Friday, March 11, 2011

#44 - Heartbeat Going Awry

When you have Addison's or Adrenal Insufficiency, you can find yourself in a stressful situation that is of a physical injury and/or a highly emotional stress and find your heartbeat soaring. Unfortunately, this condition sometimes means that the heart-rate won't come down so easily on its own.

As for me, with my adrenal condition, this has been a major issue. In fact, at all times I carry a bottle of Atenolol with me because stress can cause my heart-rate to soar and extra Hydrocortisone will not even bring it down. Just this week, my rate got to 160 beats per minute and I had to take a half of a pill to get it to come down to a normal rate. After extensive cardiac testing, it was discovered that this is simply a side effect of my Addison's. Of course, Atenolol has potential adverse effects for those of us with adrenal issues because it also lowers your blood pressure, so I have to use it with extreme caution. If extra Hydrocortisone doesn't do the trick, then I must take a small dose of Atenolol. It's always a balancing act.

I've heard of a few other Addisonians who must take this beta-blocker with caution. A soaring heart-rate can be detrimental to a lot of us, especially when we have gone into a state of rest for an extended period of time, but our heart continues to beat rapidly as if we're in the middle of aerobic activity. In fact, when I was first diagnosed with Addison's in 2001, my resting heart rate was consistently just near 130 beats per minute. I thought it was "normal" for me because I'd lived that way for years. Also, as a teenager and young adult, for years I looked like I had one of those awful present-day spray on orangey tans, but those pictures were taken WAY before the days of sprayed on tans. I see those pictures and I now understand what it meant and why I craved glass upon glass of the pickle juice my mother kept in the fridge. My mother would be furious to find huge pickle jars drained of all pickle juice with all the pickles left in the jar --- juiceless. As I always said, I didn't understand why in the world restaurants didn't serve pickle-juice as one of their beverages!

I don't know how many of you have problems with your heart-rate when under stress, but it sure can be shocking to realize just how fast your heart-rate is going, yet all you are doing is sitting in the passenger seat of a truck. It makes you appreciate every special moment in your life and the desire to live as fully as possible...with a heart that is not complaining about your adrenal glands running out on you! For now, when I am too stressed and my heart-rate is taxed, at least I have a temporary solution. Since stresses, illnesses, injury, etc., in our lives will never go away, I am always doing my best to artificially keep my ticker at a nice even pitter-patter.


  1. Lana,
    I have had a rapid heart rate for many years. I take atenolol daily to keep it controlled. When I get dehydrated it will increase a bit, even with the atenolol. It landed me in the hospital the first time it happened and a few years later it was determined to be sinus tachycardia and not serious, but it feels terrible when it is so fast...I think a very stressful situation is what triggered it the first time. I think it was adrenal disease even then.


  2. Oh, yes, the tan! Forgot to mention that...I looked like I had used a faux tanner or used a tanning bed. My friends thought I was going to a tanning bed but no one mentioned it to me, except my hairdresser. He kept asking if I was using a tanner...guess he thought I'd take the hint and stop!

  3. Same thing happens to me with the tachycardia, it seems that our heart is not able to be controlled as great when adrenal-mission-control has called it quits!

    I have a few pictures to post of my orangey self, but am waiting for my old friends to email them to me...



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