Monday, July 5, 2010

Know the Signs

Hi fellow bloggies, It's been five weeks since my heart attack and I'm doing great. Yesterday was the first time I walked around Washburn's Campus. It's a 2 1/2 mile walk. The first mile was easy, the second I felt like I was working and that last half was hard. I possibly shouldn't do it during the blazing heat on a day with high humidity. But I'm alive and very thankful for that.

The cardiologist said that the heart muscle was strong from all the exercise and that is why I am alive. The occlusion was in the LAD (lower anterior descending) artery which is also known as the widowmaker. It was in the proximal portion which means it was at the top and more of the heart was exposed the the ischemia (lack of blood flow and therefore oxygen). I was in the CCU for 24 hours and then in a regular room for 2 days. I am in cardiac rehab 3 mornings a week. While there I walk 17 laps on a track (which is a mile and boring), then I do 7 minutes on a recumbent bike, 12 minutes on the treadmill at 3% elevation, and 5 minutes on the arm ergometer. During all this I wear a heart monitor and my blood pressure is taken during every exercise. For those of you who are interested my BP goes down when I walk and up when I do the bike. They really don't want your heart rate to get into a good training range. They keep it about 130 bpm. Still, by the time I am finished I have worked up a good sweat. I don't have the stamina or energy I had before the cardiac episode and I may never have as much again but I can continue to add time and distance as I feel fit.

Over the last year I lost 70 lbs, walked for an hour or more a day, climbed to the 7th floor on the days I worked, practiced yoga several times a week, and ate mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. I was doing all the right things and still it happened. The doc said it was my genetics. On my Mom's side everyone is healthy and living into the 90's but on my Dad's side everyone died young from heart disease. My Dad was 53 when he died and he had already had several major heart attacks. My younger brother was 46 and he had already had two.

I am alive because I recognized the signs and got myself to the emergency room quickly. If you think there is ANY chance that your symptoms may be heart related do not wait. Get yourself to an ER. Better to be a little embarrassed than be dead. You can read about the signs and symptoms at this site American Heart Association.


  1. Welcome back and congrats on your recovery!!! Keep up the good work.

  2. Johanna, thank you for sharing this story. it really is inspirational and informative. you are going to recover fully and be healthier and fitter individual. keep up the good work.....we are here for you!