Search This Blog

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Three Months without an SVT

I just have to say that I'm celebrating today that I have gone three months without an SVT.   Now watch, I'll get one tomorrow, because tomorrow will April 1st, and my last one was February 2nd, the one prior to that was October 6th, and the on prior to that was July 12th; just about three months apart.

I can't say why I have been having SVT's every three months, but I'm glad they aren't happening more frequently.

This last span, I have tried several things to keep myself from having an SVT.....

1.  Drink 8 glasses of water per day.
2.  Eat at least one banana a day to keep potassium levels up.
3.  Take 350 mg. magnesium glycinate in divided doses per day.
4.  If my stomach hurts, try not to allow myself to get too stressed out, because I believe the SVT's are being triggered by a nervous stomach, meaning that the nerve (vagus nerve) that wanders through the heart and the stomach might be getting irritated by the stomach and which, I believe, triggers the heart to beat crazy, and each SVT episode has happened when my stomach has been irritated.  Stress makes my stomach even more irritated.
5.  Eat a balanced gluten free low-fat plant based diet (and no sugar)
6.  Try to get enough sleep each night (that is nearly impossible for a mother of seven, but I try)
7.  Try not to get angry.  This goes with not being stressed out.  Every SVT has happened on a day when I have been upset with someone or about something, accompanied by very strong emotions.

So far so good, and I hope to say "so long" to SVT's.

That being said my PVC's have been very frequent this week, but they don't seem to be triggering SVT's which I thought they did.  They are being triggered by being tired.  I can tell.

I'll just keep crossing fingers and report again three months from now if I make it through the next three months without an SVT.  Wish me luck!

Monday, March 4, 2013

PVC's and the Vagus Nerve

Without taking the time to go back to my numerous blog posts, I think I have written my theories on the connection between SVT and the vagus nerve.

Luckily, I haven't had an SVT in two months.  I'm so grateful!

But!  I continue to have annoying bouts of premature ventricular contractions (PVC's), none yet today, thank Goodness!

The past few days have been particularly stressful and I have had a lot of PVC's.  After a long trying day and a PVC loaded day, I came home a Googled, PVC's Vagus Nerve because I have noticed that my PVC's ramp up with my stomach hurts and I theorized that the stomach upset was triggering the vagus nerve to trigger the heart to add extra beats into the rhythm.  While I do not know who wrote this explanation, it makes a lot of sense, and although I don't know who wrote it, and if the person is even really an M.D., or qualified to write it, he explained me to the T.

The following e-mail came from a Yahoo group discussing SVT and PVC phenomenon.  A person has posted this on another PVC forum and I am copying and pasting it here, for my benefit, so I can have it more accessible to read for comfort and for others who may want to consider this person's explanation as cause for PVC's.  I truly believe this explanation is accurately describing my issues and it has given me an extreme amount of peace.

So without further adieu, I'm now posting the link where I found this e-mail and the e-mail itself.  Hopefully, someday someone can let me know who to give credit to for this.....

Here is the link....

And here is the letter.....

Letter from MD
I want to start by talking about a very special part of the human anatomy that does not seem to appear in the collective messages I've reviewed; The VAGUS nerve. The vagus nerve, also referred to as the 10th cranial nerve, is appropriately termed a "mixed" nerve. It provides a sort of two-way communication of nerve impulses back and forth between the brain and the pharynx,larynx, esophagus, stomach and associated abdominal viscera(basically, your throat, windpipe, your tummy and guts), the heart, lungs and several more complex but irrelevant body organs or functions. The vagus nerve is the longest and most complex of the cranial nerves in the body.

The key point here is to make note that this nerve involves the "heart," the "lungs" and basically the whole digestive system of your tummy and intestines. Now let's pair that with some real specific and limited physiology about the heart and its rhythm. We also need to bring clarity to some of the medical jargon being talked about by many of you in your messages. The term PVC, or Premature Ventricular Contraction, is just one of many arrhythmia and not necessarily isolated to what many term as "palpitations." When we speak of palpitations, what we really mean is the presence of "ectopic" beats (heartbeats where there should not normally be) and the precise induction of these beats is felt by us as dancing of our heart or a flutter sensation in our chest, the prominence or intensity of which is determined by the precise moment of the extra beats in proximity to the most recent beat and the upcoming beat or contraction of the heart ventricles or atria.  
Think of it in relation to your memory of your worst date, where the guy you're with has no rhythm whatsoever but wants to impress you with all the right moves and clumsily tries to introduce his own dance-step into your otherwise smoothly flowing and natural pace with the music. Depending upon his rather untimely entry, he can cause awkwardness that either simply causes you to quickly pause and regain your rhythm or literally trip you repeatedly until you're forced to leave the dance floor. Well, the same holds true for the heart in our example. The extra beat, or palpitation might come at a point that's subtle, or it might be at a point where the heart stumbles repeatedly until normal sinus rhythm is regained. Now let's get to "why" palpitations occur.
The key point here is to make note that this nerve involves the "heart," the "lungs" and basically the whole digestive system of your tummy and intestines. Now let's pair that with some real specific and limited physiology about the heart and its rhythm.
Think of it in relation to your memory of your worst date, where the guy you're with has no rhythm whatsoever but wants to impress you with all the right moves and clumsily tries to introduce his own dance-step into your otherwise smoothly flowing and natural pace with the music.Depending upon his rather untimely entry, he can cause awkwardness that either simply causes you to quickly pause and regain your rhythm or literally trip you repeatedly until you're forced to leave the dance floor. Well, the same holds true for the heart in our example. The extra beat, or palpitation might come at a point that's subtle, or it might be at a point where the heart stumbles repeatedly until normal sinus rhythm is regained. Now let's get to "why" palpitations occur.The heart has a natural pacemaker called the sinoatrial node among several less distinct and similar pacers, which is stimulated by guess which nerve? You guessed it; The VAGUS nerve.
The vagus nerve helps regulate the heart in comparison to other functions taking place with other areas and is doing its job right now in each and every one of us. In fact, the variability of your heart rate during inspiration and expiration of your lungs is an effect of the vagus nerve. We've all noticed that when we take a breath in, our heart tends to beat just a little faster and when we breath out, a little slower. It's an entirely normal bodily function and is connected to the need by the body's system to respond to the environment.Now that we kind of have a little medical background under our belts, let's take one of the complaints by many of you regarding the proximity or timely appearance of palpitations and indigestion.
Remember that we said the vagus nerve is linked to both the tummy, the throat and the heart. Let's assume that we've eaten meal and it's caused us to experience some gastrointestinal discomfort, or in other
words, gas. The irregular presence and activity by your tummy and intestines stimulates, more appropriately irritates, the vagus nerve which sends a rather inappropriate signal back along the pathway to
guess where? That's right! The heart. Move to the head of the class. The heart is busy pacing away regularly and is relatively unconcerned with all the food you poured into your tummy, when all of a sudden in comes a signal from the vagus nerve because it has been inappropriately stimulated and tells the heart to beat. Well, just like our bad date example, the signal to beat is rather untimely and awkward but the heart has to accept it and respond. The result is extra beats that make the heart feel like it is stumbling. The degree to which it stumbles oftentimes depends upon the extent to which the vagus nerve is irritated and the relative state of indigestion present as the causative agent.
There is most often no pain associated with this occurrence because it is not the result of a lack of blood or oxygen that creates the palpatation, but rather just a simple additional electrical impulse or series of impulses. Pericardial pain, or pain adjacent to the heart, can sometimes accompany palpitations or exist exclusive of any arrhythmia, but is not necessarily considered pathologic or harmful to us. Remember that we're dealing with inappropriate electrical impulses and muscle tissue other than the heart that is partially
innervated by the vagus nerve and can respond inappropriately, causing a jabbing or shooting pain than many describe as a "catch" in their chest. We'll talk more about chest pain in a bit.
Let's discuss the sensation that some of you described as a warm flushing sensation of your face and perhaps other body areas that accompanies the palpitations. Recall our anatomy lesson. The vagus
nerve stimulates many areas of the body in response to our environment or internal conditions caused by the outside environment, ie. a meal that produces indigestion. The vagus nerve provides all of us with a stable process called vagal tone. This tone or stability keeps us in a state of balance so to speak with our environment. In response to environmental cues or situations, that tone or stability changes to prepare for what may be required. You've probably all seen a guy that makes your heart "skip a beat." Ever wonder why that phrase ever came about? Think for a moment. If you've ever been emotionally overcome, your heart races or feels like it pounds in your chest, we begin sweating, our blood pressure rises, we feel nervous and at some point our face is overcome by a warm flushing sensation that we attribute to nervousness or embarrassment. Well, guess what nerve plays a very big role in that entire process? Right Again!!! The VAGUS nerve.
The above scenario would be a case of increased vagal tone. Well, if there's an increase, there's likely to be a case of decreased vagal tone as well. Indeed there is. decreased vagal tone can make us weak, nauseated, tremble, and even faint. It happens in cases of being excessively startled or frightened. Other conditions, such as diabetes can cause decreased vagal tone, but for our purposes we'll stick to conditions that by what I've read from all of you are non-disease provoking conditions, with the exception of one individual with Mitral Valve Prolapse but we'll touch on that in a bit.
Anyway, the point is that our body doesn't always accurately recognize proper environmental cues and the vagus nerve doesn't always know when and how to act. In other words, it misbehaves once in a while as a result of inappropriate stimulation. All sorts of things make the vagus nerve act out, including stress, anxiety,
depression, illness and even idiopathic causes(origin or cause is unknown). In fact, there is work going on right now using electrical vagus nerve stimulation to treat depression, anxiety and even seizures.
And here's a little extra for those who cough when experiencing a palpitation. Recall your anatomy lesson again. Remember we said the vagus nerve stimulate the pharynx, larynx, bronchi and esophagus. Well, what do you know. Those are exactly the processes involved in the cough reflex. So when the vagus nerve inappropriately stimulates the heart and causes a palpitation it also stimulates in some cases the cough reflex. How about that!So we begin to see that the cause for palpitations and the palpitation itself is not a life-threatening occurence at all. It concerns us for several reasons. First, it has to do with our heart and hey, that's the thing that keeps us alive basically. Big concern! Secondly, we've been bombarded by all the medical revelations and awareness about heart disease. But a case for heart disease does not make for every condition the heart demonstrates, especially palpitations. If you've ever had a cramp in your hand from typing too much, it probably never gave you pause to think you might not make it, so to speak. You reason in your mind that the cramp is caused by repetition fatigue and you need to take a break, massage your hand and rest momentarily. Well, palpitations can be considered sort of a cramp and nothing more. Under stress and other factors we talked about, the vagus nerve gets irritated or fatigued and acts out. Just because the heart is affected, doesn't mean that you've got heart disease or vascular problems that are looming. They're annoying, worrisome and even frightening, but knowing where they come from and why will help go a long way in knowing that they are non-injurous and if we respond appropriately, will subside and we can go about our lives with far less worry.
Let's touch on anxiety for a moment. Anxiety, and depression too, can definitely cause a state of dysfunction in many areas of our body. Many patients who have these disorders are exhausted from constantly presenting themselves to the medical community with real and valid symptoms of pain, fatigue, bowel problems, vision problems, tinnitus or ringing in the ears, difficulty swallowing, excessive saliva, dry
mouth, sore or sensitive tongue, and many many more troublesome circumstances only to have repeated tests all return normal. How can that possibly be?!! It's there, we feel it, we experience it, we hate
it. Why doesn't the test confirm that it's there? How frustrating is that????

Well, here's some news that should make you feel a bit less frustrated and even comfort you. Most all tests are based upon the algorithmic, or sequential processing, of certain symptoms and signs that are all conclusive of various disease and illness. When someone with anxiety, depression or other condition that has somatic features (felt physically)undergoes these tests, the components that underlie the actual diseases which have similar symptoms simply does not add up and no presence of the actual disease is evident. So it's a case of false identity, sort of like having a biopsy of a mole that turns out to be benign. Looks like cancer, but is not cancer. Well, that same thing can happen to us with regard to all sorts of disorders and
diseases. They look similar in presentation, but one reveals true disease and the other a nonpathologic condition or illness. So the next time your doctor tells you he can't find anything wrong, be glad for that much at least. Many people get far worse news!
So with regard to depression and anxiety, these conditions impart disturbance upon body functions. I suppose you're already guessing that the vagus nerve is not exempt from those circumstances and
you're exactly right. So when you have an episode of anxiety, rest easy when you have a palpitation or two, or three or even four. The vagus nerve is irritated and needs a break or to reset. No problem whatsoever and you needn't worry any longer that a palpitation is sure indication of worse things to come. Nothing else happens. Just an extra heartbeat or two where there should not normally be. What a relief!!!!!
And the caveat I promised to the one individual with Mitral Valve Prolapse, your heart condition, while not necessarily life-threatening at all, does predispose you to panic disorder which I'm sure you are probably already aware.

Okay, so now we know what these palpitations are and what causes them. What the heck do we do about them? Well, there are several techniques that can help. Firstly, let me say that if a run of palpitations makes you feel faint or weak, don't panic and try to make it somewhere less embarrassing. Be safe and think smart. Squat to your knees or sit down until the feeling subsides. No sense in cracking open your skull by trying to make a mad dash for privacy. Anyone can feel faint and people in your company will always rally to
your aid more often than not. So relax. The conditions will quickly pass and you'll be back to yourself in a jiffy.

Secondly, if you sense indigestion and gas, discomfort and bloating when the palpitations are present, try merely changing positions which often causes the distention to realign from its offending position proximal to the vagus nerve.
If you're pregnant, well indigestion or gestation. It doesn't matter. What's important to realize is that both conditions represent a temporary rearrangement and limited space downstairs. That means proximity or closeness to the nerve receptors of the VAGUS nerve and you're going to get palpitations when conditions are right. As for the palpitations themselves, taking slow, deep breaths repeatedly will typically cause the palpitations to cease. Recall your anatomy lesson. The vagus nerve stimulates the lungs as well as the heart, so this purposeful stimulating of intention-breathing will often interrupt the irritation signal.

If you're experiencing tachycardia(racing heart), then if a fountain or bathroom is nearby, apply cold water from your hands to your face and while holding your hands against your face, press gently, repeat GENTLY, on your eyes. This will invoke what is termed the "dive reflex" and will cause your heart rate to decrease in most cases. Regardless, tachycardia, like palpitations is not harmful in of itself, just a bit unnerving.
The key in all cases is to do your best to remain calm and rational. Know from our little lesson what it actually taking place and that you'll be fine.

Finally, we'll save a lot of space here by simply stating that with regard to any of the conditions either described or that you're experiencing, do not substitute a support group for responsible notification of your symptoms to your personal primary care doctor. We live in an age where medicine is oftentimes scoffed at by many who fail to realize the benefits they expect. Yes, it's true that medicine is not a perfect science, but neither are human beings. It is difficult at best to create perfection from imperfection. But even so, we all must give recognition that many thousands of people are being cured of certain cancers that just a decade ago would have meant their demise. Simple penicillin saves hundreds of thousands in third world countries that would otherwise perish from infection.

So don't become discouraged that medicine doesn't find something wrong with you. Feel blessed that they don't have less encouraging news for you. I exist in an occupational environment where disease and illness is very concentrated. It is of great joy and optimism that I can walk from conditions such as those to the sanctuary of my private life and know that I'll return tomorrow.

You too, all of you, need to be thankful that your condition is benign and that you have the power of influence over its effects.
So kick up your heel, give a shout, grab the keys and your husband's credit cards with the highest limit and PREPARE TO SHOP! Those pesky palpitations are but a mere nuisance and you have the rest of your
life to live, so get busy and do the voodoo that you do best! best regards and good health. Feel free to write if you care to and I'll do my best to answer, but no promises...