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Supra Ventricular Tachycardia, Ever heard of such a thing? by Siew Chee Meng

Wish I haven't. It was December 2006. It was just 11 km to the end of my usual Sunday Bike ride in Ulu Langat. A 3 km non-stop hill climb stood in the way. I attacked the last 2 km of the climb with unusual fervor that faithful day. My heart beat monitor was screaming away at 195bpm, that I was way above my allotted rate, of 170 bpm. The number 220 minus my age 50 equals 170bpm, my maximum bpm.

On top of the hill I stop to rest but my heart beat was 215bpm for the next 5 mins . I started to feel real bad. The heart beat went back down to 140bpm just in time to avoid a black out. It was downhill the rest of the way, so it was OK.

Got back home at 1 pm and slept till 4pm when I woke up to a 210 bpm heart, lying down. It went on for half an hour before it went away. Felt really bad.

Went to Pantai Hospital Cheras to see their heart physician. He did a ECG and found nothing amiss. Then he prescript some Beta- Blockers to control the heart rate, 300mg should I have any attack. That's it.

After that initial high heart rate attack, I went on to have a few more frightening attacks. Any exertions or exercise was out of the question. I managed to wrangled my way into the Institut Jantun Negara to see Dr. Sanjiv Joshi. He did all the blood tests, ECG, ultrasound, and extended ECG monitoring, which you have to attach to you chest at the correct points during an attack.

Came March 2007, my appointment with the Doc for the good news. I have a heart condition named Supra Ventricular Tachycardia. I believe Yuan Yue Fang our national walker also had the same condition. It means I have one or more extra nerves controlling the heartbeat. Problem is which nerve is the heart going to beat to? So it ended up with the heart beating to the normal signal plus the loopback signals from the other nerves or missing 2 beats due to conficting and clashing signals. Then the beat goes double fast to make-up for the missed beat. You would really wish you would never have such a condition. It's a shit feeling man, I can tell you that!

I was put on daily 40mg Beta Blockers. All my activities and movement have to be at half speed as not to trigger an attack. Even so the attacks kept on coming at an increasing frequency. I was admitted to IJN 5 times in emergency conditions where they inject you with stuff to bring the heart beat down. They have to inject 3 times consecutively in increasing double dosages everytime in order to stop the high rate.

It feels like going to Hell 3 times in a space of 5 mins. Trust me, Praying don't help. Accept your fate, grit your teeth and bearing with it until you black-out from the vicegrip-like final hammer blow of the 3rd mega shot makes it easier.

The final episode came on the 14th July '07. I had 3 attacks within 24hrs. My body just cannot handle emergency heart rate suppressants anymore.

They scheduled me for a heart operation to cut away the extra nerves at 6am the next morning. The guy who was going to cut me up was Dr. Azlan Hussin. Relived! Why? Dr. Azlan is one of the regular cyclist in Ulu Langat. Member lah.

He is going to make a little cut in the groin area and tread all the control wires and sensors all the way to the heart to do the op. That way, I will have much less trauma and get out sooner. He burned away 3 nerves. Anyway I felt the heat 3 times. I was conscious all the while during the whole procedure.

Dr. Azlan Hussin does a few hundred of these operations a year, plus installing pacemakers and other stuff.

I got out 2 days later. It's 3 months now that I'm finishing this article and I am still feeling the missing beats regularly, although it is getting less frequent. I still have to take things. I'm off all medications.

The Doctors could not tell me how I got this heart condition. But I can easily guess it. Stress at work, Anxiety, Lots of Instant Coffee, Work Pressure, Insufficient rest, and something I hate to mention, cigarettes, and a host of other modern age stuff that we take for normal. It is not normal. I am given another chance to relive life again. I still can't run without the heart going funny, even real slow.I don't know when will I be able to run normal again. I don't have the 210bpm attacks any more but there is a possibility it can come back. Documented, period. I pray for deliverance.

Siew Chee Meng


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