A week ago I visited my cardiologist Dr Stephen Brown at Universitas Hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa. I have two cardiologists – Dr Rosher monitors the rhythm of my heart and Dr Stephen Brown that monitors the physiological aspects of my heart. The reason why I make it a point to visit him or my other cardiologist at least once a year is twofold. The first reason is I want to make sure that my heart is still in sinus rhythm. It did happen to me previously (long ago with a visit to Dr Jordaan), my previous cardiologist, that I was out of rhythm, and his first words were “you’re heart is out of rhythm”. It came as a shock because I felt great and had no symptoms of AF. The thing was that my heart rate was kept down/slow by medication, and that made the symptoms of AF less obvious to me, but my heart was still out of sinus rhythm. So then I got the second shock, the cardioversion shock, and that put my heart back into sinus rhythm.
Being out of sinus rhythm was actually very dangerous because untreated all of us know that AF can cause a stroke or other problems like changing the “structure” of the heart.
The second reason is to keep an eye on the structure and physical aspects of my heart. My right atrium is a bit big and I want the doctors to monitor it. My enlarged right atrium is a result of being born with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) What is Tetralogy of Fallot.
With my visit to Dr Brown, my cardiologist, the procedure is: I first report to reception and they then send me for an ECG – An electrocardiogram EKG or ECG, it is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity, (Yes! we are all Electric!) of your heart. An EKG shows the heart’s electrical activity as line tracings on paper – the up and down spikes.
Thereafter I see him (the doctor), he looks at the ECG and he also examines me, from top to bottom, by feeling my pulse in my neck, arm, chest and at my ankle. He also checks my blood pressure (usually it is low and perfect!). After this, we go to the sonar room and he looks and listens to my heart.
We then go back to his office and he discusses all his findings with me.
I am glad to say that with this visit everything looked great, and we had a long discussion about the future of my heart and the lifestyle that will minimize an afib attack.
Basically, he said, “keep fit, eat right and come and see me next year again.”
You can also learn about my lifestyle, the things I do and don’t do, on my website and blog My afibheart.