Fun_People Archive
26 Oct
Sex and your Electrocardiogram

Date: Tue, 26 Oct 93 16:35:40 PDT
To: Fun_People
Subject: Sex and your Electrocardiogram

[Source unknown, unfortunately.  Someone named "C"?  -psl]

     These days in the hospital we have lots of people on continuous
cardiac monitoring for signs of scary rhythms, failing pumps and the like.
I don't think anyone realized, though, just how much else we would see on
the monitors.  For example, I believe I made the first reported
electrocardiographic diagnosis of hypoglycemia when I noticed that every
night at 2am, the "no heartbeat" alarms would go off as Mr. R's insulin
would kick in, his blood sugar would plummet, he'd break out in a cold
sweat, his ECG leads would slide off, and we'd all go charging down the
hall ready to defibrillate him.
     Likewise, the libido sometimes makes a cameo appearance on the ECG
tracing in interesting ways; most easily seen in the heart rate. I recently
admitted a young woman with palpitations. Expecting she was just nervous
and over-caffeinated, I hooked her up to the monitor and *YOW* she was
having up to six second pauses! (Wenkebach arrythmia for you detail buffs)
She sat on the ward awaiting pacemaker placement for a couple of days and I
noticed going over everybody's monitor records that she had runs of high
heart rate each evening around 7pm. Next time, I was ready. I hung out at
the nurses station where all the tracings are up on the screen and...there
it was, pulse from 55 up to 120 beats a minute. I hustled down the hall to
her room just to see her emerge from her bathroom and another nice young
lady come out right behind! "Just stopping by," I lied, "I noticed that
your pulse rate was way up on the monitor and I wanted to make sure you
were OK." Both pulsated multiple shades of pink and I knew I had my
diagnosis. Climacticardia Lesbiansis. "Keep up the good work," I smiled,
	Libidinous changes in the cardiographic waveform can be even more
striking. Last year, one of the Cardiology fellows (strictly speaking, she
is a fella, I suppose, but the language has yet to catch up with the
times.) told me that she was strolling down the hall when the cardiac
alarms screamed and the intern by the monitors shouted, "V. TACH! In 46!"
running for the crash cart. Bursting into Mr. B's room, they discovered him
vigorously stroking his tallywhacker at a rate of 220 per minute in a
ragged sawtooth waveform that looked for all the world like the
life-threatening rhythm known as ventricular tachycardia. Since 100 joule
high-voltage pulse to the chest is the initial therapy, it's a good thing
he waved them off. He could have gotten an electrical singe to his chest
hair to go with the hair on his palms. Jacked off when he was jacked in and
almost got juiced. Pseudoarrythmia Onanistica.
	Hospital lore abounds with these kind of stories and I could go on
and on (especially after a glass or two of nice wine). In the interest of
brevity, I'll stick to just one -somewhat tangential- further example. I
intend to write this up when I have enough cases. (Now a specialist in
infectious disease, I risk getting my name attached to some horrible
dripping genital sore so maybe I can strike first and name something nice
after myself). Anyway, I started noticing this sign when I was a med
student. The young, studly guy comes in and says, "My girlfriend made me
get a checkup cuz she says my heart sounds funny." Now, the heart rate of
young guys in good shape can be highly variable at rest so the first time I
heard this I said, "I wouldn't worry about it. We often see this. Just to
reassure her, though, I'll examine you and get an EKG." Damned if he wasn't
in atrial fibrillation (a moderately unhealthy rhythm characterized by a
highly irregular pulse). Since then, I have heard this three more times and
each time -when the girlfriend was insistent that something was wrong-
something was indeed wrong. In retrospect it makes sense. Who else spends
hours with their ear to your chest? Who else would worry enough about it to
make you go to the doctor? The pattern-analysis talents of the brain are so
impressive that even without knowing what was wrong, people can say that
something didn't sound right. This is a curious symptom because the
complaint is in the girlfriend (no boyfriends, wives or husbands yet)
rather than the patient. I find it rather sweet because the diagnosis
depends so intimately upon whom one loves and with whom one cuddles. The
ECG is merely confirmatory. There it is: c's sign. You heard it here first.

[=] © 1993 Peter Langston []