When Hepatitis C Causes Heart Damage
As if having the hepatitis C virus was not enough, you may also need to watch for risk of heart damage. We know that the virus can lead to advanced liver disease, cancer, and diabetes, to name a few. But you also need to consider whether what to do when hepatitis C causes heart damage.
When I didn’t have a clue that my body harbored the hepatitis C virus, I kept getting sick from this or that. For many years, one of the symptoms that frightened me the most was heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat. I was constantly trying to learn new ways to help my heart calm down through books and exercise programs.
Of course, the first thing I did was contact a doctor. They sent me home with a monitor to wear for a week. It was a huge thing that hung around my neck. I kept a diary of meal times, exercise, and even sex. They wanted to see what was happening to make my heart race and skip beats. It turned up nothing. No jokes about sex here. The doctor still placed me on a beta blocker to slow my ticker down and keep it in rhythm. He said my heart valves and chambers looked pretty good. I didn’t believe him.
I got rid of my Fry Daddy and started walking more. Then I bought a bicycle. Soon I even had an indoor bike to use in the winter. I was eating less fried foods and more oatmeal. It was the beginning of a 20 year battle with the symptoms of heart problems and hep C.
A few years later, the heart palps started getting worse. I lived in a different state this time. A different doctor performed the same tests, including an echocardiogram. Everything looked fine and they increased my beta blocker. I was scared. Even though nothing was wrong with my actual heart, I knew that something was going on. I read books about how to settle my heart rate down.
This was my peak in centering prayer and meditation. I could sit in silence for hours. Learning to calm my thoughts and keep my heart rate low made me feel like I had some control. I kept a diary of my heart rate in my journal. I counted on the second hand on my watch during exercise. Soon, I was using every clock with a second hand to test my heart rate. When digital clocks hit, it took me an entire minute of counting. My heart slowed down with all of my efforts.
But then the fast beats would always come back. They got worse during the last few years before I was diagnosed. I was doing everything in my power.
Here are some tips for heart healthy with hep C:
- Eat heart healthy foods.
- Take vitamins aimed to reduce inflammation.
- Make regular strength training part of your routine.
- Walk, ride a bicycle, run, try yoga, or Tai Chi in an effort to strengthen your heart.
- Let your doctor know about any symptoms.
- Keep a diary of what you notice, how often, and for how long.
All of these things are good to do if you suspect you have heart problems with hepatitis C. A good diet, vitamins, and exercise approved by your doctor is a helpful. Most important, get rid of the hepatitis C virus. My heart symptoms went away after the virus was gone from my body. I hope that your heart is healthy too.
Does reading hep C patient stories aid you in your journey?