I made the trek up to Duke Hospital of Raleigh on Tuesday for a follow-up with my cardiologist. The doc says they’ve reviewed my medical charts and believe a new diagnosis is in order: Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia.
IST is a rare cardiac arrhythmia under the SVT category that disproportionately affects women. Doctors do not know what causes it, but theories suggest it may be the result of an abnormal sinus node structure, dysautonomia, or a disturbance to the autonomic nervous system. Research is currently ongoing.
Though IST isn’t caused by an electrical dysfunction like SVT, the symptoms are the same. So the diagnosis explains everything I’ve been dealing with over the last year.
The good news is that the condition is considered benign, and surgery isn’t necessary. Plus, I don’t have to make the drive back to Raleigh for a whole year! Praise Jesus! Brave face or not, surgery scares me to death.
The tachycardia seems to be improving as time passes. My average resting heart rate fluctuates between 70 and 90, and I’m experiencing fewer attacks.
I wish it was all good news, but it never is, is it? Two weeks ago, I had an attack that shot my resting heart rate up to 200. Brandon rushed me to the hospital, where we sat in the parking lot monitoring my heart rate on his Apple Watch. After I stopped feeling faint and my beats per minute dropped to about 150, we headed back home.
This episode concerned the doc, as at my age, my heart rate shouldn’t get above 180. She advised me to start wearing an Apple Watch with the ECG app. If my heart rate gets above 180 again, I need to email her a copy of the ECG report. Depending on what she sees, more testing may be needed – and I might receive a new diagnosis. I pray it doesn’t come to that.
Besides wearing the watch, I was advised to do my best to avoid sick people. COVID is known to cause inflammation and could potentially worsen my symptoms.
We discussed whether the vaccine is to blame, but the doctor says it’s more likely it irritated an existing condition. That makes sense, as I’ve been dealing with this since I was 18 – albeit on a much smaller scale.
Brandon is such a sweetheart. I called him as soon as I got out of my appointment, and before we were off the phone, he had a new Apple Watch on the way.
Other than the watch, the doc suggested a few lifestyle changes. She wants me to cut my sugar intake, drink a lot more water, monitor my B12 deficiency, and start practicing yoga. Of course, all of that is on top of the changes I’ve already made – and I still have to carry calcium blockers everywhere I go.
Though the bit about how high my heart rate got a couple of weeks ago and the part about COVID stresses me, I’m still feeling good about all of this – lucky even. It could be so much worse. Thank God it’s not.