There’s a Bird in Your Chest

The Annals of Cardiology No.19 | Bird in Your Chest. What does it mean if you feel a bird in your chest? What are the best ways to treat atrial fibrillation? What is ablation?


The Annals of Cardiology No.19 | Bird in Your Chest

You can read the introduction below or read the full version here.

Have you ever had a bird trapped in your bedroom? In Bermuda it’s not such an unusual occurrence. They sneak in through the chimney. In fact, when I first moved here I awoke one morning from a dead-tired sleep, leaned over to check the time, and found myself eye-level to a crow perched on the nightstand. The next ten minutes was a chaotic spectacle of ricocheting feathers, futile broom-swinging, and beady-eyed stare-downs. Finally, I opened a window and the dang thing flew out.

Now imagine this: What would it be like to have a bird trapped in your chest? That’s how one patient described his arrhythmia to me – “like a bird in my chest that can’t get out.” He had atrial fibrillation, and it caused his heart to suddenly dart sideways, then swoop to the left, then fly into his throat, seemingly ricocheting around his chest. When it would settle for a few blessed seconds, he concluded that his heart had stopped altogether – this stressing him further so that his adrenal glands squeezed more fight-or-flight molecules into his circulation, instigating a new paroxysm of wild heart convulsions. Round and round it went, leaving him debilitated by the chaotic internal thumping. Unlike others with atrial fibrillation, he wasn’t short of breath, exhausted, or fainting, but he was so unnerved by the commotion in his chest, he couldn’t function.

Continued in the full newsletter…

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