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DaMess, June 3,  2019  3:29pm EST

48, very healthy, almost died from 99% blocked LAD

Hopefully this helps someone. I was repetedly told I didn't have Angina or flow constrictions yet had a 99% blockage in the LAD (the widowmaker) and a 95% blockage in my circumflex. 

I thought i was a healthy 48yo male . I eat well (never fast food, red meat not more than 1x/month, mainly drink water) used to run marathons training up to 100 mile weeks, and was active in a masters field team up until 2yrs ago.

My angina symptoms started ~6 months ago in Dec. a moderate squeezing of the chest that abated after i stopped exposure to excercise. i had no sweats, no palpitations, and only on a few occasions pain going up the neck (but not after Jan). I had mostly given up alchohol 6 months earlier to fight high blood pressure with success. i was drinking during the month of Dec (1-2 drinks/night 4-5 nights/week). my BP did drop when i stopped drinking. My heart rate (HR) was normally around 60bpm, BMI was 26, cholesterol was moderatly high at ~220.  

I got an annual check-up in January (last one was 15 months earlier).  LDL and total cholesterol had spiked, which i attributed to my arteries being filled with egg nog. GP did an EKG and all was fine but he refered me onto a cardiologist. He suggested a cholesterol reducing drug but i thought i could lower it without meds via diet & exercise. i later learned my pencil thin grandmother was genetically predisposed to high cholesterol. 

Cardiologist found nothing concerning but convinced me to get a Cardiac Calcium Score which likely saved my life. It's quick and painless and only cost $100. It found i was in the 91st percential for my age/race in having calcium deposits on my arteries. I immediately went on Lipator. 

Next i went for a stress test. I was told i did well and there was no indication of flow restrictions though i was able to replicate my angina symptoms.

Cardiologist cleared me for a March ski trip in CO which went fine with no issues.  Only for perspective, i'm an aggressive, double diamond, former competitive mogul skier. i was more winded than usual, but thought that may relate to heavy snow falls/poor endurance. 

Upon return from CO, i aggressively watched what i ate and stopped all drinking (i had fewer than 10 drinks in 2019 at this time). i continued to have Angina symptoms though less frequently. i ran on the eliptical 6 days/week with 60min on Sat and 90min on Sun. (it's tough to run outdoors in my area).

One weekend, i had 3 angina attackes in a row, including while doing nothing on a couch. i called the cardiologist and a nurse told me i didn't have angina: neither my cardiac calcium score nor my stress test revealed flow restrictions. Further, she said, if i had angina, the episodes would last over a minute (which was not my case). 

In April, i followed up with my Cardiologist. he informed me that at my age, plaques could constrict blood flow but calcification of plaque may not yet have occured. He gave me NitroGlycerin to see if it releved the Angina symptoms. i had 2 episodes where the NG did aleve symptoms. 

30 days later, on Wed., i had a follow-up with the cardiologist. He was concerned enough that he suggested a heart cath. My insurance denied the procedure and so i scheduled a Cardiac CT scan instead. i was told if i have increased or unusual symptoms to go to an ER. NOTE: My BMI at this time was 25, BP 110/80, HR 55. 

Three days later i had a bad episode of angina with heart palpitations. NG helped. i had a light meal (caprese) and was watching TV when i got a 2nd attack 60 min later (also addressed by NG). My wife took me to the ER. 

Tests were done and they told me i was fine. EKG/heart/blood tests all came up negative. They held me overnight. In the AM, i saw a resident cardiologist who told me if i stayed in the hospital, i could likely get the heart cath on Tues (it was memorial day weekend). There was a long debate but i stayed. 

As i went in for my heart cath, i  was asked about my symptoms. When i used the word 'angina' i was told to be cautious, that it wasn't known if i even had Angina. 5 min into the procedure i was told i was lucky that i got in when i did. I received 2 stents in my LAD (99% blocked) and 1 in the LCX (95% blocked). 

Tomorrow will be the 1 week anniversary of my life-saving procedure. Had my LAD been fully blocked, i understand that i'd have 30 minutes to live. Had the insurance company had its way, i would have gone a full week without knowing about my blockages, potentially dying during this time. 

I was 90% sure this issue was in my head. i'm not glad that i was wrong, but i am so thankful i listened to my MDs and my body. This disease is called the silent killer for a reason. i felt 100% fine both the day before and the day after my proceedure. All the same, i was walking with a timebomb attached to my heart. 

Be safe. Listen to both your body and your MDs.  F insurance companies. 

3 Replies
  • DolphinWrite
    DolphinWrite, June 4,  2019  2:34am EST

    Everybody before health issues think they are healthy.  The body is a mysterious thing.  Foods, alcohol, the air we breathe, moderation, stress, genes, and I would imagine other factors affect us, but we may not know.  When we have health problems, then we have the opportunity to look at our lifestyles and how we handle life.  Sometimes, we miss the little things that add up over many years.  Most people just see the health problems, take the pills, make some adjustments, then have other health issues for which they take more pills.  ** I've noticed those over 100 years seem to have a pleasant, jovial, thoughtful and thankful way about them.  Take care. 

  • AHAASAKatie
    AHAASAKatie, June 4,  2019  8:25am EST

    Thank you for sharing your story with us! Best Katie

  • yarn007
    yarn007, June 27,  2019  8:39pm EST

    Thanks for sharing your story.   Wow, what a wild ride you have had.   Thank goodness you listen to your doctors and your body!  

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