Mouth Opened, Prescription
A 37-year-old mechanic consulted
me for dizziness, heart palpitations, recurrent sore
throat, oral thrush, fatigue, anxiety, and mild
depression. Here is my conversation with him:
"What causes your palpitations?" I asked.
"They donít tell me," he replied, his brow
"What makes you dizzy?"
"Who are they?" I asked, knowing the answer
"The doctors I see."
"What makes you anxious?"
"They say it is stress."
"And fatigue? What makes you tired?"
ĎStress again. Thatís what they claim." His face
softened a little.
"And thrush in your mouth?"
"I guess itís my immune system. I was strong when
I was in Africa, but not here."
"Where were you born?"
I stood up and listened to his heart. It raced
with urgency. A little taken aback, I asked,
"Are your aware your heart is racing?"
"Yes. It gets worse."
"They donít tell me."
"They again?" I smiled. "Letís see what we can do
to calm your restless day."
We walked over to one of the treatment rooms. I
asked Antonia on our staff to do the ABT test and
work her magic on his heart. ABT is short for
Autonomic Breathing Test, a test which I developed
to teach our patients self-regulation About fifteen
minutes later, she came and handed me the ABT sheet.
"Look at this," she grinned. "His heart rate came
down from 104 (per minute) to 86and BP fell from
130/79 to 120/77." I thanked her, looked at him, and
"How do you feel?"
"Much relaxed," he replied.
"How is you heart?"
"Not so rushed."
"Do you know now how your heart slowed down?í"
"Yes. I think.. " He hesitated, then resumed.
"She explained that I get more oxygen when I breathe
slowly and that slows my heart. I think thatís what
she said." He broke in a grin.
"Do you how many heart beats you save in a day if
the heart rate slows from 104 per minute to 86 per
minute?" I asked.
"It is 25,920 hearbeats less."
"Really? That many?"
"Really." I reassured him.
"I believe you but Dr. Ali you know that is hard
to believe." He expressed doubt.
"The trick now is for you to remind yourself to
breathe slowly when you are at work. You have to
practice it at home so you can do so natrually and
effortlessly at work. That will slow your heart over
time and also normalize your blood pressure."
"Shall I stop Paxil?" he asked.
"No, not yet. What other treatment have you had?í
"Drugs, more drugs, then some more."
"But what did your doctors say about the
"Did none of your other doctors explained to you
how your heart begins to race and then palpitates?í
"Them? No Dr. Ali, they never sat with me face to
face and explained anything to me. It is different
out there. There I open my mouth and find a
prescription in my hand."
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