Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Heart Disease and How to Escape the Widow Maker

I am examining where I am today compared to six months ago when I had a coronary angiogram procedure. One morning in August, while combing my hair, I suddenly became very short of breath with a tightness in my chest, soon after I had a pain in my back and started sweating. I immediately thought it was an angina attack and reached for a couple of aspirin and headed to lay down. The spell passed but I called the clinic and made an appointment to see my family doctor the next day.

About six months prior, I started taking my blood pressure on both arms and noticed a 10 to 20 point difference on the systolic blood pressure. After requesting that my blood pressure be taken on both arms the next time I went to the doctor and it was different, I was told this was not uncommon. I thought, there must be a reason though and did some research. According a  Harvard Health Blog  it could be a sign of circulatory problems that may lead to stroke, peripheral artery disease, or other cardiovascular problems. I started to watch for signs of heart trouble. I did have shortness of breath and had for quite a long time, definitely a sign. According to the American Heart Association I had the classic signs.

Because I have acid reflex and a hiatal hernia; my doctor thought that was my problem. After I told him the signs I was experiencing, he decided to do an EKG and did a special blood test that determines if a person could have heart disease. Both tested positive so the next Monday I was giving a stress test, with a THR and TKR running on a treadmill would not be the best so I was given a chemical stress test. . On Wednesday, I received a resting scan. I had been told that I looked like I had had a heart attack by the nurse who conducted the first stress test so I wanted the results as soon as possible.

I called on Thursday and was told it was ischemia, which indicated I had a blockage. I was scheduled to see a cardiac doctor on the following Monday at 9 am. That was quick! I received an echocardiogram and was scheduled for a Wednesday angiogram. One of the things I was told was that I did not have a heart attack and there was no damage to my heart. I do have a Left Bundle Branch Block.

During the angiogram, I had a 90% blockage in the left descending artery and the branch off the left descending artery was 99.1% closed. While the procedure was being done, they both occluded, at which time I had much pain. My doctor was able to open them both, he installed a stent in one and did angioplasty on the other one. When he came back to check on me afterward, he told me I was a miracle and had to be very careful. I have wondered what he meant by careful as he didn’t expand on that.

Now at six months out, I am extremely happy to say things look very good. The first thing I did was to go on the Esselstyne and Ornish vegan diets. I say both, as I do eat whites. Both of these diets are suppose to reduce and prevent heart disease. When I first went to the doctor a Lipid test  was taken to determine in cholesterol count. Although it looked like I wasn’t too bad, my total count was 199, my HDL 45, my LDL 134, and my Triglycerides was 139. After being on the diet for a two and half months, my cholesterol was at 111, HDL was 40, LDL was 42, and Triglycerides was 85. My doctor was concerned that it was too low but this is not uncommon when you are on this diet. I will see what my new cardiologist says this coming Thursday in Grand Forks; my former cardiologist retired the end of 2013.

Periodically I will post how I am doing with the heart disease, on the diet, and what the Lipid test results continue to be are. I will also post vegan and vegetarian recipes I have put together and from other web sites.
Right now, I am going out to take a walk and check what effect the 18" of snow has on our farm.