I Thought It Was All in My Mind

by Lianne
(Atlanta, GA USA)

I had high cholesterol for at least 15 years, ranging from 300 to 500. I developed a fatty liver during that time that didn't like statins and never felt comfortable taking them, so even though my husband had an emergency double bypass at age 43 and two stents in the next several years, I didn't take any meds myself. I always said, "I'm a tank. It's only numbers."

Instead, I tried numerous diets and even managed to reverse my type 2 diabetes through one of them but my cholesterol kept coming up for discussion at every doctor's visit. I took it seriously but stayed on the cautious side with a protective eye on my liver.

About 6 months ago I decided to start exercising. In my mid-50's, it seemed wise to use a heart monitor. That's when I realized when my heart rate got upto 135, I felt a pulling in my jaw and at 140 my chest got a bad, crushing feeling. When I mentioned that casually to my doctor at one visit he said I might want to get a calcium score of my heart. The test showed a very low number, so neither of us were very concerned about my future.

My resting heart rate went to over 100 most of the time and my blood pressure started to rise over the next several months. Finally, I was doing yard work early one morning last week and felt a crushing pain in my left shoulder. Sweat ran down my face and I heaved for breath. My pulse and BP were about 50 points higher than normal and they didn't come down for a long time. I phoned the doc right away and they fit me in. My resting EKG was normal. He said, "I don't know what to make of you." I left with blood pressure meds and an antacid.

Two days later the same thing happened with even less effort. I put in a call for my doctor but thought it must be mental because nothing was wrong the last time. That's when my husband said he wanted me to call his cardiologist instead.

They recommended I go to the ER but the day was busy and when I wasn't doing heavy work it didn't seem like anything was wrong, so I did several loads of laundry and made sure my daughter got to her dentist's appointment, then had one of the kids drive me by the hospital. I told them I'd probably be back out in a few hours.

The nurse at the front desk even commented about how healthy I looked for a "chest pain" complaint, but we went back anyway. I was surprised when they told me I'd be there overnight for observation with a cardiac cath in the morning!

I was even more surprised when the doctor told me I had been 95% blocked in an artery he called "the widowmaker." He said if I had done a stress test I would have had a heart attack, but instead I got a stent and I'm home now, trying to find my new version of normal. The heart scan I had several months before only showed hard plaque and this was a pocket of soft plaque, which can be just as deadly.

I have some questions of my own about heart health and will go to cardiac rehab in a few weeks. My heart suffered no damages, but I still have CAD. Now my hubby and I watch out for each other. I was very lucky.

Life is a gift. I will use it wisely.

Comments for I Thought It Was All in My Mind

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not in your mind!
by: Anonymous

hi lianne... first of all just want to say my sisters live down in atlanta too! i'm in new york.
i am just like you...a "tank". i currently have high blood pressure and high cholesterol and triglycerides. i am on meds for both...alot of meds...but each time i go to the cardiologist...he ends up adding or changing my meds because nothing ever changes. i have sinus tachycardia, 2 different arrythmias and my resting H/b is always over 100. he ran all the usual cardiac tests...stress, echo. numerous ekgs...and always tells me i'm ok. i have had several occasions of passing out, numbness from my neck down into my left arm..but i can't really say i've had chest "pains"...what i get along with the sweating, dizziness and left arm numbness is a recurring "twinge" or pressure feeling in my left chest area..;sometimes it's stronger sometimes it's not. it always lasts around 10 minutes and if i sit still or lie down... it subsides. so who knows what's going on. the cardiologist at one time wanted to do an angiogram but i said "no...i'm a rock"...and he really hasn't pressured me about it. maybe i do have blockages...but i don't know. by the way.. i am 60 yrs old and have had the high blood pressure and high cholesterol for over 20 years.

now on the other hand... my brother in law was having routine test done to get the ok to have knee surgery and lo and behold... he "failed" his tests , went in for a cath, the assumed he'd need a stent but once in, they rushed him in for a quintuple(5) bypass surgery...with most or all 5 arteries just about 100% blocked!!!! he never had a chest pain or high blood pressure or anything. so had he not been having these routine pre op tests.. he might have had a major heart attack or worse!!!! he is doing fine now... long recovery, but coming along nicely. so it just shows ...you never know!!!!

keep the healthy lifestyle changes.. do the re hab and good luck to you!!

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