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Heart Rhythm Week 2014

Heart Rhythm Week is held to raise awareness to arrhythmic conditions to enable you to understand your own heart rate better.

I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to live with a heart condition, as I was diagnosed with arrhythmia 7 years ago this month at the age of 38. I had attended a friend’s wedding the day before and a great day was had by all. However, the following morning I woke feeling very unwell, short of breath, dizzy, a grey look to my face and the pounding in my chest generated pain that I had never experienced before. The first aider at the hotel automatically called an ambulance as she thought I was having a heart attack.

On closer inspection at the hospital it was established that it wasn’t as first thought, my heart rate was 197 with an irregular heart rhythm and it was diagnosed as atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia. With help from medication it took nearly 24 hours for my heart to return to a normal rate and rhythm and after spending nearly two days in hospital, I was allowed home for complete rest and referred to a cardiologist. The cause of my heart problems still remains a mystery today, but we believe it may have been hereditary.

Now 7 years on I Heart Rateam more aware of my heart rate, pulse and more so, the rhythm. Yes I have days where my heart seems to be all over the place, but every day events and emotions can be triggers. Stress, hormones and over indulgence are the main triggers for me, but as I have educated myself about my heart problems, I feel I am better equipped to deal with them. You may wonder why hormones play a part in heart problems, but with the onset on the menopause some woman can experience palpitations and if you already have a heart condition, the change in your female hormones can also act as a trigger.

I know moving in my later years the signs to look out for and what I can do to keep my heart as healthy as possible. I don’t smoke and never have, I try to drink in moderation, exercising is paramount for a healthy heart and also eating good homemade cooking without the need for processed food. You will find with exercising your heart rate will increase but that’s natural, mine is no different to yours. When running or using a static bike my heart rate can be 160 but I don’t feel any pain or discomfort – this is a normal rate for my age when exercising.

Palpitations can be frightening especially when you least expect them and even now, I find myself suddenly stopping whatever I was doing, checking my pulse and feeling for the irregular heart rhythm. I try to stay calm as anxiety can cause it to get worse, slow deep breathing and focusing on something else tends to help me, but this may not be as easy to do for everyone.

By doing pulse checks you can make sure that the beat is regular, although not everyone is quite sure of how to check it properly. I know that in the past when I’ve checked my pulse I’ve found it straight away and other times couldn’t find it at all. If you don’t know the signs of arrhythmia or how to check your heart pulse have a look at the Know your pulse face sheet on the Arrhythmia Alliance website.

Having a heart condition like arrhythmia hasn’t stopped me enjoying life and taking part in family activities, exercising and travelling abroad. As long as my doctor says I am fit to travel and the condition is stable and well controlled, seeking out new travel adventures will always be part of my future.

No one likes to think something might happen to them while travelling abroad, but for me I like to know I have peace of mind that I am protected from the minute I leave the house. Don’t just rely on a standard travel insurance policy to cover your heart condition as you may find you travel without adequate insurance cover. Not all standard policies cover pre-existing medical conditions. Even if you have been recently diagnosed with arrhythmia, this is still classed as pre-existing and will need to be covered by a specialist travel insurance policy.

Here at Free Spirit we believe travelling should be for everyone no matter what your age or medical condition. Therefore, we can offer cover for arrhythmia and any other associated medical conditions. So why not take a closer look at our arrhythmia travel insurance and get the protection you need for your next trip abroad.

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