Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Heart blog continued.

I left the last blog off waiting on my results from the chemical stress test. The doctor called me Friday June 11th, two days after the test, to tell me the results. He said that the stress test showed that I had some sort of blockage in the front and back of my heart. Well, that freaked me out. The doctor scheduled a heart catheter for the following Wednesday, June 16th, to further evaluate my heart. During a heart catheter they make a small incision near your groin and insert a probe inside of your artery. They snake the probe up into your heart and then release a dye to see how well the blood is flowing through your heart arteries. If they find a blockage the doctor may do a balloon angioplasty to open up the blockage and then insert a stent to keep the artery open. In the mean time the doctor immediately put my on Plavix and aspirin. So, of course, all sorts of questions are running through my mind. Did I have a heart attack? Can I die at any time from this blockage? Will I need the stents?
Well, I went to the internet and started researching stents. They have drug infused stents and bare metal stents. The bare metal stents tend to block back up, sometimes very quickly. There are three main ways that they can block up. (1) The trauma at the site may cause blot clotting. (2) Plaque buildup at the site of the stent. (3) Your artery wall may grow around the stent too much and reduce the blood flow through it. The drug infused stents can still block up from blood clotting and plaque buildup but they do reduce the growth of the artery walls around the stent, at least for a while. Because of the first two reasons you must take blood thinning medication, aspirin, and cholesterol lowing drugs for the rest of your life.
Through all of my research I came to the conclusion that stents are not reliable. The only other options are to have a bypass around the blockages or use drugs to keep your blood thin and try to reduce the buildup in your arteries. Neither of those options seemed like a good idea. So for the 5 days I had to wait for my heart catheter I was really stressed. Those days were filled with a lot of praying to God! The doctors are very set on using these stents and just seem to pop them in at will. I really began to dread the idea of getting stents put in. I figured that would be it for my running.
I finally had the heart catheter and much to my relief the doctor could not find any blockages! I do not know what happened during the chemical stress test to show blockages but the heart catheter did not show any blockages. I was very, very happy about that. I thanked God profusely.
The doctor still made me have an echocardiogram on June 25th. The echo is mainly to evaluate the action of your heart valves. I hope the results of that go ok. It seems like every other test shows some abnormality. I won’t find out the results of the echo until next week. In the mean time I have decided to start jogging again.
On June 26th my family and I have gone on our vacation to the Outer Banks. We are staying on Roanoke Island. I will be doing a couple of runs while on vacation. I am very much relieved that I can relax on this vacation with these potential heart problems behind me.
Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Out of action for a while

Well, I missed the Paris Mountain 15K trail run. Let me explain the situation.
I am about 90% recovered from the calf strain I got last March. I have built myself back up to 4 miles with the Vibrams. About every mile or 2 I needed to stop and stretch out my calves because they fell close to getting another strain. They just feel sort of tight. I have continued with the stretching and the exercising of my calves. I was fully willing (not necessarily ready) to run the 15 K trail run. My plan was to start out with the Vibrams and bring my Nikes in a back pack and change into them if I felt any trouble with my feet. I felt as though I could make it at least 4-5 miles before having any soreness.
However, on Mother’s day I decided to take a nap late in the afternoon. As I lay down I noticed my heart felt like it was beating very hard. I just figured it was something I ate and put up with it. I actually had some tightness of the chest and pain in my chest. But I did not feel bad enough to go to the doctor. I had just had a physical a week before and all seemed good. My EKG was good and my blood pressure was 102/68. My cholesterol was up a little but the doctor felt that I could work on that to lower it. So off and on all week I felt like something was going on with my heart. I had to go out of town for work a couple of days. One of those days I decided to test my heart out with a jog. I put on the Vibrams and jogged 4 miles at a park close by the hotel. I felt ok but it seemed like my heart rate was higher than normal for a slow pace. I got back in town late Thursday and could not get a doctor appointment before the weekend. So I went into the MD360 close by my house. She took an EKG and noticed a “non-specific” abnormality, whatever that is! So they made an appointment for me at a cardiologist. The MD 360 doctor said I was not having a heart attack.
The next week I decided to go to my family doctor. He ran another EKG and said it also showed the non-specific abnormality. That is when the doctor told me to skip the Paris Mountain 15K! Since I was still having tightness in the chest and some pain I decided he was right. I did not run in the race.
I went to the cardiologist and he took another EKG. He said the EKG was okay and it did show some slight difference then normal but he said runners sometimes get that. He actually called it runner’s heart. He told me that I should take a chemical stress test and an echocardiogram. I took the chemical stress test on June 8th. It was very interesting. I thought I would be running on the treadmill. However for this test they put some Thallium in your blood so they can put you on some sort of machine to see your blood flow through your heart. Instead of running on the treadmill they shoot you up with some sort of substance to expand your blood vessels. It made me feel very strange and my pulse shot up from 58 to 99 in about 30 seconds. My blood pressure dropped from 114 to 102 at the same time. They had me wired up to the EKG and said my heart responded correctly. I will not hear the full results for a few more days.
I have not exercised for about 2 straight weeks now. I am getting stir crazy. Most of my heart pains and chest tightness are now gone. I still feel like my heart beats hard when I go up stairs at work. Maybe it always did that and now I notice it more. Once you think something is wrong with your heart you start zoning in on every little thing.
So that is the story. The cardiologist did not tell me not to jog so I went for a 3 mile slow jog last Sunday. I also played racquetball today. I feel almost normal so I figured it must not be a heart attack. Someone mentioned that you can get a mild infection in your heart or even a virus can affect your heart. Maybe that is what happened. When I get the results of my stress test back I will update my blog. I expect it will be normal though.
Have a great day!