In February 2022 after a couple months off due to cold weather, I resumed my usual 10 interval sprints up a hill on my street. I assumed I would just pick up where I left off, but after the 2nd sprint I suddenly felt like I was about to pass out and had to lay down on the ground for a minute to recover. I took it easy on the rest of the 8 trips up the hill and had no chest discomfort or palpitations. There was no significant family history of heart disease, and I had been exercising my heart rate above 160 for many years.
Three more similar episodes in the next 3 months got me a full evaluation at Duke Cardiology including a 0 CT calcium score and a negative stress echocardiogram test showing no evidence of cardiovascular disease. A Holter monitor showed benign runs of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and very short bursts of ventricular tachycardia (VTach) without life threatening arrhythmias. My next stop was the cardiac electrophysiologist self-described as an electrician of the heart.
By this time, I was noticing daily bouts of palpitations associated with mild nausea where I could feel my pulse racing at twice the normal speed. A repeat Holter monitor showed one episode of life-threatening VTach which got me a prescription for a beta blocker. Never having taken any drugs other than antibiotics before, it was an unusual experience. My resting heart rate immediately dropped from 60 to 50, my chronically cold hands and feet got warmer, and my wife noted that my personality was flat.
In the meantime, I embarked on a journey of self-healing exploring every possible natural option beginning with learning to increase my heart rate variability using the Inner Balance Coherence Sensor and App from HeartMath which has been shown to decrease arrhythmias. Cardiac herbs Hawthorn and Arjuna were added to my daily supplements along with homeopathic Digitalis and Aurum Arsenicum as recommended in homeopath Joette Calabrese’s blog My Dad and the Dead Cardiologists.
In September, after a month on the beta blocker I stopped it in preparation for a repeat stress test which was again negative getting my heart rate up to 155 on the treadmill without symptoms. I never went back on the drug, but did add Potassium Gluconate 600 mg daily inspired by the Adrenal Cocktail recipe from the Root Cause Protocol. In the past 2 months I have had only 4 episodes of palpitations, so I repeated a third Holter monitor showing no VTach to confirm the improvement for my skeptical cardiologist.
Since the cause of my arrhythmia is still unknown and one of my passions in my coaching practice is to explore the symbolic roots of illness, the most significant correlation I have discovered is related to a possible past life connection to Jesuit priest/scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. My heart issues began when I was reading his biography Spirit of Fire and discovered that he had his first heart attack at 66, my age when the presyncopal episodes started in February.
As described in my Someday … Fire blog, Teilhard experienced extreme censorship by the Catholic church for decades due to his heretical books which remained unpublished until after his death in 1955. At the time my heart symptoms began I was in the midst of an extended period of censorship on Facebook, Medium and Twitter culminating in my 2nd banned TEDx talk. Part of my healing process may have been letting go of the anger connected to my identification with Teilhard.
My initial experience with holistic healing for heart arrhythmias came 11 years ago when I encountered a coaching client with SVT who was looking for alternatives to cardiac ablation and drugs. In listening to his history, it became clear that there were possible emotional triggers related to his heart not really being in his job and to concerns about his son’s depression. We did EFT tapping on those issues with significant emotional release of related sadness during the first coaching session.
At the 2nd session he reported having had a powerful healing dream of going through a volcano on a hero’s journey to meet his inner child with praying monks. It was an experience of self-soothing and self-actualization which was followed by an authentic conversation with his son leading to a breakthrough in that important relationship. He also started going with the flow at work leading him in a more spiritual direction. His SVT has only recurred rarely in the past decade and is manageable without drugs.
In his book The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer emphasizes the importance of keeping your heart chakra open no matter what and to focus on gratitude. During my daily HeartMath sessions I do slow deep breathing while repeating these simple mantras to increase my heart coherence: Open heart, Grateful heart, Joyful heart, Freedom Heart. If you would like to learn more about these holistic approaches, I offer free 20-minute phone coaching consults to assess the emotional state of your heart.
I will also be addressing the relationship between grief and the heart chakra in the Transforming Symptoms of the Lower 4 Chakras in Physical Illnesses post conference intensive that I will be teaching in Baltimore at the ACEP conference on 6/5/23. For a more in-depth exploration of these issues I will be offering my annual Tapping into Health course at Duke Integrative Medicine on Thursdays in May for the 6th time, but it will be the first time in a hybrid format with both in-person and Zoom options.