Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Heart Pain

I don't know how else to describe it other than heart pain. My cardiologist said it is like a headache, but just in the heart, a heartache. I can't really remember the first heart pain I had, I remember waking in the night with my heart hurting and wondering if I was having a heart attack. It was really scary, but after a few minutes it subsided. It was a long time before I had another one, then I started having them during the day, on the way to work and I would be so scared, should I pull over, should I call 911, I didn't know what to do, then it would be gone. The heart pains started coming more often and increasing in intensity. It was early one morning in 2007 that my husband had had enough, he gave me a blessing and took me to the emergency room. I was mad because I was missing my daughter's gymnastics meet while I sat for hours in an emergency room. The emergency room was crowded that morning and I was left in the hallway with a few other patients while I waited for the test results. All that time, money and missing the meet had me really upset, but then hearing the doctor tell me everything was "fine" just took me over the edge. He encouraged me to see my regular doctor for more tests. I was just mad and didn't want to do any more tests, but my husband insisted. I got another blessing and was assured the doctors would find what was wrong. It was a few days later after having a halter for a 24 hour period and a slight murmur showing up on it that they did a sonogram on my heart. The first thing out of the technician's mouth was "there it is." They could clearly see I had a Mitral Valve Prolapse. This is where one of the valves in the heart doesn't close properly and blood can flow back into it. I found out there are quite a few people in the country with a MVP and it never affects them at all, a small number of people have symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations, panic attacks, anxiety, fatigue, migraines and more. My doctors wanted to take me off all stimulants, but I had only one vice, chocolate, and yes they took that away (I still have some now and then, who can live without chocolate). My mom sent me some websites on Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome where the above symptoms have become a real problem for some people. These websites had valuable information for me. I have frequent heart pain, but have noticed that it is especially bad closer to my period (something to do with the hormones), when I am stressed and, unfortunately, if I have had too much chocolate. MVP Syndrome has a strong hereditary tendency and is more prone to be passed on to daughters. My mom has had symptoms as well as several of my sisters. So the cardiologist asked me what I was going to do if I had these symptoms off and on and if this was something I could live with. For me it was just huge knowing what it was, knowing that I wasn't having a heart attack. It's just heart pain. In all my reading, I learned that the best things to do are eliminate caffeine and sugar, drink a lot of water, reduce stress and do a minium of 30 minutes of exercise a day five days a week (yoga and breathing exercises are especially good). One of the biggest complaints of MVP is fatigue and on one of the websites I read this: "Fatigue begets more fatigue, the less you do, the less you feel like doing. The cause of the fatigue may relate to blood volume changes noted with exercise, to a high resting heart rate, or to other physiological factors." It is hard to convince yourself to get up and exercise when you are so tired, but it is the best thing for the MVP. Stress is my number one factor in my heart pain and I'm still not very good at reducing the stress (this is where my co-dependency problem comes in, I'll save that story for another day). Some days the heart pain can be so much that I feel like I can hardly breathe and I have to close my eyes and tell myself to breathe, just breathe and remember, it is just a heartache.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Renae! I was diagnosed with Grade 4 Mitral Valve Prolapse (heart murmur) 4 years ago, so I know some of what you are going through. Some of the symptoms are different, but the fatigue is a big part of it since the blood doesn't fully oxygenate. It's part of what lead to my push to be healthier, you are doing great in finding out all you can about it...good job & good luck!!

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