"Don't call for your surgeon, even he says it's late. It's not your lungs this time but your heart holds your fate." Manfred Mann
Although it might be somewhat surprising, the single most popular piece I've written here, and mind you this is a triathlon oriented blog, was on pills. Antihypertensives to be specific; medication for blood pressure control. So this issue will expand on the 12/10/2010 writing that addressed rapid heart rates in general and review a very commonly seen abnormal rhythm called atrial fibrillation also written AF or Afib.
Usually the heart beat is regular and labeled normal sinus rhythm, NSR. But in Afib, the ventricles, or major pumping chambers, receive a rapid, erratic signal and pump at a varying irregular rate. Although some can have AF and be symptom free, others can experience chest pain, dizziness, fainting, or be intolerant to exercise,etc. They can be at a 7-8 times increased risk of suffering a stroke.
The diagnosis is made after obtaining a history, physical exam and EKG. Occasionally an echo cardiogram or blood work are also indicated. Then, one would search for the underlying cause to choose treatment options. Interestingly, a common cause is dehydration. Also found can be an over active thyroid, hypertension, certain types of lung disease, diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, etc. although finding no definite cause is quite common. If the diagnosis is in doubt, the patient can be fit for a monitor which continuously records the EKG for 24 hours or longer. Once this diagnosis is made, the goal of treatment is to restore the heart rate back to a normal level and diminish the risk of stroke.
|"No One Said It Would Be A Piece Of Cake?"|
This hand written note was tied to a sign at about the one mile mark of the bike in Kona in October. A mile later there was one that read, "Cake? We have an App for that!" And a mile later...you get the picture. Isn't it nice that on days when we occasionally feel isolated and exhausted, that we have friends and family to remind us that they're still there, and they care. Make sure you thank them every day.