heart trace

Heart failure and other things blog 22 – heart traces



We’re into mid-July and I’ve only just received an appointment for the echocardiogram; fortunately it’s for next week so I might get some answers about the current state of heart function soon. In the meantime things went wrong again for me and I was taking more and more of the diuretics to compensate for fluid build-up. The heatwave was having an effect. According to what I was told, a great many people who have heart failure and kidney trouble are struggling with the heat.


The heart nurse team, who are my first point of contact, are brilliant. Alarmed by how much diuretic I was having to take, and the bad effects on my kidneys – since my kidney function dropped further to 26 – they got hold of the consultant to ask for advice.


The consultant was surprised by how much my condition had changed from 13th June to 28th June, and asked me to send a remote reading from the pacemaker to the pacing team. Next day I had a phone call from them urging me to attend that day – a pacemaker setting was unsafe. ‘It could be dangerous for you,’ I was told, which sent my adrenalin level soaring. My son had to drop what he was doing and drive me to Bristol. Apparently the alteration to the previous setting, making the pacemaker more efficient, also made it more sensitive. Sometimes that does happen, I was told. It was picking up electrical signals that it shouldn’t pick up.


Basically the normal heartbeat consists of waves that are designated P, Q, R, S and T. The P wave, a small peak at the beginning of the trace, is from the atrial contraction. The next wave, R, is from the left ventricle caused by it contracting. At the end is a much smaller wave and peak, the T wave, which was described to me as the lower end of the ventricular pulse. The pacemaker is supposed to pick up P and R waves and not the rest, but it was picking up the T waves and could be applying inappropriate therapy as a result.


That was altered straight away. Once again I think it has had a good outcome but kidney function remains a worry and last Friday the GP rang me (don’t you always know something is radically wrong when they ring you instead of the other way round!) and I have to have another blood test tomorrow. The latest readings must have shown a drop again – I didn’t like to ask this time! But last week I also had one of those viral gastric upsets doing the rounds, which caused some dehydration since I couldn’t keep water down for a while.


So that’s the latest news. The sun is filtering through the trees at the end of the garden and otherwise life is great, so it’s not all bad.

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