How meditation slowed a racing heart

A simple meditation exercise brought an end to one frightening experience with tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) that lasted six hours. Maddy recalls it vividly.

In August last year I had the scary experience of the sudden onset of rapid and uneven breathing – it came after having a couple of stiff brandies and a very hot curry, followed by a very cold soft drink.

Twenty minutes after it started I contacted Healthline for advice and was asked for my symptoms and my address. The nurse asked, "Will we call the ambulance or will you?" I asked her to do so as I live alone, remotely, and run a smallholding with a few sheep.

I knew the sheep were on the drive so needed to struggle outside in the dark to move them, in order for the ambulance to get a clear run up the steep track.

By the time the ambulance arrived half-an-hour later, I was in physical distress: very blue around the mouth and nose, but the ambo officer reassured me, and did the cardio tests to indicate that it was probably an atrial fibrillation event. The usual one-and-a-half hour drive to Whanganui Hospital took three hours due to several stops to check my blood pressure and to administer aspirin and oxygen.

By the time I got to hospital, four hours had lapsed from the onset of the tachycardia. My blood pressure had dropped considerably and was being monitored every five minutes, but wasn't changing. That meant the usual medical treatment wasn't possible until a qualified doctor came in the next morning.

By 4am – six hours since the start of the tachycardia – and feeling desperate for sleep, I asked the A&E registrar doctor if I could try meditation. He wasn't too happy about that, but as he was monitoring my blood pressure so frequently he agreed to my doing so "for a short time"... 

I did a simple meditation involving the silent mantra – “Sa Ta" on the in-breath and "Na Ma" on the out-breath. After 12 minutes the rhythm of my heart corrected itself.

The registrar and nursing staff were surprised but pleased with the outcome. Before being put in a recovery bed attached to a monitor I thanked them for their care, but the registrar commented, "Congratulations on sorting that out; we did nothing.” He also decided he might try meditation for his work stress issues!

I have not had to go on medication, but do keep up the visualisation of having a healthy heart and continue to do my simple regular meditation.

I have also reduced my alcohol consumption considerably; put less chilli in my curries and don't drink very cold soft drinks. Since then I haven't had another event – I refuse to call it a condition yet, or until it happens again, which will be hopefully never! Lifestyle changes are so important to alleviate this condition.

 

Shared September 2016

Please note: the views and opinions of the storyteller and related comments may not necessarily reflect those of the Heart Foundation NZ.

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