Release date: 11th April 2024

Maybe you think this is a strange title, because when you think about a human heart why would you make the connection to it being heavenly? Good question: We as humans are connected at birth into so much more than just an earthly existence. We are connected with one another in the form of energy. We all live on this tiny little planet in our solar system (The Milky Way) but the vastness of the universe, despite the ever-increasing technology, is still a mystery to us all. We may have telescopes and satellites relaying images from outer space, but for those of you who still believe it’s only us, only planet earth, I would advise you to think again.

As humans we are connected to not only the physical world, that means our day-to-day life grounded here on earth, but our other bodies, casual, etherical and spiritual bodies are connected to energy, (or in other words our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies). Just have a think about this: The physical body is surrounded by an auric field. We can’t see it with our naked eye, but even so, it is there. You may notice for example if you walk past someone who is smoking, even momentarily, that you will be aware of the smell of smoke as you walk further. Some of you may have felt bad vibes when in the wrong energy. Opposite in good energy. And if you thought this auric field was quite sizeable, then the auric energy field of the heart is even bigger. No worries if you find this hard to grasp or to understand because this blog is going to be devoted to more about our physical heart.

Because of the huge amount of interest and questions I received when I told you all on social media that I was facing another heart operation (number 3) I found that many of you found it a very scary idea. On the one hand, yes agree that you think this, but on the other hand, my heart has been an issue since I was 19 and had open heart surgery performed by the pioneers of heart surgery, Dr. Christian Barnard, and Dr John Parker. I had a leaking mitral valve (called MV regurgitation). It made me very ill, very breathless, and blue in color and when the valve was repaired (thank goodness) and not replaced with an artificial valve, I have survived on for 50 years so far. The reason I know it is 50 years ago, is that recently someone said it was 50 years ago since ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with their hit ‘Waterloo’, and I knew exactly where I was at that moment. In the National Heart Hospital in Westmoreland Street, just off Oxford Street waiting for this surgery. It is quite a miracle that this valve is ‘as good as new’ as my present and third cardiologist says (Prof. Dr. Lukas Dekker at Catharina Hospital, Eindhoven, Netherlands). And even he thinks this is quite a mentionable fact all these years later.

So here we are in 2024 and today I will have my third heart operation. Recently after a cardioversion in November 2023, I developed a new arrythmia in the upper chambers of my heart. From all the questions I received from you all, about what does this mean, I am going to tell you a little bit first about the anatomy of the human heart.

A human heart is a muscle about the size of a clenched fist, in the middle left of the chest. It is the most vital organ in our body and pumps blood, oxygenated and deoxygenated from the heart to the lungs and then from the heart back around the body. Known as the heart/vascular circulatory system.

The heart is made up of four chambers, the right and left atria (upper) and right and left ventricles (lower). Major blood vessels enter and leave the heart.

A normal heartbeat is around 60-80 beats per minute. Often top sporters have a lower heart rate. The heart rate increases with the physical effort you make.

So, oxygenated blood which I will call ‘red blood’ from the lungs enters the heart through the pulmonary veins (4 in total). It is then pumped through the mitral valve into the left ventricle and then off again into the body via the aorta valve (AoV). The left ventricle is in fact the largest and strongest chamber of the heart. Deoxygenated blood (blue blood) returning from the body is pumped into the right upper atrium, (from the superior and inferior vena cava) then through the tricuspid valve into the right lower ventricle and off to the lungs to be oxygenated. The process is continuous from birth to death, and the heart receives electrical impulses to enable the heart to not only beat but these impulses or signs are telling the heart whether it should expand or contract the chambers.

In my case the electrical system is defaulting and must be corrected with an ablation, and I will talk about this further on in the blog. It is important to know that the electrical impulses are signs to the heart to coordinate the expansions (or contractions) to the heart. A normal cardiac cycle is initiated by the sinus-node, cranially located in the right atrium; its electrical pulse activates both atria and will then enter the AV-conduction system, completing the cardiac cycle by electrically activating the lower ventricles. The AV-conduction system includes the AV-node, Bundle of His and the bundle branches. Again, electrical activation is required for cardiac contractions and abnormal electrical activation, or an arrhythmia, leads to abnormal contraction patterns, such as tachycardia (too fast heart rhythm).

And now we come to the interpretation of the ‘PQRST’ (or electrocardiogram) which measures the heart’s contractions and expansions, the beat itself and the timing; this is the first clue to the cardiologist when things are not exactly as they are supposed to be normally.

We all can either hear (the ‘lub-dub’ sound) or feel our heartbeat (at our pulse) and it is a perfect rhythm of movement and pauses, expansions and contractions.

Here is a diagram from an ECG showing a normal heartbeat… (pay attention to the seconds in time and imagine how many times this actually happens in a lifetime!)

P-top is the electrical activation of the atria; it is small as the atrial muscle mass, creating these electrical pulses.

The P-wave is followed, after a few milliseconds by atrial contraction.

The QRS complex represents the ventricular electrical activation. It obviously is much stronger than the P-wave, as the ventricles have much more myocardial cells creating an electrical pulse. Likewise, the QRS is followed by ventricular contraction after a few milliseconds. 

The T-wave represents the recovery of electrical activation of the ventricles, allowing the ventricles to be activated again. Of course, the atria recover from electrical activation in the same way as the ventricles. However, this electrical signal is too small to be visible on a standard ECG. 

My own ECG shows a very different picture!

A completely different image from the one of a normal heartbeat.

Simply said the heart is confused and flustered about the atrial electrical impulses causing the heartbeat to go all over the place. The P-waves are no longer visible due to an atrial arrhythmia, which, via the AV-conduction system, leads to incorrect impulses to the ventricle. In simple words: the ventricles are incorrectly activated due to an atrial arrhythmia. 

The sinus node (or pacemaker) of the heart is found in the right upper atrium, the chamber contracts, and squeezes blood into the lower chambers where it either leaves to be oxygenated by the lungs or to return oxygenated blood to the body. One thing for sure is that without this ingenious system which forms very early in fetal development, we would not be able to live. So, the sinus node is a very incredulous thing, as it literally listens in to the body and its needs, to messages it received from various nerves and blood born chemicals, such as adrenaline. The sinus node is then able to adjust the actual rate of the electrical impulses, so for example if you suddenly must run to move away from something, (you know the classical fight or flee situation) these signals will be received extremely fast, and the heart action (pumping) will increase dramatically to enable you to make the physical action. A normal heartbeat around 60-80 minutes can suddenly change to over 200 bpm when running flat out.

It is all very clever and almost mind-blowing not only how the human body works and, in the spotlight, here, is the heart. That is why I think people feel that the human heart is so ingenious it is miraculous, mystical, and hence my title, the heavenly heart. A very amazing creation process. And we know that even up to present day, no one has ever been able to completely understand the creation process itself. How life occurred on this planet in human form. And by the way I do not believe in the theory by Darwin that we evolved from apes, but this is a personal opinion. Many do believe this!

So, what is going to happen to me when I go for an ablation on 11th April this year. People found it really scary when I said that Lukas will work on my beating heart. A catheter will be placed through the inferior vena cava one of the body’s major veins in my groin, and up into the right atrium of my heart. The fibrillation or flutters (the arrythmia) means that the electrical system is sending out too many signals at the same time and my heart is unclear what it is supposed to be doing. Hence a very fast normal heartbeat called tachycardia at around 130 bpm in rest). And a poor pumping action because the electrical wires are all crossed. Using the catheter in the heart, he will be able to make scars in the heart tissue at the appropriate place. Last time I had a cryo-ablation (freezing the tissue to create scaring) where the pulmonary vein enters the heart (upper left atrium). To get there he had to puncture through the ‘inside’ heart wall, or to give it its proper name Septum). The catheter contains a special tip which tells him how deep he can go, so as not to damage the heart wall or even more so the working of any of the valves… 

Basically, this is known as non-invasive surgery, because it is not open-heart surgery when they have to open the rib cage, like with my valve repair and then recovery takes a long time. This is all in one day care and I will be fast asleep all the time until all the work is done.

I would like to say here how incredibly important I think it is, not only for me, but for Lukas too, to have complete trust and faith in the idea he knows exactly what he is doing, he has performed this many times and I can surrender myself completely to the surgery. This makes me a very calm patient, I will not be having the shakes and jitters beforehand, maybe my heart rate will increase involuntarily, because of the tension, but I will be in a state of calmness which I can do using various techniques. Together with his team, and me, we can do it! That is totally the right mind set to enter into such a procedure.

The whole procedure will take about one and half hours and when I am awake again, I will have to lie flat for several hours to prevent any bleeding from the groin. There will be a pressure bandage over the puncture point in the groin and I will continue to take all my mediation before and during the procedure. I have anticoagulants (Pradaxa) which keep my blood thinner than normal all the time, to avoid any clots forming and passing through the heart to the brain which could cause not only heart problems but a stroke or such like in the brain.

When all is well, and the wound has sealed completely and there is minimum bruising, I will go home same day and then spend at least a week or so taking things easy to allow everything to repair and to allow my heart to get used to normal electrical impulses once more. This is very important and means maybe giving up things I enjoy for the time being, like sport, cycling and any form or stress (easier said than done in these times) or physical exertion to give myself and my heart the time to flow into the natural rhythm.

All of which I am very happy to do because I know better than anyone else how important the heavenly heart is!

And one final thought before I finish: The most FAQ was people asked me why this must happen again? After 2018. I didn’t know but apparently this is the reason:

The surgeons in London (1974) had to open up the atria to get access to the mitral valve. Also, the mitral regurgitation has also created some scar tissue to the large volume overload (the abnormal backflow through the leaky valve), even after these years. These issues make you more vulnerable to atrial arrhythmias. Moreover, these arrhythmias are already very common (6% in >65 years), and new scars develop over the years (in a way like wrinkles in the skin, or grey hairs). Even so, it the Mitral Valve has been working perfectly for 50 years, which is a great credit to their pioneering work.

And another food for thought: the date the 11th is a master angelic number, so how can it be better than this?

And finally, a ‘shout-out’ to my friend Patty Harpenau who is currently working on an online project called ‘Hemelhart’. When she asked me what is that in English? I could only reply ‘Heavenly Heart’! For more information on her very interesting online course on the Heavenly Heart please go to Highly recommended.

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Jill Kramer

Hi! I'm Jill and I'm a passionate author of books, short stories, columns and blogs.

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