A year go, on my fledging blog, I wrote about palpitations and what I did to manage them. I notice that in the SCAD user group (spontaneous coronary artery dissection) lots of people are asking about how to cope so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in the last twelve months.
- My SCAD is now four years behind me, so every day that goes by, I feel safer. I know that PACS come and go and I don’t pay them the same attention. They are my new normal and to some extent, I’ve accepted this.
- I’ve read a lot about palpitations and it seems that they are very common and according to my GP and specialist, nothing to worry about. Lots of people without heart problems have them, it’s just that us SCADsters are hyper aware of anything to do with our heart.
- Occasionally I do panic a bit. When this happens, I aim to distract myself. Sadly at bedtime, this is hard to do, as your thoughts are magnified and you can over focus on your heartbeat. I have a pile of magazines by my bed to flick through – easier than trying to concentrate on my book.
- I eat to keep my blood sugar stable, as dips seem to set them off – especially getting hungry and missing a meal. This means avoiding simple carbs: white bread, cakes, pastries, alcohol, chocolate, pasta which cause a sharp rise in blood sugar followed by a crash. I’m no saint and love all these things, but keep them for occasions, and not for every day.
- I love chocolate, so have a strip of 85% cocoa Green & Blacks right after my evening meal so there is protein in my stomach too.
- I aim to have protein, complex carbs and good fats at every meal.
- Planning my menus each week avoids relying on a quick fix carb heavy meal.
- I exercise to raise my heart beat – Zumba and regular walking for a few miles at a time. I couldn’t maintain the running because it aggravated the PACS.
- I practice Yoga to help with relaxation.
- I have a set bedtime relaxation routine which includes reading for an hour before sleep.
- I take comfort in knowing that palpitations are common at menopause, so now I’m almost 54, it can’t be forever!
- Sally Bee is my role model – she’s a SCADster and looks fabulously healthy on ITV’s Lorraine.
- Finally, I’m not letting it rule my life. In the last year I’ve flown long haul, had food poisoning (was terrified that vomiting would kill me) and agreed to be chairman of a registered charity which will involve public speaking.
If you are getting palpitations for the first time, then of course check with your GP, but once you’ve been checked over and told you just have to get on with it, then maybe the above will help.