There are all sorts of awareness days and weeks these days. They are a fantastic way for various people to come together to raise awareness on certain conditions. The purpose being to educate people so that if they suddenly find themselves experiencing this condition that they may have a memory of reading or hearing something that may just help them in that moment. This week’s awareness campaign is Heart Rhythm Week.

So why is Heart Rhythm Week something that I associate with when my son was born prematurely? My son was born with two concerning health conditions. One was Hydrops fetalis, which has now cleared and a condition I will cover in another blog. The other is a heart condition called Supraventricular Tachycardia or SVT which he still has.

What is SVT?

It’s an electrical impulse in the heart that isn’t working correctly. It misfires and makes the heart beat too quickly. My son’s heart was beating at 320 beats per minute when he was born. For the next four weeks it was regularly reaching 290 beats per minute.

Stethoscope. Photography credit: Hush Naidoo
Stethoscope. Photography credit: Hush Naidoo

We were told our little boy’s heart wouldn’t be able to keep this up for a long period of time and that heart failure was a real possibility. During his neonatal stay he needed to be revived with chest compression’s as his heart did tire. Going into his fifth week he was transferred to a more specialist hospital after having an SVT episode for 24 hours. Within 12 hours of him arriving at the new hospital his SVT heart condition stabalised. He went another 10 months before having another episode.

You can find our more about SVT on the NHS website here. It’s usually a manageable condition that can affect adults and children. Episodes can be regular and happen daily or weekly. Or irregular and maybe only happen as little as once a year. There is no one thing that causes an episode to happen either.

Heart Rhythm Week

The first Heart Rhythm Week took place in 2004 and was mainly linked with coronary heart disease. The campaign was to help people identify any heart arrhythmia they might have. However it encourages people to take 30 seconds to get to know the rhythm of their heart. Does it beat too fast, too slow or normally?

Here is a great website the the UK charity Arrhythmia Alliance. There is lots of information, interesting facts and educational resources. You can also find out what they are campaigning the government for.

Heart shaped balloons. Photography credit: Christopher Beloch
Heart shaped balloons. Photography credit: Christopher Beloch

The message of Heart Rhythm Week

The main message from Heart Rhythm Week is to get your heart rate checked. You can check your own pulse, click here to see a 3 minute YouTube video from the Arrhythmia Alliance charity showing what to do.