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Taking Palpitations to Heart: The Arrhythmia of Life

Heart healthMy body may be telling me that I’m no spring chicken, but in my mind I’m still about 41.  Why 41 you may ask?  I’ve no idea except that it was a good age to be, a time when I felt fulfilled and content with family, friends and life in general. 

I sometimes wonder if it is because I was the baby of our family by many years, somewhat of a surprise in Vatican Roulette I suspect!   When you grow up with adult siblings you always think of yourself as “younger”….and so in my mind I haven’t progressed past 41.

So it comes as a shock when things start to go wrong.  I tend to ignore the obvious signs of ageing.  I don’t justify them, just quietly ignore them and hope they will go away.  After all, I’m “younger” aren’t I?

Obviously I do the same with my husband too, so when he asked me to take him to hospital recently with heart palpitations I secretly suspected he was over-reacting.   However the fact that he was not going to work that day told me that he was worried, as I only ever recall him taking one sick day in all the years we have been together. 

I was supportive that this condition needed to be checked out, but I think both of us were being particularly aware and cautious because a close friend had recently had a serious heart problem that was related to arrhythmia. 

I certainly expected that he’d be home by mid-morning, lunch time at the latest.  So it came as a surprise to me that the hospital took it all very seriously, that Emergency treated it as….well…an Emergency.   Then they said they would take him to the Coronary Care Unit and when we got there I realized just how seriously they were taking David’s condition.  Heart palpitations and arrhythmia are conditions that need to be monitored, that can be symptomatic of critical illness, conditions that can even precipitate strokes.  Woooooo!  Now the truth was hitting home.

I think it was at that point that I realized we are getting older!  We have hit the time of life when things often start to go wrong, and when seemingly small things can turn into big health issues.  That isn’t a pleasant thought, in fact it is downright frightening.

During his hospital stay of 5 days David had many tests and was put on new medication.  It should keep his heart beating regularly, with the proviso that he may need treatment in years to come.  So that problem has been dealt with for now.

But what lesson have we learnt from this?  It’s obviously time for an arrhythmia of our own habits and everyday life.  It's time we considered our heart health and made changes to improve our chances of longevity. We need to change our everyday rhythm of life with a complete health shakeup, a review of our diet and exercise, a recognition that we are no longer young and have to start taking our health seriously. 

My brain recognizes these as facts…..heart health is important….but I have made no changes to our everyday life.   Maybe by writing about it I might internalize the importance of this issue and start making changes to our everyday habits. 

Do you have any suggestions to make this change to a healthier lifestyle less painful?   

By Jenni Proctor