Heart attack at 55
(New Jersey, USA)
I had a heart attack in Nov-2009. I was on vacation that day. Since the past one month before that, I used to have some chest pain when I exercised or climbed stairs. I stupidly ignored them. When I woke up at around 6 AM on that day in Nov-2009, I had what felt like a severe case of aciditiy with some mild chest pain right in the middle of the chest behind the central rib bone. There was a lot of anxiety but none of the classic symtoms like pain in left hand or sweating. I told my wife to drive me to my primary care physician. I never thought of going to the emergency room because I was in denial ("this is just acidity"). My PCP, when he heard 'chest pain' immediately ordered an electro cardiogram (EKG) to be taken. As soon as he saw the EKG I saw him running around asking 'when did the pain start?" etc. In no time there were four assistants in the room, an oxygen mask was placed on my face, I was give a nitroglycerin and aspirin tablet and taken in an ambulance to the emergency room. The paramedics in the ambulance were already on the phone with the attending cardiologist and I heard him order a heparin (clot buster) injection which they gave me. Within minutes I was painless and feeling fine. I was rushed to
the cath lab where I was quickly prepared for angioplasty. The angiogram showed that my LAD (left anterior descending) coronary artery was 100% blocked with a clot. This is a major artery. The cardio had to clear the clot and put in five stents to open up this block and another longer one further down the artery.
Later the cardiologist visited me in the ICU and told me that the blockage was 100% and was there for at least 24 hours (because the clot was hard) therefore he suspected substatial heart muscle damage. But later the echo cardiogram showed NO DAMAGE to heart muscle at all. Cardio did not believe the echo and ordered it again. Once again it showed no damage. My PCP says that I probably have sufficient collateral blood supply so that even a completely blocked LAD did not result in heart muscle damage. He attributed this to my practice of yoga and exercise. I am one of those lucky ones I would say. The LAD is often nicknamed the 'widow maker artery'. Today I have to handle the fear which is very common after a heart attack. Every twitch makes one ask 'is it coming again?". Anyway I notice that time surely heals this fear and now after six months or so I feel less scared and more thankful for a second lease of life. I practice a lot of yoga and meditation.
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