Thursday, February 10, 2011

Figure Skater Ashley Wagner

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a huge ice-skating fan. I love the Winter Olympics every four years, and I usually try to watch the U.S. Nationals and World competition every year. In fact, when I saw that I was having a little girl at my 20 week ultrasound, I jumped for joy that I would have someone to watch ice-skating with (just like I always did with my mom). Last week, much to my delight, my 2 year-old daughter decided she wanted to watch the "princesses on ice" with me as the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship was televised. We were watching the beautiful 18year-old Ashley Wagner (she was the alternate for the women's team last year at the Olympics) perform when the announcers mentioned that she was back on the ice after being troubled with heart palpitations last year. I kept meaning to google it and finally got around to it today. Ashley developed heart palpitations while in Sofia, Bulgaria last Feb. for the Jr. World Championships. She recalls, "My heart felt like it was about to fall out of my chest. I was dizzy. I couldn't breathe." Her coach explains that they did an EKG at the rink because they couldn't figure out what was wrong. "It was scary at the time," her coach said. Wagner said the problem initially began developing a few weeks before her trip. "It started out very, very mild," she said. "I'd be at home before I left, and I'd be sitting down and I felt like my heart would just stop moving... Then it would kind of beat faster to catch up... Once I got to Bulgaria, I was probably exhausted from the trip also and it just set everything off."

Hello, Ashley. Welcome to the crazy heart dance (this one might not be as fun as the dance on ice). Ashley said team doctors told her in Bulgaria that the palpitations were the result of stress and dehydration. After being checked out by the doctors, she went on to place third at Jr. Worlds. Once she got home, she made sure that strucuturally everything was okay with her heart and that she wasn't in any real danger. Now, Ashely says, "I just have to stay hydrated, and I have to stay calm." Wagner has been working on alleviating stress by giving herself down time and taking weekend jogs. She's been making sure to drink plenty of water.

What struck me most about Ashley was that yes, heart palpitations can occur in very healthy and fit individuals. Also, they start for many in their late teen years and early 20's. Mine also started when I was 18 and in my first year at college. I'm always so amazed when I hear stories like this one. I'm not alone. And neither are you. So if your palpitations are benign and you have a structurally sound heart, let's do what Ashley does. Stay calm and drink lots of water! And hey, a jog couldn't hurt either.