I have debated for some time if I should create this post. I still have some anxiety thinking about how close I came to meeting the “Widow Maker”.
How close you ask?
I had a 98% blockage of the Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery.
My survival was a combination of luck, a great primary care physician strongly suggesting a tread mill stress test before flying out on vacation and having a great cardiologist, Dr. John Griffin.
Looking back I had some of the typical signs and symptoms, but being in EMS for almost 40 years, I felt like many of us in Police-Fire-EMS; that it happens to the civilians we deal with everyday, but not us.
I have two photos of my heart to share with you, but first just a little back ground information.
I had a 12 lead EKG in my primary care physicians office prior to the stress test and it was normal. I just didn’t feel well. So my PCP scheduled a tread mill stress test.
I flunked the tread mill stress test and afterwards my PCP suggested I contact a cardiac surgeon for a follow up. I met up with Doctor Griffin and had another 12 lead EKG and it was normal. Doctor Griffin scheduled a cath lab visit for 5 days down the road. No big deal. Boy, were we both in for a big surprise.
The first photo shows you what a 98% blockage of the Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery looks like prior to the insertion of a stent.
The second photo shows a fully open Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery after a stent is inserted.
I am doing well, on a few medications that have some weird side effects and I am in cardiac rehab.
Exercise is very important to me and goes a long way to keeping new cardiac problems from developing and helps with reducing stress and anxiety.
I am eating better and working on reducing stress. My wife is one of my biggest supporters and keeps me focused.
Career and volunteer public safety men and women have the biggest hearts in the world, but we suffer a higher number of cardiac related problems than most other groups.
Please take care of yourself.
Check out the heart photos below.