February 22, 2017 Posted by Rosina Morse

Correcting my cardiac arrhythmia

This past March (2008), I underwent a procedure to alleviate a cardiac arrhythmia called supraventricular tachycardia. Two days before the catheter ablation, I was so stressed out I was sobbing myself to sleep at night, out of fear that I would experience one of a few known complications while I was on the table, and that my life would be forever altered-or worse, ended. There was the possibility, however remote, that I would experience a blood clot and suffer a stroke, or that the radiofrequency laser the doctor would use to ablate my tissue would get too close to a node and I'd end up needing to wear a pacemaker for the rest of my life.

Of course, none of that happened. The whole thing went off as well as it possibly could have. I went home that night, and even though I had severe painful hematoma from bleeding at my groin where one of the larger catheters had been inserted, this was only a temporary malady that would eventually clear itself up, read shaundona.com/protandim-reviews.html. I couldn't stand up for very long or stretch very deeply or experience any pressure in that area for several days because of the swelling, but it was probably for the best-to make sure I rested and didn't try to do too much directly after the procedure.

No stroke, no pacemaker, only a quietly beating heart whose corrected rhythm I could not detect without placing my hand over the area of my heart and feeling the heartbeat. At first this really freaked me out, why wasn't my heart pounding? Was it beating OK? Where were the unnatural, erratic rhythms I'd grown accustomed to self-monitoring throughout every day?

Tachycardia feels like you are in a constant state of anxiety: a constant fight or flight sensation. Even when your brain is telling you this sensation is unnecessary, the abnormal nerve pathways in your heart are causing irregular rapid beats that mean your heart is pumping blood in the way it does when the body literally is in the fight or flight situation (which is any stress-inducing situation, not necessarily life or death). I've gone through all of my life until now feeling and listening to my heart beat out of control, using deep breathing to calm my nervous system, which would eventually allow my heart rate to return to normal. I never thought much of it except that I was easily put out of breath so I never had good endurance for swimming and cycling-both of which I love. I always had accepted it as my fate, until October 2007.

Cycling between yoga classes I was teaching on a beautiful and warm fall day, I started to feel that sensation building, and I did my best to bring the rate back to normal. I was leading some opening stretches at my second yoga class that day when I had to stop the class. I felt dizzy, short of breath, and my heart rate was spiraling out of control. It's the closest I've come to feeling my life pass before me. If there had been no medical care available to me, this would have been my last day. Fortunately, the nurse on staff took immediate charge of the situation and monitored me until the EMS arrived. I knew there was something very wrong when she ordered the AED equipment placed next to her. The EMS personnel started an IV line and injected a drug called adenosine, which caused my heart to stop beating, allowing my heart to re-register a normal rhythm. And off we went to the ER.

Medications were not the solution for me: too many side effects. My internist told me if I intended to travel to any destinations where medical care might not be readily available, I would need to undergo the catheter ablation. When I experienced another severe episode of tachycardia in January 2008, I knew I needed to locate an electrophysiologist who I trusted to perform this procedure. I did not want to continue visiting emergency rooms every few months.

The procedure itself was painless, and you lose your fear once the anesthesia cocktail is administered. I was semi-conscious for part of it, and I could hear the conversations among the various medical staff involved in the procedure. The objective of a catheter ablation is to isolate the abnormal nerve tissue in the heart that is causing the tachycardia by stimulating that tissue to become tachycardic. Then the electrophysiologist uses radiofrequency energy to burn the tissue so it can no longer send or receive impulses. So even though I felt a little scared on the table in my semi-conscious state to have my heart beating in this way, the drugs are powerful enough to make you lay there and relax through it. When I told the nurse I felt my heart beating really fast, I felt her hand on me and I heard her say, "It's OK, Vicki, we're taking good care of you." And I remember thinking, "I guess they found the right spot, then."

As it turns out, the doctor reported to me at my follow-up that the procedure included several such stimulations of my heart. He reported that the affected area in my heart was wide enough that they stimulated and ablated several times until he was confident they had destroyed as much of the abnormal tissue as possible. So I'd been aware of only one episode, when really they had already induced the tachycardia through several abnormal nerve pathways before I was conscious of it. Several zaps, as it were, not just the one when I heard the doctor say "OK, we're going to ablate."

Afterward, I felt so incredibly calm in my body, almost mellow. I noticed this feeling immediately, while I was still in the recovery room. Without my heart beating out of control my internal landscape feels relaxed and unstressed-the doctor said he hears this from a lot of his patients: because we don't know what a normal heart rate feels like, it takes some getting used to. I still wonder whether the doctor managed to ablate all the abnormal nerve tissue that had been causing the tachycardia. Will I experience again the life-threatening arrhythmia of this past fall and winter? He says there is about a 1% chance that I will, but for the most part I am convinced that the tachycardia will not return and that I can live with the benefits of a normally beating heart for the rest of my life.

I am grateful to Dr. Sung Lee and his medical staff at Washington Adventist Hospital. They do superior work and provide superior care. If you or any of your folk need cardiac treatment, don't hesitate to contact their practice, Cardiovascular Consultants, in Takoma Park or Bethesda, Maryland.