Triggers of Arrhythmias

I’ve started a new self-research project to learn about the triggers of my arrhythmias. (I’m going to log it both here and in the QS Forum project logs, since there are overlapping but different communities on these forums, but apologies if you are one of the handful of people who participate in both.)

Through some self-tracking and sharing my data in a video conference with a cardiologist, I’ve found out that my arrhythmias are most probably all premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). It’s a common condition, and many people find they are triggered by alcohol, coffee, stress, sleep problems. I’m not sure enough about what’s going on to do a very rigorous experiment. My tolerance for controlling my daily life through very careful timing of events and lifestyle changes is not very high, so before I try to do something difficult I want to know more about what’s going on. So I’m going to keep a journal on EventLoggers for two weeks and then assess.

I normally drink about 5 drinks a week, rarely more than 1 to 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor per drink. I’ve been leaning against this and haven’t had a drink since Sunday night, and also haven’t had a severe arrhythmia period since Tuesday. So – a more or less natural experiment is already under way. Eventually I’ll have another drink, certainly by this Sunday when some in-laws come over for a (well distanced) visit outside on our lawn. I’ve also limited myself to a single cup of coffee in the morning.

I’ve created a daily journal using Event Loggers, a free tool build and supporting by Dean Reeds, a QS Forum user. Ideas about symptom and event reporting are of interest in both our communities, so I hope to learn a bit about this topic too.

But, most importantly for now: What is responsible for my improvement? Less coffee or no alcohol? Or both? Or something else all together?

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My episodes of arrhythmia have varied a lot from day to day.

I tracked my diet for a week using Event Loggers, but the process was demanding and nothing really jumped out at me from the record, and I’m not sure how to set up a doable experiment involving the level of detail that this record preserves.

On May 21 I reported that I’d stopped drinking and hadn’t had a bad day since Monday May 18 (Tuesday, which I mentioned in the last post, was actually a good day). Then, that very afternoon I had a severe episode. The following Sunday I had relatives over and had a drink, but though the afternoon had some episodes the evening was fine. The next day I had a severe episode after lunch, and then the next days were remarkably clear. For a full week I was ok. I thought I’d won! Who knew why, and who cared – if they were gone they were gone. Then on Tuesday I had a stressful family event: my elderly father fell and had to go to the emergency room. The arrhythmias started again. That’ seems like a strong clue. But I don’t think it’s definitive. I’ve had episodes on calm days as well as stressful ones.

I’m thinking about how to revise my tracking based on these more or less casual observations to give me more insight.