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Just diagnosed with Reduced Ejection Fraction
A few weeks ago I had blood tests when applying for a life insurance policy. The NT-Pro BNP came in at 676: the high end of the range is 124. Was sent for an echocardiogram, even though my doctor and I both agreed that I don't look like I have heart problems and the test was a fluke. The echocardiogram says I have a reduced EF of 40 and I should be at 60. I have an appointment with a cardiologist, but not until early December. I'm not sure how I feel about all of this - for the most part I am healthy, although I am receiving care for digestive issues and have been told I will need surgery for this. My father had a heart transplant quite a few years ago, so there is a history of his and other heart issues in my family. I eat fairly well, am at a decent weight. I am 61 years old and liking life. So what advice to you have for me until I see the cardiologist? I plan on trying to get in sooner on a cancellation list. I know the Reduced EF is not horrible, but this is playing with my mind!
AHAASAKatie, October 22, 2019 9:43am EST
Good morning, I am so sorry that you are having to experience this. I can share the information we have on heart failure with you. Nothing is worse than the waiting piece. Please know that we are here to help you during this time. Best Katie
AuntP1, October 22, 2019 8:07pm EST
Thank you. It helps finding this site and forum. I have read through the information now and already feel a bit better prepared.
JamesPL, October 23, 2019 8:03am EST
Your anxiety is certainly understandable and would affect anyone who has been told of low EF numbers. I had to wait a week after being told I needed surgery before it actually happened and it was the only thing on my mind. The good news is your doctor doesn't believe you have a heart problem. The best advise I could give is to try and remain as calm as possible. My experience has been that when someone is told of a potential problem pending seeing a specialist, the problem is not what was originally thought or something that is easily treated. Trying to get in to see your cardiologist sooner is good idea and I wish you luck with that. It's also a good sign that if they can wait to see you that long, whatever your condition might be, it is not urgent.
I wish you the best!
jerzeycate, October 25, 2019 12:44am EST
The first thing to remember is to breathe...As James said it's a good sign that your appointment was scheduled for December. The more serious the identified problem, the quicker the appointment.
Numbers, Numbers, Numbers... I have some for you. I became acutely ill after a virus (CoxsackieB) invaded my heart and decimated the cardiac electrical system leaving me with an EF of 11%, a prognosis of "without an immediate transplant she has 3-months" a Pro BNP level above 1,000, CHF/DCM/Kidney Failure/COPD and a host of other issues that occur when the body is not getting properly oxygenated blood. The initial doctor's treatment plan (as said to my husband when he asked the doctor "What do you recommend") was simple. "Take her home. Make her comfortable. Get her affairs in order." I was 54 years old. That doctor was fired immediately.
The doctors implanted a then-experimental complex cardiac device to buy more time as they searched for answers. BTW I was Not Eligible for a transplant. The device, combined with medications, and lifestyle changes, enabled my heart to begin to recover. My ProBNP went down to 49, my EF went up to 65%, CHF in remission, DCM--as of this year all signs are gone, Kidney function returned to normal with no residual effects, COPD returned to lifelong symptoms of asthma. The most important number of all--it's going on 7 years since I was told I had 3 months to live.
So, my best recommendation would be that you find ways to address the stress you are under including making dietary and other lifestyle changes necessary for improving heart health (cutting back salt/sodium as much as possible). There really is not much else you can do. I usually recommend that patients learn as much as they can about their disease/disorder. In your case, you have not yet received a diagnosis. That process may not be over. To research symptoms separately will be overwhelming and may make it more difficult for you once you get a full diagnosis.
It's a very stressful situation, having cardiac issues that is, especially in early diagnosis. As you get a diagnosis and learn more about what ails you and how to improve your health you will begin to feel more comfortable with life. I ask you to remember something that my primary cardio always says..."It's not always about the numbers. It's about how you feel. It's about what you can do." There are people who have pretty good numbers who are far sicker than people who have numbers like those I had at the time of my diagnosis. So, don't get hung up on the numbers... And Breathe.
Please keep in touch. Let us know how you are feeling. How you make out at the doctors. It there's anything else we can help with, please let us know.
It's A Great Day To Be Alive.
AuntP1, October 27, 2019 11:22pm EST
Thank you. I will let you know what is said after my appointment.