Holiday Heart...sounds like the title of a sweet romance, doesn't it? Well, not exactly.
We just got back from eight days on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I posted some pictures last week. We had a great time. The weather was hot. We only had a couple mornings with some rain. I walked the beach every day (with my new hat to protect me.) We ate out occasionally, cooked at the camper more often, drank wine every day. Relaxed and just had a great time.
Our last full day there was the Tuesday before Memorial Day. The night before, Monday night, I noticed my heart racing. I could feel it in my chest. I figured I'd had too much sun. I relaxed that evening, but when I laid down to go to bed, my heart was pounding so hard, I couldn't sleep. I started to get worried. Googling "rapid heartbeat" in the middle of the night reassured me that I didn't have any other symptoms of heart problems like shortness of breath, dizziness, or loss of consciousness, so I sat up most of the night, hoping it would get better. It didn't.
So in the morning, my hubby drove me the 25 miles to the nearest urgent care facility. Two seconds after they hooked me up to the EKG machine, people were running around like crazy, giving me aspirin and putting in an IV. My first thought was, "Shit!" I was in "a-fib" - atrial fibrillation, where the top part of the heart gets out of rhythm, beating too fast and irregular. I was asked often if I'd had a lot of alcohol. Well, yeah. I'm on vacation...
Who knew you could have too much sun and too much wine??
Dehydration can bring about a-fib. It wasn't so much the sun and the wine as no water. I was stupid and didn't stay hydrated. Apparently it happens so often in that area, the doctor's have a term for it. Holiday Heart.
I spent my last day of vacation in the ER, nine hours, four bags of fluid, and a drip of meds to bring down my heart rate. Luckily, my heart flipped back to regular rhythm on its own, otherwise I would have needed a procedure called a cardioversion - a shock to the heart to zap it back in line.
I'm following up with a cardiologist at home. And I learned my lesson. I'm drinking lots of water and much less wine. I still hope to get to the beach again before too long. I'll just be walking with a bottle of water as well as my hat.
Take a lesson from my experience. Stay hydrated. As sweet as it sounds, you don't want a case of Holiday Heart.