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Former heart attack victim going in for a cardiac catheter procedure and a bit frightened.
I’m having a lot of trouble dealing with what I’m going through right now.
The story goes like this in a nutshell – heart attack at 41 years of age in 2004. I flat lined at the hospital, they revived and shipped me to Baylor in downtown Dallas. A stent was put in and a cardiologist was assigned. The cardiologist was five minutes from my house. After seeing him for a short time I started seeing the cardiologist that took care of me at Baylor. The reason is I didn’t feel I was getting any real care from the local cardiologist. Five minutes in and out of the patient room was all I could get out of him. Over the next few years I did very well with my Baylor cardiologist. Her staff was something to be desired, and it was almost an hours drive to Baylor from my home. Eventually this got somewhat old. I went back to the same facility of the prior cardiologist, but asked for a different cardiologist. The new cardiologist was better than my first, but still not even close to as good as my Baylor cardiologist. Still, he was close by which made it nice. Over the next few years though, his attitude turned into what my first cardiologists was – 5 minutes in and out for each time I saw him. I simply stopped seeing any cardiologist at all. Eventually my prescriptions were no longer able to be renewed so back I went to him. In our first appointment in a long time, he asked a few questions and that’s about it. I asked, should we do a stress test? He looked at me and then shuffled through my chart and said, yes that would be a good idea. I had a sonar/echo done as well as a chemical stress test. I couldn’t do a running stress test (though my last one was 14 minutes many years prior) because my knees have osteoarthritis. The stress test came back with not so good news. He said the left side of my heart had weekend. He put me on a medication that I had never heard of (Carvedilol) a beta blocker. First at 6.25mg twice a day, then to 12.5, then to 25mg. Within several months of going to 25mg I developed a thump in my chest every once in a while at first, but then go to be doing this two or three times a minute. I even made an emergency visit to the hospital because it got so bad. They told me it was normal – yeah, right, normal. Someone dropped an appointment with my cardiologist and I was able to talk to him in a couple of days after the emergency room visit. During that time I also read up on the side effects of Carvedilol. There are several out of the list that I was experiencing. When our appointment came around a couple days later I explained what I was feeling. This was a telephone visit. He only said he didn’t think the Carvedilol was a cause of the issue. Here’s the part I didn’t like at all – he didn’t say anything else, nothing. OK, if the Carvedilol isn’t the issue, should I come in so we can determine what the issue is? At that point I went home and looked up my Baylor cardiologist. She wasn’t going to be available until the end of April. After discussing the problem with a few people (one a nurse) I decided to cut the Carvedilol in half, back to 12.5mg twice a day. Amazingly, the thump issue started to diminish. Was I getting better? I made another telephone appointment with my cardiologist and told him what I had done. About this time I was also diagnosed with severe sleep apena (97 incidents on the average per hour) I would stop breathing. I told my cardiologist that I would like to see if my thump issue improved with the CPAP or if anything changed. He said sure, and I could drop the Carvedilol to 6.25mg twice a day if needed. I soon did drop the Carvedilol to that level. Slow heart rate (I average about 55 bpm), cold feet, fatigue, and many other side effects are associated with Carvedilol. The issue almost completely went away. I was still set on going back to my Baylor cardiologist. I called them again, and got lucky. A slot had opened for last Thursday. I went in and we had a 45 minute evaluation. She looked over my prior cardiologist’s notes and test results – with confusion. She wasn’t sure how he came to the conclusions he did.
Now here’s where it gets scary and why I’m writing this post. I’m now scheduled for a cardiac catheter this coming Friday (4/2/21). My Baylor cardiologist asked when was the last time my prior cardiologist had did a cardiac catheter and actually looked inside my heart? I asked what that was. She explained that a cardiac catheter is the same procedure they did when they put the stent in my heart. I was surprised and told her – never. The last time that my heart had been looked at from the inside like that was 18 years ago, when the stent was first put in. She again said she’s not sure how my prior cardiologist could come up with the conclusions that are in my medical file.
So now I’m scared, very scared. I know there’s a very low chance of any issues. I know there may be the need for another stent to be put in. The real scary part is that though the thumps have pretty much gone completely away under the 6.25mg twice daily of the Carvedilol, I now have afib, and sometimes it repeats itself 3 or 4 times per minute. The 6.25mg of Carvedilol twice a day are still keeping my heart from racing, but I never had afib before. I’ve read enough that tells me this isn’t a major issue yet, but it still scares me. I’m just not crazy about what all is going on. I wish I had never left my Baylor cardiologist. I wish I had listened to her more about losing weight and eating better. I’ve done both, but certainly not enough. I think the afib is more because of my frightened state of mind. Meditation and I was told to take 1000 to 2000mg of vitamin C to help, and those have both worked. Still, I’m really scared about this. I could use some prayers.
AHAModerator, March 30, 2021 5:31pm EST
Thank you for sharing your story with the Support Network. We are glad you are here and wishing you the best. We are so sorry to hear you have had such a journey with your cardiologist, heart attack, and medication experiences. We hope you can find a sense of community and support here as you go through this next chapter. Remember you are not alone in this.
While you wait for others to respond we can share some resources on Mental Health and Well-Being, Stress Management, and then just some general Heart Attack information, to help you get through this time.
Please keep us updated on how you are doing!
vancet, April 4, 2021 3:45am EST
Thanks for sharing Todd. We certainly wish you the best as you go through this scary time. You survived this long and catheter procedures have become quite safe nowadays from my understanding. At least with this procedure, they will have a better idea of what's going on. There are also non-invasive ways that are being explored nowadays. If you don't mind pausing and googling every few minutes initially as you get used to the medical terms, there's a pretty cool podcast called "Cardiac Consult" which is geared towards Healthcare Professionals. They go over the latest research and diagnostic techniques. All the best. I also hope you get your apnea controlled via cpap. I had to do this since we were running out of ways to pinpoint why I may have had a heart attack. Turns out I also have sleep apnea and although using the cpap was annoying and uncomfortable the first few weeks, I got used to it. It doesn't always give me a good night's sleep but it definitely has helped give me a less interrupted sleeping pattern. All the best and happy easter.
RC2021, April 9, 2021 8:47pm EST
How did everything go?