The mental side of AFIB, Ectopic heartbeats, and arrhythmia
Fear, anxiety, and panic attacks are real.
I love my cardiologist. He keeps my heart in rhythm. He is the fixer. His knowledge of my heart and heart rhythm keeps me going. He has insight into what type of medicine will keep me in rhythm.
He has the tools of the trade.
The echocardiogram is also known as ultrasound and it scans the heart and also creates an image of the heart. It looks at heart chambers, movement of the heart, and also the heart valves.
He uses his electrocardiogram to record the electrical signals inside my heart. The stethoscope is used to listen to my heart. Listening for any heart murmurs or such.
The treadmill to see how my heart reacts “under stress”. His hands to feel how my heartbeats. The ankle-brachial test (ABI) a fancy name to see how well your blood is flowing. It is used to check for peripheral artery disease(PAD).
Not to mention everything going on inside his head. The PR interval, QRS complex, QT interval, or lack of a P wave only to mention a few on the EKG. Then the electrocardiogram showing the enlargement of the right arteria, leaky valves, and thickness of the ventricle wall.
Must I mention? Chest x-rays, Angiogram, MRI of the heart, Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), and holer monitor.
Ohh how I think back with nostalgia to remember that all these were so easy and stress-free?
The truth is, I did not enjoy all of these tests!
So he has all the knowledge and tools to do his job.
But why do I still get anxiety attacks? The cardiologist said I’m fine!
It’s not the heart.
Your heart can be 100%, but if your thoughts are going in circles it will feel like your heart is in trouble.
I know there are those strong ones out there that never get afraid of dying or their heart stopping. No, I’m talking to the “normal ones” Like me who hear the doctor saying you're fine but you think you are going to die!
Anxiety and panic attacks galore! So many times it’s not your heart. It’s your thoughts that keep you afraid and preventing you from living a full life.
It’s not his job!
For many years I thought that it’s the job of my cardiologist to calm my anxious thoughts. He did, in his eyes. He said your heart is in rhythm and reasonably normal, you should go on with your life.
I was fine for a while. But I was hyper-sensitive to my heart. I felt my heart beating, what about my breathing? Thinking worrying stressing! But my heart is fine!
What did I want? For my cardiologist to sit with me for an hour every day assuring me that I’m going to be fine? Yes, sort of.
But it's not his job!
Have you ever seen a psychologist or psychiatrist? The question from an ER doctor after one of my serious panic attacks.
I was 23. What the heck will a psychologist do for me?
The doctor explained to me that many heart patients see a psychologist or psychiatrist after a traumatic heart event. We get confronted with our immortality. And I think the younger you are the more intense feeling of fear you experience.
It’s not a silver bullet. There’s no instant cure for anxiety and panic attacks according to me, but there is help available.
The work starts here.
By walking into the office of a psychologist or psychiatrist you are not giving the problem of anxiety to him or her.
It also does not mean you do not believe in God and that he cannot help you.
You are learning to cope with fear, anxiety, and panic attacks. They can help you. They have helped me.
It’s a slow process but it can give you back your life!