Thursday, May 06, 2010
Heart Attack Cruise: Update
That's the EKG I got two weeks ago on the cruise ship showing the rhythms of my wayward heart. Since then, I’ve been grading papers for my online course and seeing the cardiologist.
Let me tell you, the former is less stressful than the latter.
Last week, Thursday, 8 days after my heart attack, I went to see the cardiologist my doctor here in Danville, Virginia, recommended. He looked at the EKG tests and blood word and cardiac enzyme counts I brought in and decided I hadn’t had a heart attack.
He felt that the elevated cardiac enzymes I was showing weren’t the significant ones.
This good news was immediately followed by the bad. My heart has some kind of arrhythmia that needs medication and further testing. He told me to start taking 10 milligrams of Coreg CR daily. He even gave me three weeks worth of free samples. I was feeling good about this guy.
We also set up a nuclear stress test and echocardiogram for this week Tuesday.
I was looking forward to the stress test.
I hadn’t had any exercise or even strenuous walking since my attack, and I was hoping that this would be a good workout. I dressed in some exercise shorts, T-shirt, and running shoes and was ready for anything.
First they gave me an echocardiogram (like a sonogram), and then they injected some kind of radioactive mineral into my blood stream. After waiting for a while to make sure it was moving around in my heart, they set me up on the treadmill.
I typically do about 45 minutes of aerobic exercise each day and expected this to be a piece of cake.
It was. It took me about 9 minutes to get my heart to the target rate (135 beats a minute), and I was feeling pretty good. Then,the nurse put a stop to the whole thing.
She had been monitoring my blood pressure, and she thought it was way too high, 190/100. My resting bp is about typically 120/60, and 190//100 was -- to use her word -- abnormal. She slowed the threadmill and asked me to take a seat until my blood pressure went down. It did, but very slowly, too slowly. This worried her too.
When the cardiologist stopped by and saw the blood pressure numbers, he reacted the way the nurse reacted. He immediately raised the Coreg CR dosage to 40 milligrams a day. A week ago I wasn't taking any meds, and suddenly I was doing mega-doses.
Although my blood pressure was high, I didn’t feel woozy, wonky, or dizzy. I did feel a little winded, but I figured that was because I hadn’t exercised in two weeks, and after all, the stress test had me marching up a 14 degree grade for 9 minutes.
Yesterday, Wednesday, the nurse called me with the results of the various tests. The good news was that I survived. Pretty much everything else was bad news. The cardiologist suspects I have a couple leaky heart valves and two blocked arteries. The valves aren’t a big deal, he said, but I needed to get the blocked arteries fixed.
He recommended he do a cardiac catheterization. That’s where he introduces a thin tube into one of my veins and works it up to my heart. He said that this would let him see how much blockage was in the arteries and whether I would need a stent or a by-pass.
At this point, I’m wondering “what’s going on?!?” Two weeks ago, I was living my normal life, exercising without a problem, eating peanuts and oranges (my favorite vegetarian foods), and now I’m listening to this cardiologist who I don’t know from Adam telling me I might need by-pass surgery and that, although he doesn’t do surgery, he could hook me up with somebody who’s really good.
Linda is of course going crazy, but I’m too drugged to notice.
PS--Linda just asked me to mention that the cardiologist wanted me to have the catheterization this coming Tuesday, but I told him that I couldn't because we're going to Las Vegas for a week with her parents Tony and Mabel. He shook his head and thought for a minute and said we could do it the following week.
I said, "Great."
Then he asked, "Didn't you have your last cardiac event on vacation?"