Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some thoughts...

I have learned about heart attacks, obviously. That it kills people is widely known. We all know that. People who are overweight and exercise little are susceptible to heart disease. We know that too. What we may not know is – people who get plenty of exercise, who are out climbing often, who ski and snowboard, also die from heart attacks.

 After falling unconscious onto my kitchen floor, I woke with 5 stents in two of my coronary arteries that feed blood to my heart. This was a potential fatal, life threatening condition. You've all heard about a star athlete who is on the field and drops dead of a heart attack, or some climber you have heard of .....is BOOM, gone.

This is what the experts say about Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD), "..a swift and unexpected death caused by a heart condition, which may or may not be obvious. SCD varies in its range of definition. Usually, though, it applies to a situation where the person, who was thought to be free of heart disease, suddenly dies. The reference goes on to say, "the first symptom of the disease is sudden death."

 Interviews with family of the victims usually reveal some angina (chest discomfort or tightness), or heart irregularity, and/or shortness of breath, and worsening of the symptoms over a few days or a few hours before sudden collapse and death in 75% of these people. That was me, heart irregularity. Some of these symptoms may even be self-diagnosed by the victims as indigestion, fatigue, muscle pains, or depression. Self-denial (of symptoms) (also me) makes this condition treacherous. Anyone with any of these symptoms should consult their physicians without delay." This can and does happen to anyone.

But it will cost money to go get checked out you whine……… Not  nearly as much as my total bill of + $150,000…. and I was one of the lucky few who survived. Let me repeat myself. One of the lucky few who survived.

How lucky was I? Imagine if this had happened when my wife was not home. Or that I was asleep in my bed. Hiking on the mountain. I could have been anywhere -  where help was not available as fast. And it has to be fast. 15 to 20 minutes? Too long. 1 to 3 minutes is about all you have. That is a very small window. That is where I was fortunate. They got to me very fast. I was lucky.

 Now that I am back to normal (yeah I know, I will never be normal again), I will leave these thoughts with you, and shut up about it already. Think about what I said here and see if it might apply to you, or someone you love. If it does, then do something about it. Now.

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