I am a 62 year old male, non-smoker. I was diagnosed with Sinus Node Dysfunction (Sick Sinus Syndrome) about18 months ago after I failed a stress test, had frequent palpations and a very low resting heart rate (low 40’s). The cardiologist said that I would likely need to have an artificial pacemaker installed. I am 6’ tall and at the time, I weighed over 230 lbs.
I immediately changed my lifestyle – ate less, better food, reduced alcohol consumption, eliminated red wine and exercised every day. I lost 40 lbs. The cardiologist was delighted and my heart palpitations all but stopped. An angiogram indicated that I have clean arteries and good cardiac mechanics. The specialist who performed the angiogram said that I need an “electrician, not a plumber.”
Last week, my cardiologist said he did not need to see me again unless my GP wants to refer me. Instead, he wants me to continue twice annual blood tests and halter monitoring, annual stress tests, under the supervision of my GP. He encouraged me to continue with my lifestyle changes and to cut out alcohol altogether.
I was a little surprised at the “no alcohol” instruction as he had previously suggested I limit consumption to the occasional drink, other than red wine. He said I should regard my condition as like someone who is allergic to shell-fish. He said he had never had a drink in his life.
Knowing my condition and that I have had a reprieve from a degenerating disease, I am prepared to do anything to improve my prognosis. However, with all that has been written about beneficial health effects of small quantities of alcohol, I wonder whether my cardiologist gave me the best advice in telling me to give it up altogether.
It is probably best to ask them that because unless they thought you were an alcoholic, I am not sure they would say that.
In general, stress tests are not something that need to be ordered every year either. If you had clean coronaries this year, I am not sure what a stress test would show. I cannot advise you to not have a stress test, but I am also not a big believer in stress testing asympomatic people with no coronary artery disease on a heart cath.
Some one would have to review your medical records to determine if the agree with all those recommendations or you could just ask your doctor again why he thinks moderate alcohol consumption is a bad idea.
Thank you Doctor. Perhaps that is it, though I can't imagine why he might have thought me an alcoholic. He has repeatedly stressed the “trigger” effect of alcohol, especially red wine, in any quantity, as the cause of heart palpitations. I will try to get a fuller explanation from my cardiologist or my GP. If consuming 5-10 oz of wine twice a week is good for me, perhaps I should be doing it. On the other hand, if the benefits are dubious or there is something about my situation in particular that makes any amount of alcohol a potential risk, it is no issue.
I wonder, is there any speculation among researchers that alcohol consumption can be a possible cause of Sinus Node Dysfunction?
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