Several years ago, I developed a heart condition. The rhythm of my heart can get out of synch when applying pressure or compression to my chest. Bending over, lying on my side or even just tensing muscles surrounding my chest can trigger dysrhythmia. A medical label given to this condition is postural or positional cardio-myopathy or tachycardia. Some of the cells associated with triggering the electrical signals in the heart that are responsible for initiating heart muscle contractions for heart beats become sensitive to pressure and can dysfunction.
Heart arrhythmias are not all that uncommon in older endurance athletes where heart tissue has become damaged and scarred or the heart has become enlarged.
At its worst, I’ve experienced cardiac arrest where my heart essentially stops which quickly leads to loss of consciousness and if not corrected immediately – death. More common is Ventricular Tachycardia (extremely high heart rate) which can lead to fibrillation. This can also become life threatening but usually one retains consciousness longer giving one more of a chance to administer a defibrillation technique.
Long Term Standard of Care
The standard of care for this condition is either ablation or implantation of a pace maker defibrillator. Ablation first involves identifying the rouge cells or nodes in the heart responsible for the abnormal electrical signals. Once these areas are identified, the tissue is destroyed using cold or heat or cauterization. An implanted pace maker takes over the job of electrically triggering heart muscle contractions (heart beats). A defibrillator senses when the heart rate becomes to low, to high, out of synch or chaotic. It then electrically shocks the heart to restore normal rhythm.
Possible Self Defibrillation Techniques
So far, I have not taken the step of getting ablation treatment or an implanted defibrillator. Any invasive or surgical procedure has risks. Weighing the risks and rewards is important when making choices regarding any medical treatment. When experiencing a dysrhythmia or tachycardia, I’ve tried many suggested techniques of emergency self-defibrillation. These include: coughing, gargling, humming, splashing cold water on one’s face (mammalian dive response), pounding one’s chest and or applying pressure to the upper lip just below the nose and or other pressure points. None of these worked quickly or reliably. The theory on these as they increase vagal nerve tone and transition you from a sympathetic to para-sympathetic dominate nerve state calming the tachycardia.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon a technique that so far has worked fairly quickly (within a few minutes) and reliably.
Supine Groin to the Rescue
For me, getting into a supine groin position at the first onset of dysrhythmia has worked better than anything else. This involves lying down on one’s back, arms stretched out to the sides with palms up and legs elevated. Supine means lying down on your back. Groin implies hip flexion. Ideally you can do this on a slope where you can have your legs higher than your head. Raising your legs by resting them on a chair or large rock or something also works. If flat ground is all that is available, you can just raise your legs by bending your knees and hips. Once in this position, deeply relax by breathing slowly and calmly with the intent or visualization of being heavy and melting into the ground.
Sensation of Defibrillation
The transition from dysrhythmia tachycardia to normal heart rate occurs abruptly as if a switch is thrown or a downshift in gears. There is almost a clunk sensation as my heart goes from fluttering with no detectable pulse down to a normal beat and pulse that I can feel. If I am wearing a heart rate monitor, the heart rate measurement will be maxed out (over 200) while in tachycardia and then will abruptly drop to below 100. My normal max hear rate is about 150.
Recent Episode Experience
Until recently, I’ve only experienced heart rhythm problems such as Ventricular Tachycardia in situations where I compressed my chest. A few examples are crawling under a sink to do plumbing, squeezing through a fence, pushing my side against a stuck door, tensing my chest when descending a steep rocky trail on a mountain bike. Unfortunately, I have experienced it recently when running doing sprint intervals. Changing pace quickly and tensing up with exertion has triggered it. And now most recently during a half marathon race.
The following image captures my heart rate and pace during an episode. In this case, it took about 1 minute stopping to lay down in the Supine Groin position to defibrillate. I was then able to continue on.
The next image is from the recent half marathon. It shows pace and elevation from GPS. I was not wearing a heart rate strap so the heart rate scale and value of 0 is meaningless. In this case, it took 2 minutes to defibrillate before being able to continue.
The situation at the race start probably conspired to trigger an episode. The start of the race was delayed and it was cold. This led me to probably be tense and start too fast in a cold state shocking my nervous system before I had a chance to warm up. Thus triggering the arrhythmia tachycardia. When V-tach sets in, I experience it as a tightness in my jaw and the sides of my neck. Not unlike the common symptoms of a heart attack. In addition to this, my legs began to seize up from lack of blood flow forcing me to stop right at the 1 mile marker into the race. I did not have a heart rate monitor on, but I quickly realized what was happening and moved to the ditch at the side of the road and assumed the supine groin position. Within a couple minutes, my heart rate normalized and I got up and continued on. But not before many hundreds of people had passed me and one, yes just one, slowed down and asked if I was alright and needed help.
Going into the race, I had plans to shave another couple minutes off my 60+ age PR for a half marathon. So already this goal was out the window as I had chewed up 2 minutes just lying there. The goal now became: do the best I could, given the conditions. As it turned out, I did a respectful time and matched my previous 60+ PR and probably would have come close the 1 hour 25 minute goal if my heart behaved.
The goal of 1 hour 25 minutes has deeper meaning than just a PR as it is a perquisite for a 3 hour marathon. Using a rule of thumb for predicting one’s marathon time of doubling your half marathon time and adding 9 minutes; 1 hour 25 minutes or better is required to have a chance at breaking 3 hours in a marathon. 1 hour 25 minutes times 2 plus 9 minutes yields 2 hours 59 minutes.
If I can do a half in 1 hour 25 minutes, I will attempt to do a 3 hour marathon. This time, at age 65. Not unheard of at that age, but certainly not common and an ambitious goal.
Young People and Athletes having Heart Issues Happening More Frequently
Perhaps this Supine Groin technique of emergency self-defibrillation will help someone who suddenly finds themselves in a situation where they experience a heart arrhythmia or tachycardia. Or you can suggest it to someone who in your presence is having heart issues.
Lately, heart issues have become more common in healthy young people and athletes. It used to be very rare for healthy young people to have heart issues. The few that did usually had an underlying congenital heart abnormality. Why is this suddenly now happening? Well no one knows for sure, but the suspicions are that it is a side effect of the spike protein from the Corona Virus or from the mRNA vaccines that instruct one’s body to produce the spike protein. The spike protein attacks and damages the endothelial layer (lining) of blood vessels. It also damages blood cells causing blood clumping and clotting. Think of the spike protein as chemically active little shards of glass in your blood. As they get pumped through your blood vessels they wreak havoc.
Interestingly, people that have healthy blood vessels with a thin endothelium are the most prone to bad side effects from the mRNA vaccine where the generated spike protein is not attached to a viral body. People with a thicker endothelium (think calcified or plaque coated from arterial sclerosis) in older people are less prone to blood vessel damage from the vaccine. Older and unhealthy (obese, diabetic) people are more vulnerable to the Corona Virus and associated respiratory complications.
The vaccine manufactures know that a serious side effects of the mRNA vaccine for the young and healthy are blood clots, vascular damage and heart damage. To remedy this, they added the drug Tromethamine to the children’s version of the vaccine. Tromethamine lowers blood pH helping to stabilize the effects of a heart attack or heart damage.
Given that the spike protein associated with the Corona Virus and the mRNA vaccines will be with us for the foreseeable future, knowing an emergency defibrillation technique may come in handy.
Surprised YouTube has not censored the following video. It is an interview of an Elite Endurance athlete describing their heart problems as a result of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine. If you find yourself or a companion in a similar situation of a racing heart rate (Tachycardia) and are far from help, try the Supine Groin position to calm heart rate irregularities as you make your way to a hospital.