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I knew bulimia heart problems were a real risk from my severe binging and purging. I knew that what I was doing was dangerous. I knew it could kill me.
Every night I'd go to bed with my throat burning from stomach acid, my body weak from purging - and my mind exhausted from the hell of living with bulimia.
Every night I'd go to bed, not completely sure that I'd wake up the next morning.
Now that I am full recovered, I'm grateful that I have the chance to share my experience with you. I'm grateful that I get to empower you with knowledge on how to protect yourself - and how to succeed in your own bulimia recovery :)
The most common heart problem caused by bulimia is the development of an irregular heart beat. This happens when you purge and your body becomes depleted of electrolytes such as Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium.
Electrolytes are substances in your blood that play a huge role in triggering the electrical impulses in your heart. Simply put, it is critical for your survival to have them in healthy levels.
When a severe electrolyte imbalance occurs, your heart can stop beating.
Cardiac arrest is just one of many potential dangers in bulimia. For a list of 7 other bulimia complications - and how to prevent them, click here.
I received a message recently from a young women who had a near death experience as a result of her bulimia. This is what Jessie had to say (shared with permission):
"On a weekly basis, my Doctor would send me for blood tests to check my potassium levels as normal....The results came back at 1.7. They totally freaked out and came straight to my home. Now due to my dysfunctional family, I HATE anyone coming to my house. The Doctor insisted that I needed to go to hospital immediately. I had been fine all day and trying to tidy my room and he had disrupted me! I was annoyed to say the least. I did NOT want to go to the hospital! Who did they think they were coming to my home and interupting my evening! I refused to go to the hospital and locked myself in my room. They insisted still and more I dragged my heels. I became more and more annoyed.
I had been down this road many times before. My potassium would get low (Normal is about 4.0-5.0 to my knowledge), they'd make me go to hospital, Id spend 8 painful hours or sometimes more on a slow drip, it would interfere sometimes with me being able to go to work as it would then take hours to get discharged and besides it was boooooring in hospital!
On this occasion though, my potassium was the lowest it'd had ever been but I had no symptoms. The Doctor had enough and called for 2 nurses to also come to the house. There and then they sectioned me for refusing treatment. My Mum now tells me the Doctor was walking up and down my street pacing, biting his nails and smoking like a chimney. The ambulance came and I was taken the long 30 minute trip to the hospital. On the way, I began to feel unwell and I began being sick. I was vomiting bile and retching but there was nothing in my stomach as I had been too busy all day tidying and cleaning my bedroom. I didnt have time to eat - a first for me!
By the time I got to hospital, they took me into A&E, took my bloods, immediately put me on a drip and a heart monitor. I wasnt well but felt ok in myself. Next thing I know, nothing. My Mum now tells me I started to edge off the bed, slump and I was lifeless. The medical staff used defibrillators on me twice until my heart restarted so Im lucky in a way to be alive. "
As you can see, Jessie's Cardiac Arrest happened on a day where she felt okay. She had been cleaning her room and had no idea what was about to happen.
Often, there are no obvious symptoms leading up to cardiac arrest. It just happens. If you purge your food and deplete your body of electrolytes - you're at risk.
But - there are things you can do to help protect yourself...
When I was lost in bulimia, my main goal after binging was to get as much food out of my stomach as I could. Sometimes this would mean purging sessions that went on for hours.
Often, after binging I would 'go for a shower'. The main goal of this shower would be to get rid of the food I'd just binged on.
In the shower I'd vomit and then drink huge quantities of water. Then I'd vomit again.
I'd repeat this process.... Vomit, drink, vomit, drink, vomit, drink...
Until I felt "empty".
This is called flushing.
What I didn't know then - but know now - is that flushing is one most dangerous ways of purging. It's a sure way of depleting your body of electrolytes and setting yourself up for bulimia heart problems.
Flushing is so dangerous that I made a video on it a little while back. Please watch it and make a deal with yourself to never do this dangerous practice again. You are far too beautiful to risk loosing yourself in this way!
If you do end up purging (and I know this happens, even when you're working on recovery) then I'd suggest you pick yourself up with loving kindness. The loving thing to do is to make sure that your body is protected and that you replenish your electrolytes.
You can do this by drinking a glass of...
Of course the only way to completely protect yourself from bulimia heart problems is to recover from bulimia... which, despite what you may think, is completely possible for everybody including you. Want proof? Click here.
I've seen women with severe long term bulimia (I was one of them!) make a complete recovery. They recovered because they...
You can become a normal eater again by following the 3 steps above. If you'd like to learn more about these 3 steps (which are the foundation of my Online Bulimia Recovery Program) click here.
So much love, health and happiness
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community