming to terms with the seriousness of the issue. Take care man. I am certain it tachycardia isn’t something that is difficult to get rid off. If you want, I shall speak to my mother as well. She is a good doctor. You will of course have to assist me with the reports. Let me know

  12. Very relieved to know that the ECHO came back normal.
    Running or any cardio will make the heart beat faster, and hence would be counter-intuitive to do it, no?
    Please make big place for yoga and meditation in your life babes. Take care of yourself, everything else can wait.
    {{Big Tight Hugs}}

  13. Aiyaiyo! Time to really make some healthy changes. Join Tai Chi classes, it’s supposed to be very calming. Definitely go for pranayam classes.
    And he is right about not doing cardio. My heartbeat after running or cardio is around 140-170, and that’s when fat burns too. You stay safe. Just stay in bed. Make Mint do everything. 🙂

  14. Deepa said

    love, hugs and prayers(lots of them) from us to you honey, all the way from cal and beyond.

    Starting a meditation practice is very, very hard for us A++ types and I tried, gave up, tried again many a times till I’ve finally found a way that works for me. chanting. Yup, something I thought moi would never ever do. That mumbo jumbo wasn’t for me I thought. Whodhavethunkit but it works now. Choose any chant that makes you feel calmer and more at peace and start with 10 minutes at a time, any time of the day morning or at end of the day. End of the day when you light your aroma diffuser would be a wonderful way to wind down. Start and then keep going one day at a time.

    Best, always.

    • Pepper said

      Oh yes! I think I need to chant too. Meditation without chanting is a futile exercise for me. Makes my mind wander endlessly.. Chanting will help keep you focused. I should try!

  15. S said

    Yes before going on a heavy medication try yoga and meditation. Its easily available. If you believe go and learn Reiki. Trust me it works. Even if you do not just give it a try just the way we try medicines and doctors. It must be done early morning. 5am-6am only. And a 20min walk in open air. Doing it later does work but highest output is when its done morning when you refreshed from sleep. For your reference: http://www.speakingtree.in/blog/the-magic-of-reiki-meditation
    If you want more on reiki I can give you a contact in Pune.
    All you have to give time and dedication. But it will spare you of the life time of medication. Medicines do have some side effects now or later so why not try something that is possible easily. Ultimately money and working matters if we are fit to indulge it. Time, work and money are all related. If you save time you end spending more, if you give time you earn a bit less(maybe as priorities change) but it is we to decide what we want at the end.

    • Pepper said

      I am not much of a believer in Reiki but I have heard so many people swear by it. It is worth a shot. And yes, almost anything is better than a life time of medication that invariably leaves you with lasting side effects!

      Your last line, that is so true!

  16. meenu224 said

    Hi Pepper, i can relate to this post soo much.
    It all started when i was around 19 weeks pregnant. Till then i apparently didn’t show any signs of tachycardia. But during my 19th week, i went for the routine monthly visit when the nurse took my pulse and panicked. She told me to relax and took the reading again and it showed 160. Th whole clinic went into a frenzy and the doctor rushed me to the emergency and he looked very very worried. I was completely thrown off too and was in tears already. They did a whole lot of tests and everything looked normal. I was hooked on to the holter monitor for a good 36 hours and they couldn’t find anything. Finally they let me go asking me to be calm and not to take stress. Rest of the pregnancy was normal even though the heart rate was elevated.
    I delivered a healthy baby and the entire delivery process went on smoothly without a hitch. But then even now, i feel palpitations and i do feel scared. But after my pregnancy i didnt really visit any doc for tachycardia. Maybe i should. I always thought it had to do with my weight since i was and am overweight. But seeing your post, looks like weight is not really the major cause thought it may have contributed in some way. Anyways, i liked the last line “well, I’ll deal with them along the way”, ditto!!!!

    • Pepper said

      So from what I have read and been told, Tachycardia is common during pregnancy. Here is an excerpt from an article,

      ‘In pregnancy, heart rate (HR) increases by 25%; thus sinus tachycardia, particularly in the third trimester, is not uncommon. Ectopic beats and non‐sustained arrhythmia are encountered in more than 50% of pregnant women investigated for palpitations while sustained tachycardias are less common at around 2–3/1000.4,5,6″

      This is exactly why I have been told to not consider a pregnancy until my heart rate is in control. If my heart rate is already so high, they dont feel too happy thinking of a 25% increase. That could be dangerous for me.

      I am glad you didn’t face complications during pregnancy and delivery. Anyway, if you still continue to feel palpitations, I think it would be wise to check with a doctor.

  17. parijatshukla2014 said

    hope it doesnt turn out to be anything serious. Pl strictly follow whatever med experts suggest.

  18. Priya said

    Hi Pepper,
    I always thought that you look and sound so much like me. Unfortunately I do share a similar heart scenario. In short, my resting heart rate was 120 bpm before the TMT and a similar high number at the cardiologists office. Likewise even I cleared the stress test, echo test and the doc has said my heart is in good shape. I keep monitoring my resting heart rate at home…it is around 85 bpm. Don’t know why I freak out at the doctor’s office. I do have palpitations at times, especially a day before my period.
    I did have two healthy pregnancies and both my girls were delivered normal.
    *Hugs*
    P

  19. Deepa said

    Oh, you poor thing! Hugs to you, hope you feel better soon..

  20. Hey there! Take care! Long time since I read any blogs and here I am reading this 😦 You please do what the doctors tell you, and please dont put it off anymore!

    Praying that this turns out to be something small and wont affect your life in any major way

  21. ohh bless ! hoping everything goes well and you are sent back home, stating you are fit and fine, pepper !

  22. MR said

    Hope you find a resolution to this. best wishes..

  23. The Bride said

    Wow, glad you’re okay even though you’re not okay! I hope your problem can be figured out without resorting to the drugs. “Why was I now wanting to have a child the moment I was told it would be hard for me to have one?” Ah, welcome to the human mind. I was all la di da about having a baby, but the mere whiff that it might be not quite so easy for me focused my mind nicely.

    • Pepper said

      I know, I know. The human mind is so complex. I don’t want to make a decision based on my immediate reaction..Hopefully I’ll know what I truly want once I sleep over it for sometime and think calmly..

  24. Smita said

    God!!

    Don’t know what to say….but good that at least you know all about it…it won’t hit you out of the blue one day like it did to our Bro In Laws, right?

    I am sure all will be fine! Just do what the docs say!

  25. Ariana said

    Pepper, my hubs had tachycardia and his heart was fine overall. But he found yawning, or running sometimes stopped the high rate kind of like flipping it off and on.
    Unfortunately last year for him his high rate would not stop for over 12 hours and he had to have a defibrillation (electric shock) to reset it.
    Certain things trigger it and one of the things we found was his magnesium levels were consistently low. Now think of it this way your heart is a pump. The pump is fine but the electric wiring to it is messed up. Magnesium is an essential electrolyte. So we started eating magnesium rich foods. Magnesium occurs naturally in water but treatments in the US take it out bcos it makes water ” hard”. The magnesium seems to help. Check your magnesium levels.
    PS: milk is not good source of magnesium but coconut water is.

    • Pepper said

      Wow, the defibrillation, or electric shock to reset the heart really terrified me. Just reading about it. Did it help btw? Was his heart rate lowered after the process was done?

      Thanks for the tip! I love coconut water. Will try and have it everyday now..

  26. My Era said

    Reading this post, gave me tachycardia. Stress seems to be the principal cause of all ailments in the modern world.
    Sending loads of peace your way and prayers to help you get your heart rate in control naturally.
    Take care 🙂

  27. I hope you get an all clear to do whatever you want to do!
    Also wanted to know which hosp did you go to.Have been wanting to get a physical done .. but keep postponing it!

    • Pepper said

      Are you talking about the tests we did in Chennai? We went to Hitech Labs. They have great prices and seemed very reliable. For 1500 bucks we got complete blood work, ECG, Chest x-ray and abdominal scans done. They have many different packages based on your needs, and some include consultations with all kinds of docs.

  28. D said

    Health issues are the worst side effect of adulthood!! ….Pls take care ..hope everything comes out ok. Btw, Yoga does seem to solve many problems I have heard….So all the best and do update on the results of the other test…All the best..take care…!!..

  29. Take care Pepper!
    I hope the stress of managing your business is taking a toll on you; and as the doc says, go for meditation & yoga and maybe a relaxing holiday too!

  30. […] other big concern was my high heart rate. I remember some doctor expressing concern about how a pregnancy would affect my already elevated heart rate. And then there were the usual concerns. Will this pregnancy result in a healthy baby? Honestly, […]

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