I am here to share my experience with supraventricular tachycardia and symptoms associated with it. I hope my story answers few of your questions about this condition and brings you confidence that change can happen.
I have experienced my first SVT episode in my mid 40s. It all started by having quite frequent palpitations. Initially, I didn’t pay much attention to them until one day when I had a full blown up attack that lasted for 20 minutes. Since then I have managed to terminate all my episodes within the first few minutes using different techniques.
The beginning of my SVT journey
It all started with a bite of chocolate.
A few years ago, I was sitting on the passenger seat of my car, eating a chocolate bar.
It was 3pm, and my husband and I were returning home from a funeral.
I was just savoring a delicious bite of my chocolate when…,BANG, my heart started pounding like it wanted to jump out of my chest.
It was so powerful that the air whooshed out of my lungs, my vision faded, I couldn’t talk, and everything around me seemed to recede into the distance. I couldn’t even move or ask for help.
I don’t know how long I stayed like that, – probably several seconds -, but when I regained my vision, my anxiety went through the roof. I quickly rolled down the car window and gasped for air, like a fish out of water.
At first, I thought what had happened to me was the result of dehydration, stress and lack of food (as I hadn’t eaten anything the entire day, except the chocolate). At the time, I knew nothing about SVT .
After that episode, I continued my life as though nothing had happened. During the following months, I started experiencing random palpitations whenever I walked, laid down in bed on my left side, or when I was tired. Since that day in the car, I struggled a lot trying to overcome those symptoms. There were nights when my ectopics kept me awake until 3am.
The journey continues…
On a Saturday night, after I had eaten a chocolate and a Movenpick ice-cream (chocolate, of course), I was sitting at my desk writing an email when my heart started to beat fast. Being used to all kinds of flip-flops and flutters, I thought it was one of those occasional palpitations, which always went away by themselves.
I took a deep breath. I changed my position. I did what I usually did to get my heart back to normal, but it kept racing fast no matter what I tried. I stood up and started walking around. My husband asked,
“Are you okay?”
“It’s one of those palpitations. I am trying to get rid of it, but it seems to be lasting longer than usual.”
In the beginning, I didn’t have anxiety or panic. I was so focused on trying to stop my crazy heart, and I didn’t think it might be something more serious than my usual ectopics. After I had exhausted all that I could do, without any results, I became worried. The palpitations were so strong that they started to hurt me. My husband spoke again,
I took his hand and put it on my chest. He could feel the way my heart was trying to escape through my t-shirt.
“What’s that?”- he asked.
“I don’t know. It’s my heart,” I replied.
I went outside to get some fresh air. I became tired, out of breath, and I felt like I was going to faint. I sat on a chair.
“Call the ambulance. I don’t know if my heart is going to stop soon or not, but something is not right.”
It was the first time I had ever called an ambulance
The dispatcher lady from the emergency department asked my husband through the phone to count my pulse. I saw the expression of concern on his face when he could not count as fast as my heart beat.
The ambulance arrived in ten minutes, which felt like a very long time. My heart was still racing. They hooked me up to an EKG machine, and the result puzzled them. They didn’t see anything wrong, except a high heart rate of 169 per minute.
Then, without any intervention, as suddenly as it had started, my heart settled to 120 beats per minute. I was shaking, shocked by what had happened.
The paramedic convinced me to go to the hospital to have some tests done and be observed for several hours.
It was St. Patrick’s Day. They were very busy with intoxicated people, and they didn’t have any rooms available. I was wheeled in and placed into a bed in a consultation room.
A nurse inserted a catheter into my vein, took some blood tests to rule out a thyroid issue, and attached EKG leads to my chest, according to the doctor’s request. All the wires, the blood monitor cuffs, and the pulse oximeter were connected to the main monitor.
The doctor said that it seemed to be a problem with the electrical circuit of my heart, which could be fixed with a surgery called ablation.
After a while, I was moved into a room with a single bed. The nurse showed me where the emergency call button was in case I needed to alert her, and she left.
I had time to meditate on my situation. I knew I had to change something in my life, and I needed to change it soon.
I asked to be discharged a few hours later as my heart rate normalised down to 90 beats per minute.
I left the hospital with a primary diagnosis of arrhythmia (SVT), a referral to be seen in the cardiology clinic, and the doctor’s advice to avoid caffeine.
That night, when I departed the hospital on my own two feet, I decided that I would not let this happen again.
I knew that I wanted to live my life to its fullest, and I wouldn’t let this condition interfere with it. I wanted to take things into my own hands and take back my health.
I know coffee induced my palpitations, but chocolate is more frustrating, because it didn’t always have the same results for me. I have found that when I eat it on an empty stomach, it causes me SVT, as it did in both my episodes.
I took many other steps down the road to freedom from SVT, but the decision to stop eating chocolate was my cornerstone. It indicated the beginning of my journey, the very moment when my health transformation started.
As I am writing this, I have hugely reduced some of the symptoms associated with my condition, such as ectopics and anxiety. I am still on the path of healing my SVT gentle, with no surgery or permanent pharmaceutical drugs.
If you want to discover the steps I am taking on the path to healing my SVT, I invite you to read my other blog posts.
The founder of Stop SVT