23 May 2013

I have a 40 year old heart in a 20 year old body.

Fact One: You're totally safe from being unhealthy if you avoid drinking and smoking.
Fact Two: Especially if you're 21. Young people are always the healthiest.
Fact Three: Nobody has ever had a heart problem unless they were overweight.

Look at me! I'm the picture of health!

Juuuust kidding.
Up until recently, I kind of believed those three sentences up there...
When I was engaged, all that wedding stress really took a toll on my ticker, and because I am blessed to work in a hospital where I can get my vital signs checked/get medical advice from professionals any time I need it...I was able to find out that I run tachy. Which is a nurse-y way of saying my heart rate is way too high.

 A normal heart rate is 60-90. Here it shows that I was 116. I saw my heart rate get up to 120 this day.
It kind of freaked me out, but not enough to do anything about it, because apparently weddings are more important than hearts.

Fast forward to the other day, and first day since then I have had my vitals taken.
In physiology lab we were testing each others vital signs before and after activity to note how they changed. I knew mine was going to be high because my chest didn't feel good.

Everyone before me had a normal pulse and heart rhythm.
Then they get to me and were like "Um. Yours looks weird. Why does yours look weird? Your pulse is 127. Maybe if you relaxed it would be normal." Okay great. 127. Wonderful.

THEN I had to do physical activity, and one of the boys in our lab group made it his personal mission to get my heart rate as high as possible. It worked. When I sat down again my whole body was being rocked by what felt like the slamming of my heart against my ribcage. At that moment you could look at my chest and see my heart pounding through my shirt. My pulse was 250. (Normal pulse for during activity, by the way, is about 220 minus your age, or your regular heart rate doubled.)

Soon after, my heart rate relaxed back down (ha! to like 120) but I was still scared, and I decided to get my heart checked with professional equipment the next day. By the grace of God the friendliest and most knowledgeable monitor tech was on duty that day. She is the heart whisperer. When I told her all about my problem,  she got me a telemetry box to hook up to my own chest (which was a weird experience...also, I'll never inwardly roll my eyes when my patients tell me that those things are uncomfortable ever again) and she assessed my heart rhythm.

At rest, I was 81 and I was super happy with this number. She wasn't so impressed.
Then she had me walk around, and the minute I stood up I was at 118. Not cool.

her: "you don't smoke?"
me: "no."
her: "you don't drink?"
me: "no."
her: "how old are you??"
me: "21."
her: "do you drink coffee?"
me: "no."
her: "let me ask you this, do you have an anxiety problem?"
me: "yeah.."

I also confessed to her that I eat wayyyy too much fast food (cough! like every other night...)
And I don't think I need to exercise because I walk so much at work.
And I don't even take a multivitamin.
She told me that my heart was weak, and she had the same problem. When she was 20 years old she had a heart attack. A heart attack. At twenty. years. old. She warned me not to let it get to that point.

So here's the plan!
I put myself on the most recommended cardiac diet there is.
It has menu plans but also tips on how to just wing it from day to day.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

I was so so so so so so so upset that I couldn't have greasy food anymore (it's my favorite) or Pepsi (my biggest weakness) but after reading the menu plans I don't think it will be so bad
It's all stuff I like. Even Matthew says it sounds good.
Normal food. Normal quantities.
Just lower fat, lower sodium, tons of fiber, and no caffeine.

ALSO, I have to start working out like cardio is my second job.
Obviously, I can't over-do it though...that part will be tricky.

Soooo just a warning, I'm probably going to start a heart series where I track my vital signs from week to week and keep track of food I'm eating/exercises I'm doing. That is all.


Brittany said...

Wow that is kinda scary! Luckily you have access to getting checked out and you now have a plan to tackle it.

Lindsay said...

That is SO scary. I can't believe your heart rate climbed to 250! Good luck controlling your diet and starting to exercise. My brother has tachycardia as well and has to be careful not to be too intense during sports, which is hard for him. I'm glad you caught it early!

karajean said...

Yikes! What a blessing that you work in a hospital and were able to get everything checked out. Good luck from here on out! It's hard to change your diet but it's nice that your hubby is willing to do it with you!

Alynne Leigh said...

I'm so glad you caught it before it became an even harder problem to deal with!

I feel you with the anxiety. You're so lucky to work in a hospital, where there's always someone to look after you when you need it. (:


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