Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I was in the hospital on Friday because apparently I need to eat more bananas

So, Friday morning I dropped Odin off at daycare and went straight to the emergency room. I was there for 3 hours, but for the first 2 I was having heart palpitations and sever chest pains. After a bunch of tests the doctor concluded that the only thing weird in any of my tests was that my potassium was too low. Seriously?! Not eating enough bananas and green leafy veggies will make me feel like my chest is exploding? 

Apparently so.

I looked this up on WebMD not because I don't trust my doctor but because I wanted something to quote for you. Their article on Potassium and Your Health states the following: 

"A critical electrolyte, potassium allows our muscles to move, our nerves to fire and our kidneys to filter blood. The right balance of potassium literally allows the heart to beat...
For people with abnormal heart rhythms, potassium may be even more important. Potassium is hiding inside every heartbeat. Each heart muscle needs just the right potassium balance in order to contract in a coordinated fashion. People who’ve had abnormal heart rhythms -- arrhythmias or dysrhythmias -- are at risk for an uncoordinated heart rhythm." 

As far as I know I have never had an abnormal heart rhythm until Friday. Actually, in the past 2 years I was pregnant, and therefore hooked up to a heart monitor quite a bit.So whatever it was that caused my abnormal heart rhythm for 2 hours on Friday morning was hopefully just a freak occurrence. The symptoms went away by themselves after almost exactly 2 hours and the doctor sent me home with a home heart monitor (which prevented me from sleeping pretty much at all on Friday night) and potassium pills. But, the pills are only for a week so I need to find ways to integrate more potassium into my diet.

So, WebMD recommends that I get 4,700mg of potassium a day, that's 8.7 bananas. Okay, that sounds a little excessive.

Estimates of potassium in certain foods 
Food Serving size Potassium amount (milligrams)
Cooked spinach 1 cup 840 mg
Sweet potato 1 medium 695 mg
Plain nonfat yogurt 8 ounces 579 mg
Banana 1 cup 540 mg
Cooked broccoli 1 cup 460 mg
Cantaloupe 1 cup 430 mg
Tomato 1 cup 430 mg
Fat-free milk 8 ounces 380 mg
Strawberries 1 cup 255 mg
 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (2010). Nutrient data laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23. Available online: http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl. 

Thankfully, all of these foods are also vegetarian so they will make a nice addition to my February Area of Opportunity goal to eat a vegetarian diet one day a week

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