Betsy Speicher

THE FORUM and My New Life

32 posts in this topic

Betsy,

I'm glad to hear the good news about your own situation!

I too have problems bequeathed to me by those on both sides of my family. I had one doctor call me a genetic garbage dump! (Bloody cheek!) I've already messed up all their prognostications. (I do what I can. :lol:) All anyone can do is live everyday to the full. I've been told to live everyday as though it were my last, but I think that's a bunch of hogwash. While I certainly enjoy every day, I live and plan for the future.

I wonder why they never say "Live every day as if it were your first"?

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One thing that worried me was that, like Stephen, I have a family history of heart disease. Stephen's careful attention to his diet and rigorous exercise program bought him 27 more years of life than his father had, but eventually heredity caught up with him. It wasn't until they did the angiogram in the hospital that we discovered his coronary arteries were clogged and calcified beyond repair despite his vigorous lifestyle and normal EKGs.
How could that be avoided in the future, excluding the 3d imaging software (which is... just amazing)? Shouldn't EKGs be front-line indication mechanisms of any problems? Shouldn't there be some kind of heartaches before something drastic happens? I don't know how this could've just happened like that.
I didn't want that kind of surprise. I consulted with the cardiologist at UCLA and my own internist and they suggested I have a new kind of dye-contrast CT angiography that gives a 3D image of the coronary arteries and a view of the heart in action. I did, and much to my relief, the results were very reassuring. A calcium score of under 10 indicates a less than 1% chance of a heart attack in the next 5 years and mine is only 3. The ejection fraction measures the ability of the heart to pump blood, with 55-70 being normal. Mine is a solid 68. The scan showed I have wide-open coronary arteries with absolutely no sign of soft plaque or any other obstruction or narrowing.
Betsy that's fantastic news! I'm extremely happy for you :lol:

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Shouldn't EKGs be front-line indication mechanisms of any problems? Shouldn't there be some kind of heartaches before something drastic happens? I don't know how this could've just happened like that.

An EKG measures the electrical activity in the cardiac muscle, such as where the "spark" that initiates a heart beat is located. While an EKG can show that a patient has, for instance, an enlarged heart (among other things), it will not indicate that there is a danger of coronary artery disease. There are other tests for that. Even when a patient has just suffered a heart attack, there may be no immediate indication in an EKG, unless the attack is severe. It is common to do blood tests to confirm that a heart attack has taken place. The extent of the damage done to the cardiac muscle, and where the damage has occurred, will show up within a day or so. There are many things an EKG can tell a specialist, but it certainly isn't all inclusive.

It is a good idea to have a normal EKG on record so that a comparison may be made if needed. Sometimes small changes can alert a good doctor.

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I read not long ago of a study done among a group of extremely old (centenarians I think) Ashkenzai Jews. They combed through diet, lifestyle, and blood samples. The net result is that there was only one common denominator among all of them: abnormally high HDL cholesterol levels. Some of these people had "terrible" eating habits supposedly. Some of the scientists doing the study decided to start trying to boost HDL levels in their own blood as a result. So, either pick your parents carefully or try to boost your HDL levels.

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Stephen's careful attention to his diet and rigorous exercise program bought him 27 more years of life than his father had, but eventually heredity caught up with him. It wasn't until they did the angiogram in the hospital that we discovered his coronary arteries were clogged and calcified beyond repair despite his vigorous lifestyle and normal EKGs.

Does that mean that a heart transplant would not have been enough after all?

I didn't want that kind of surprise. I consulted with the cardiologist at UCLA and my own internist and they suggested I have a new kind of dye-contrast CT angiography that gives a 3D image of the coronary arteries and a view of the heart in action.

Was that an invasive procedure?

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It wasn't until they did the angiogram in the hospital that we discovered his coronary arteries were clogged and calcified beyond repair despite his vigorous lifestyle and normal EKGs.

How could that be avoided in the future, excluding the 3d imaging software (which is... just amazing)? Shouldn't EKGs be front-line indication mechanisms of any problems?

Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't. In fact, while Stephen was in the Emergency Room having a heart attack, his EKG was still normal.

It was only a blood test that showed elevated levels of enzymes associated with heart damage that led them to do the angiogram. They told us Stephen might have a little blockage. Nobody expected three completely blocked coronary arteries.

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Stephen's careful attention to his diet and rigorous exercise program bought him 27 more years of life than his father had, but eventually heredity caught up with him. It wasn't until they did the angiogram in the hospital that we discovered his coronary arteries were clogged and calcified beyond repair despite his vigorous lifestyle and normal EKGs.

Does that mean that a heart transplant would not have been enough after all?

They immediatedly did a triple bypass to replace the coronary arteries and waited a while to see if his heart would recover. When it didn't, they suggested the transplant.

I didn't want that kind of surprise. I consulted with the cardiologist at UCLA and my own internist and they suggested I have a new kind of dye-contrast CT angiography that gives a 3D image of the coronary arteries and a view of the heart in action.

Was that an invasive procedure?

Not really unless you count the intravenous dye-contrast medium. Other than that, I just had to lie still in the CT scan machine for 10 seconds while holding my breath.

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