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Heart Attack, Anyone?


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#1 Schmoo

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 02:57 AM

So I had a heart attack back in 2013. Anybody else in the HA club? I had mine at 38. No, I had no family history, but I was overweight, smoked, had terrible sleeping and eating habits, and had high cholesterol that I didn't take meds for.

I assumed my "good genes" would protect me.

I was wrong.

I've since lost fifty pounds, started exercising and eating healthy, and quit smoking.
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#2 Greg

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 03:02 AM

Dang, Scott!  

 

That's freaking young for that shit...glad you are on track for not having another one.  Smoking is the worst.



#3 Schmoo

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 03:09 AM

Yeah, pretty much the first thing my cardiologist said was that I had to quit smoking. I had actually quit about three months before the heart attack but was still using a nicotine-laced e-cigarette like a bandit. Doc said I had to quit that too.

I quit cold turkey that day.
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#4 Greg

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 03:20 AM

Good for you, man!

 

I smoked from about 16 today 26.  Was super easy for me.  Was out drinking with my brother at SXSW in 92 and he really hates smoking.  I had plans to stop before going home for Spring Break, so he just said to stop now.  That's what I did...put it out, gave my lighter to someone and that was it.  One of the smartest things I've ever done...


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#5 Schmoo

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 03:24 AM

I think you just have to get to that point to where you're done. I had tried quitting numerous times, but it never stuck until the heart attack.

Thankfully, I had only started smoking when I was 32, so I'm hoping that six years of smoking wasn't enough to cause any long term damage.

Stress tests on my heart showed no damage from the heart attack so that's a plus. I have another stress test next spring.

#6 Greg

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 03:26 AM

Nah, the lungs are pretty resilient, so from the moment you put out a smoke, your lungs start to rejuvenate.  I wouldn't worry about it...

 

Good thing about your heart...that can take a serious hit with a heart attack.  



#7 Schmoo

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 03:30 AM

The cardiologist called it a "minor" heart attack. I look at it as a great wake up call and if I end up having another one, at least I will be able to know that's it not because I didn't do everything I was supposed to do.

#8 Greg

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 03:49 AM

What were the warning signs?  I mean, what did it feel like in the run-up to the arrest?

 

I know how strokes present themselves as they begin, but not sure about cardiac arrests...is it pain?  What does it feel like?



#9 Schmoo

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 04:50 AM

Well, it's important to differentiate between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest.  People frequently confuse the two.

 

A heart attack is when an artery in the heart gets blocked, and therefore blood flow is either reduced or cut off completely to that portion of the heart that the artery in question feeds.  It's the exact same thing as a stroke, but the difference is that a heart attack happens in the heart, and a stroke happens in the brain.  But both involve blood flow being blocked in an artery. 

 

Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating.  Technically, death only happens when cardiac arrest occurs.  People who die from "cardiac arrest" are often said to have had a "heart attack," but that's not necessarily true.  A drug overdose, for instance, might cause cardiac arrest (i.e., the heart stops beating) but that's not the same as having a heart attack.  I remember correcting people when they said that Michael Jackson "had a heart attack."  :)   

 

I didn't have cardiac arrest.  I never lost consciousness and my heart never stopped beating.  

 

It was a pretty day in late March, and I decided to ride my bike in an effort to get some exercise (something I never did back then).  I only rode for about 10 minutes, but I ended the ride by pushing myself up a steep hill.  I was huffing and puffing badly on the hill, but I was embarrassed to stop and walk my bike. There were some people outside and I didn't want to look like a fat slob who couldn't ride up the hill.  

 

A really, really bad decision.

 

When I got back up the hill to my house, I parked my bike and knew immediately I had overdone it.  I was extremely short of breath and weak in the legs when I got off the bike.  After trying to catch my breath for a few moments in the garage, I went inside the house.  I knew something was wrong when the single step required to go up into the door made my legs feel like they might collapse.

 

I got into the house and drank some water, but I was still huffing and puffing like a bandit.  I just couldn't catch my breath.  I started feeling anxious and thought that I was having a panic attack.  I decided I should eat something, because I realized that even though it was about 3:30 in the afternoon, I had not yet eaten.  (This was common for me at the time...I would stay up half the night, then sleep until noon or later, and wouldn't eat until the evening.)  I thought perhaps my blood sugar had bottomed out.

 

However, when I tried to eat some lunch meat, I found that I couldn't even swallow it.  I ended up spitting it out.  

 

About this time, I started having pain all across my upper chest and down into both arms.  The pain was something I had never felt before, and I remember specifically feeling it all the way through my chest and into my back.  Ten or twelve minutes had probably passed since I'd gotten off my bike, but I was still huffing and puffing like I'd just run a marathon.  

 

I'm not sure how long I tried to get myself under control.  I know I started splashing water over my face and head (something I do sometimes when I have a panic attack) and I know I laid down in the floor of the bathroom at one point because I felt like I was going to faint (another thing that has happened once or twice when I've had a bad panic attack).  I didn't pass out, however, and eventually got back up and decided to go upstairs and take a shower (showers are another thing I do sometimes if I feel anxious - they help to calm me down).  

 

I was feeling a little bit better by this time, but the chest/back/arm pain was still there, and I was noticing that my heart was skipping beats. I also still felt breathless.    

 

At this point, I should have known that I was having a heart attack, but I was so certain that there was no way I could have a heart attack at my age, that I continued to tell myself it was just a really, really bad panic attack.  

 

Going up the stairs to get in the shower, I practically had to crawl up the stairs because my legs were so weak.  

 

It might be important to note that I was alone at home at the time; my wife and kids were actually out of town for the day and were on their way home when this was happening. 

 

I sat down in the shower and tried to calm myself, and I did feel a little bit better, but I still couldn't get myself under control and was still having chest pains.  

 

I got out of the shower after just five or ten minutes and decided it was time to call my Mom, who is a nurse.  When I described everything to her, she told me I should call an ambulance.  At that point I got dressed and, still not thinking I could really be having a heart attack, I drove myself to a nearby Urgent Care.  They were just about to close when I got there and I could tell by their faces when I walked in that I must have looked really bad.  They immediately took me back and gave me oxygen and did an EKG.  The doctor offered me nitroglycerin, but the thought of taking something like that freaked me out and I told him I didn't want it.  Instead, I took an aspirin.  The EKG was normal, but they went ahead and called an ambulance and said I should go to the hospital just to be on the safe side. 

 

After I got in the ambulance, they hooked me up to a more sophisticated EKG (a so-called 12-lead EKG) and after he got the reading the paramedic very calmly told me that I was, in fact, having a heart attack.  We were already on the road at that point, but they were driving without the lights on.  At that point they turned the lights on and sped up.  I made a couple of phone calls from the ambulance on the way to the hospital, to tell my wife what was going on.

 

When I got to the hospital, I was immediately swarmed by what seemed like 500 people who started IVs in both arms and hooked me up to a defibrillator and started asking me questions and pumping medicine into my body.  I ended up going to the Cath Lab where they found I had an artery completely blocked.  They inserted a stent and that was pretty much it.  I stayed in the hospital for two nights (the heart attack happened on a Saturday) and I went home on Monday.  I was off work for two weeks and was then given clearance to go back.  

 

So that's the story.  



#10 Moving Target

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 05:17 AM

Look after yourself Scott.

 

My old Dad had heart trouble from his mid-fifties onwards but still made it to ninety.

 

At 51 my cholesterol is low, resting heart rate 55, BP normal for my age so i should be OK.  I never smoked and my weight is within bounds for my height and build.  Cycling helps.


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#11 Slim

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 08:54 AM

As I remember mentioning to you at the time Scott, Rick Wakeman had three heart attacks in his '20s and he's still going strong. I've never been overweight and haven't smoked since I was 20 (and that only amounted to a couple of ciggies in the pub). I used to drink immoderately but without actually trying to cut down, I find that I don't bother with it so much these days. I quite often go a couple of weeks without a drink and overall, most days I don't.

 

I was concerned by the abject lack of exercise in my life for a time, but prompted by a thread started here by Rob in January I now cycle all year round, about 50 miles a week (I'm aiming for 2112 miles this year by Dec 31st). Fortunately I can make it up the hills without too much effort now :)


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#12 Moving Target

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 12:10 PM

I was concerned by the abject lack of exercise in my life for a time, but prompted by a thread started here by Rob in January I now cycle all year round, about 50 miles a week (I'm aiming for 2112 miles this year by Dec 31st). Fortunately I can make it up the hills without too much effort now :)

 

 

Outstanding!  I set myself a target for each month for the year, and so far am a bit ahead of schedule for my 1000 mile target for 2015.

 

So there you go Scott. Get back on your bike!  If so advised by your doctors obvo.



#13 DarthLen

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 02:31 PM

Here (still) with ya; change that diet! I had a 99% blockage to the main artery a few years ago that required a stent. 

 

Still eat way too much pasta and not nearly enough meals throughout the day as I should, but not nearly as much fast food as I used to. 

Keep  doing the right things, Scott and be well! 


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#14 chemistry1973

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 03:23 PM

I've learned the hard way that it's what you eat that constitutes your health more than anything.

I love exercise but I love eating, hence the slow gradual weight gain I've had over 10 years. Inspiring post. I think I might just quit drinking and eating bad food for a bit.
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#15 Schmoo

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 03:13 AM

Outstanding!  I set myself a target for each month for the year, and so far am a bit ahead of schedule for my 1000 mile target for 2015.

 

So there you go Scott. Get back on your bike!  If so advised by your doctors obvo.

 

I didn't get on my bike again for about a year after the heart attack, but last summer I started adding bike rides into my exercise routine, which was a nice change of pace from walking every day.  I love walking, but it does get old when you do it day after day after day.  Biking is a way for me to change things up.  I also shoot basketball from time to time and of course do yard work every week.  This year I haven't biked as much because I got a flat tire the second or third time out and I have yet to get it repaired.  


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#16 Schmoo

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 03:17 AM

Here's a before and after shot.  The picture on the right was taken in January, 2013, about two months before my heart attack.  The picture on the left was taken in January, 2014, after I'd lost 50 pounds.  

 

Before+and+After+2.jpg


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#17 Moving Target

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Posted 26 August 2015 - 11:21 AM

I see you've joined the Illuminati.



#18 Schmoo

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Posted 30 August 2015 - 01:34 AM

Yes I have

#19 Always the Winner

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Posted 30 August 2015 - 01:50 AM

One of my wife's closest friends just lost her husband to heart failure. He died in his sleep, and in the morning as she was getting ready for work, she told the kids to jump on daddy to wake him up. What a horrible way to find out. He was only a few months older than me.

I could lose about 30 pounds. I was on track until my arthritis got out of control making it impossible to exercise in the morning.

Hey...where's Perry?


#20 SJS

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Posted 30 August 2015 - 02:29 AM

First time reading this thread.  Wow, that is quite a story.  Glad to see you are taking measures to improve your health.  Great job so far and keep it up!


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