240 Beats per Minute. Life with an Unruly Heart

Roger Mills RMILLSMD@MSN.COM 1395555991611



Bernard Witholt PhD, Roger M. Mills MD

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This is the story of a distinguished scientist-entrepreneur and dedicated rower who struggles to understand and live with a difficult and life-threatening heart condition.



Short Summary

In 1999, during a business meeting at the Zurich Stock Exchange, Bernie noticed "a strange rattling" in his chest. A few days later, he had it a second time and this time, he went to the hospital. His heart rate was a steady 240 beats per minute. His struggles with illness have begun.

By 2012, after an infection of his implanted defibrillator led to its removal, Bernie had worked out a program of medication and "warm-up" exercise that allowed him to return to competitive rowing. In his enthusiasm to participate in the Zurich Sprints, he neglected everything he had learned.


Primarily Switzerland (Zurich) and the Netherlands.

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Internal Journey/Rebirth

Plot - Other Elements


Mature Audience Themes

Information not completed

Main Character Details

Name: Bernie

Age: 60

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Charming,Confident,Educated,Masculine,Skillful

Additional Character Details

Name: Roger

Age: 60

Gender: Male

Role: Skeptic

Key Traits: Empathetic

Additional Character Details

Name: Renske

Age: 60

Gender: Female

Role: emotional

Key Traits: Charming,Empathetic,Engaging

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Development Pitch

As the story begins, Bernie's background sets his character. Born in Holland during WWII, he spent a number of years with his family in rural Brazil, eventually settling in a small rural town in New York state with no plans for his future. A high school teacher arranged for the visiting dean of admissions from Amherst to interview Bernie, and he was interviewed, accepted, and received a full scholarship all in one day. He went on to athletic success as an oarsman, and as a scientist, receiving the highest award the Dutch government can confer. At the peak of his career, he developed a life-threatening illness, struggled to live with it, and then neglected everything he had learned for the sake of rowing in the Zurich Sprints, with tragic consequences. It's a classic story arc, rising from the ashes of the war and the poverty of a failed farm in Brazil to the top levels of European science and business, then loosing essentially everything to a moment of what? Pride, carelessness, hubris?

About The Author

Bernie, deceased, is the primary author. He was a distinguished European scientist, winner of the highest honors from the government of the Netherlands for his accomplishments. Roger, a friend, classmate, teammate, and cardiologist edited Bernie's notes of his heart disease and assembled a narrative with commentary on Bernie's struggle to live with a life-threatening illness.

Target Audiences

Age: 35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: River Grove Books (Greenleaf Book Group)

Year Published: 2018

Hard Copy Available