Matters of the heart

No, this is not an in-depth look into my emotions or spiritual state.  🙂

When I had an appointment the other week with my new doctor, I mentioned that I get palpitations.  I said this with a wince, because the last time I mentioned my heart to a doctor, it was to my OB was when I was pregnant with Audrey.  He sent me to a cardiologist who ROLLED HIS EYES at me, because apparently, it’s common for pregnant women to get palpitations when they are pregnant, and he literally said, “So, you have palpitations.  You’re pregnant.  What are you doing here??”  He cardiologist went out of his way with exaggerated words and body language to let me know I was being an ginormous waste of his time, especially when he didn’t see anything on the electrocardiogram that was of interest to him.  However, I still have palpitations off and on, and thought I should mention it to my new doc.  She thought maybe it was due to a malabsorption issue, due to celiac disease, but without batting an eyelash, she ran an electrocardiogram, which did show some abnormalities.  She attempted to explain these to me, in a way that went WAY over my head, yet I found myself thankful that she was using it as a teaching moment, and discussing it fully with me, and sending me to a cardiologist.

I met yesterday with the cardiologist.  It was a profoundly interesting appointment.  I liked him a ton.  He was very interesting, didn’t belittle my presence at all, explained things fully in a way I understood, encouraged me to Google what he was telling me so that I might understand them further, and he had a clear plan of action.  He also — like my old OB — explained how he was writing up his diagnoses and recommendations very carefully for insurance purposes, so that it would be less likely that I get backed into a corner by any insurance company, later on down the road.  He also agreed with both my former OB and my former primary care doctor, who had suggested to me that I be satisfied with a diagnosis of “presumed celiac disease” and NOT submit to a gluten challenge nor a biopsy, because as of now, CD is not on any “official” record, yet I’m loads healthier on a g.f. diet.

Probably the most interesting thing to me to learn from that appointment is that my palpitations are actually called PVCs, which are essentially extra heartbeats.  He said that it is very common in patients with celiac disease, and in those who are not faithful to a g.f. diet (or undiagnosed), it can get out of control, with patients placed in ICU with a heart that’s racing out of control.  He also said that he has diagnosed several patients with celiac disease after treating them for PVCs.  He mentioned that PVCs in celiacs are a good indication that they’ve gotten ahold of some gluten.  That would fully explain why I tend to have multiple episodes of PVCs each day for 2-3 days in a row, then they disappear for several weeks.  I must be getting gluten somewhere, and I can use any PVC occurrence to help me detect the source!

Also of interest is — he did agree that my blood pressure was quite low — at his office (and people typically test higher in a doctor’s office than they do at home/rest, due to the stress of just being there), it was 110/60.  He suggested that, especially with my history of fatigue and not feeling refreshed in the morning after a good night’s sleep, to drink an electrolyte-containing drink in the morning.  It will raise my blood pressure 5 points or so, which will make me feel more energetic.   Plus, the electrolytes will enable me to better-absorb water throughout the day!  I drink a ton of water, but there are often times when I will nearly black out upon rising from sitting or lying, and that is usually from low blood pressure + dehydration.

Things that need further investigation are that it appears that I also have mitral valve prolapse and quite possibly Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, since there are “weird electrical things going on in the bottom of [my] heart.”  Both of those things are things to keep an eye on, which the cardiologist plans on doing, but are not of immediate concern.  And, importantly to me, nothing that I have or even potentially have requires medication.

I’m going to have an echocardiogram in a couple of weeks (a heart ultrasound), and he wants me to wear a 30-day event monitor (to be hooked up, also in a couple of weeks).  The event monitor is cool;  when I feel something weird, I press a button and it remotely faxes an ECG to the doctor’s office.  Alternately, if anything weird happens with my heart, it will beep at me, and I press a button to fax…

It’s not like I’m happy that there’s something “weird” going on with my heart.  But, I’m thrilled that the cardiologist took me seriously; it is so demoralizing to be treated like a twit and/or a hypochondriac by a doctor.  And, I’m happy that it appears that, whatever’s going on, it’s benign (or very nearly so).  And, I’m very happy that whatever the case is, no medication is necessary.  🙂

All in all, good news.

The appointment for Fiala??  Not so stellar, but more on that later.

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on July 10, 2009, in Medical Stuff. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. wow! i’m not excote about the heart problems but i’m thrilled you got confirmation and acknowledgment!! i didn;t know about the heart thing but it certainly happen to me to a lesser degree – i can totally see how gluten could be that trigger in m. hmmm.. interesting!

    i want to hear about the baby’s appt too… i’m sorry it didn;t go well.

  2. My dad–who I suspect I got my celiac disease from since there’s a strong Irish heritage there–had those extra heartbeats all the time! That’s very interesting. My brother had mitral valve prolapse, as did my mom. I was misdiagnosed with it when I was 14. Later, better ultrasounds showed I didn’t have it.

    I’m glad you have a doctor who takes you seriously and talks to you–those are rare!

    • Oh, I forgot to ask–did he suggest a particular electroyte drink? I also have chronic low blood pressure; even when I’m pregnant it only ever gets up to 120/over something. Maybe instead of coffee I need to drink electrolytes.

      • He suggested 32 oz of G2, since it is mostly sweetened w/ sucralose, so it’s not like you’re downing a ton of corn syrup. However, I’m going to look up recipes to see if I can make my own mix w/ granulated fructose and/or honey. I’ll post at least a link if I find a good one!

        That’s the highest my BP ever gets, too, even when I’m pregnant.

  3. Supermum had really low blood pressure and low energy after dudelet and little elf – she started taking a liquid iron supplement which helped a lot. This sounds a rather tougher call, though. I do admire your positivism! And am happy that your experience with the array of consultants involved is so constructive – I know the medical profession and you have had your differences 🙂

    Am awaiting news about, Fiala, though.

  4. Sorry to hear about this, but glad you were taken seriously on are on the road to figuring out what is wrong. Best wishes to you and I hope it isn’t too serious.

    I’ll email you privately about my dad having WPW.

  5. PolkaDotMommy

    So glad you have a Doc that listens! I’m ready to pull my hair out with mine!!!!

    I’m going to try the electrolyte beverage in the am as well… I also have very low BP and feel supreme am fatigue/dizziness.

    We just found an all natural gaterade type of drink at Whole Foods, when I get home I’ll get you the name and ingredients.

    Can’t wait to hear about Fiala appt though it doesn’t sound like a positive visit!!!

  6. Okay… here’s the natural electrolyte drink info-

    Recharge made by R.W. Knudsen $1.00 for 32oz). Ingredients: filtered water, white grape and apple juice concentrate, herbal tea (hibiscus), natural flavor, natural orange extract, sea salt.

    It says 50% juice, but doesn’t state amounts of other ingredients.

    Calories (8oz) 70, sodium 20mg, potassium 100mg, total carb 18g, sugars 17g

    • Thank you, Jamie! I have seen Recharge on the shelves at the store. In fact, there’s one flavor that’s on clearance at the store I’ll be shopping at tonight, so I think I’ll pick some up!!

      After surfing the net for Web for recipes, and coming up with a ton (some with conflicting info!!), I plan on making my own with crystalline fructose, no-salt alternative, sea salt, baking soda, and granulated ascorbic acid. I have to pick up a few ingredients tonight, and I’ll post the recipe when I have it down!!

  7. Just wanted to add that I have MVP too. Found a neat site online which recommended Vitamin D to add in helping that condition. Not sure if that’s a supplement you can take, but it sure does work for me.

    Lessening stress is key too. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen, eh?!!

    Hugs to you, girlfriend. 🙂

    • Hi, Melissa! You’re always a breath of fresh air… garden breezes and wooden front porches… 🙂 Yes, I was so thrilled that my new DO recommended that I up my Vit D (to 800 IU, ILO the USDA recommended 400 IU) to help with my heart. Calcium, too. It made me want to hug her. A doctor, encountering a health issue, saying, “Up your supplements!” Imagine. 🙂

  8. Hi karen
    been livin’ w/ heart problems for 43 years now. irregular heart beats are more prominent during pregnancy but any dork that doesn’t take it seriously should be..um.. reprimanded. interesting on the vitamin D and calcium…. a friends child is in a study for this exact thing.

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