Dec 4
vbravdica , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

First A Stroke, Then A Heart Attack. What's Next?

February 21, 2008, at 49 years old, I suffered a TIA. My experience was very scary to say the least. I totally lost my vision, balance and was unable to speak. It began at work and worsened as the evening progressed.
July 25, 2016, at 57 years old, I suffered a Widow Maker with 100% blockage of the LAD.
Now I take more pills than I had ever thought I would.
Here's the hardest part of all of this; I have been an athlete my entire life/ In middle school through high school I played Baseball, Football and Basketball. I Boxed through my days in the military, and when I finished playing the game, I began officiating it and work my state High School leagues for the past 29 years, College leagues for the past 5 years, and even have worked Semi Professional ball recently. I spend hours weekly in a gym, am in better condition than some of the athletes I work with on the fields and courts, and somehow ended up as my life's hystory has given me.
Here's what I have to say about that...WTF!
I have never been over weight, have a great diet, and as I said before, am in fantastic condition.

When I experienced the TIA, my doctors said I needed to eat better. When I discussed my diet with them, they said I shouldn't smoke. I don't! So they said I should maybe exercise more. I discussed with them my routine. Their response was this, "Well, that's probably the main reason you survived this so well."
When I experienced my Heart Attack I got a stent and my doctors said I needed to eat better. When I discussed my diet with them, they said I shouldn't smoke. I don't! So they said I should maybe exercise more. I discussed with them my routine. Their response was this, "Well, that's probably the main reason you survived this so well."

I look at things this way instead. I now have 3 birthdays. The day I was born 9/2/58, 2/21/08 and 7/25/16. I believe I am a cat, metephorically, and still have 4 lives left. At the rate I am using them, I will be done at the ripe age of 80.

Was I scared each time? YES. Do I still have concerns? YES. Do they control my life? EVERY MINUTE. Have I changed the way I do things? NOT AT ALL. Here's why; My TIA was caused by a PFO in my heart, and my family has a history of Cengenital Heart Disease. Seems I have no options but to live on the best way I know how.
Here's my only problems right now. Prior to my TIA, I used to get migraine headaches. I am once again getting them, and this time more frequently than before. Does this mean I should expect another stroke soon? Then, I never used to get heartburn, but had an episode that lasted a couple of days, so I went to an emergency room to get it checked (thought I was having another heart attack). It was indegestion. Now I ended up slightly embarrassed by being over critical of it. You all know what I am talking about.

That is my story. I do live life every day like there is no tomorrow, and it scares my family more than it does me because they feel I am wreckless. I feel I am alive.
  • Laru1970
    Wow. My story is not nearly as dire but I totally relate to the fear. It's all still very new for me. Had my event just 2 weeks ago. 5 total stents in two different arteries including the widowmaker where I had 99% blockage. Still have 50% in another area of this same artery. I'm only 46 years old with a lot to live for. Never a smoker. Not a drinker. Not diabetic. Cholesterol a little high but not outrageous. I am about 25lbs over weight and can eat better and increase my exercise without a doubt. Already been doing so since the day I got home. But, like you it sounds like it's a constant battle against our genetics. I am trying but can't envision myself being a vegetarian for the rest of my life but I'm literally afraid to even eat any chicken, turkey or fish. Red meat is of course never going to happen. I feel like a prisoner with a ticking time bomb in my chest. How do you ever get past this??
  • GSergent
    I was 42 when the stroke occurred, ended up in the ER of hospital close to work then transferred to one closer home. It was all confirmed and I had lost some reflexes on my left side. Immediately doctors, therapists everyone I came in contact with started recommending disability! My response, your crazy, I can still walk and breath, nothing wrong with my mind! I have always been into sports in school and competitive softball until I was 50. At 54 I experienced heart attack, MI it was called then, I was rushed to local hospital and medflighted to a larger facility. No pain just slight pressure in my chest and so very weak. I was never scared until the chopper banked when landing and I could see the ground. At least eight folks in scrubs waiting for me, DAMN! This was serious, I got four stents, LAD 95% blocked and the others 90%. In recovery and rehab again, I keep thinking and asking why me? Never smoked, balanced diet, not overweight and very active! Again from doctors and therapists, you should consider disability. My response after rehab I felt better than before might get a second job and I did, started making golf clubs as a hobby and it took off, made 20 sets the second year. I missed two weeks work and went to rehab in the afternoons. My cholesterol has been borderline high all my life, tried all the statins at that time but they affected my liver and could not take, another doctor got involved and put me on a strict veggie diet for six months, cholesterol was supposed to come down, it went up slightly. My body make too much cholesterol, no matter the diet, inherited. Was put on 1500 mg od Niacin for 16 years, did fine, on a new statin once a day now and cholesterol in check. The rest of the story, not done yet, retied at 68 to care for wife, early onset dementia, I miss work! Last December I passed out, went to ER and it was discovered I had an irregular heart beat. After teats and three opinions I now have a pacemaker, they call it bradycardia! I stay concerned and alert all the time, to diet and getting enough exercise, I will soon be 70. All the health problems have been inherited, it's in the genes, can't do much about that. Keeping as healthy as I can with what I control and thankful we have the medical knowledge there is today. On my mothers side, mom died at 46, her sister at 62 and a brother at 65, her parents also died young. I still go hard as possible every day, stopping is not an option, I have seen what that does to people.
  • ActiveLarry
    I exercised my whole life, too, and thought I ate pretty well. Read my Story of Survival. Most of my current cardiac blood flow is up the artery trees, not down. I suspect that like me, you did not know about EPCs, paraoxonase, or the real value of antioxidants in the diet. In the gym, you likely go too long, too hard, and do not always warm up. Because of the value of CERTAIN foods over others, doctors hesitate to recommend anything in case it does not work. Warm up gradually. If you get out of breath, you work too hard. Too hard, you pump, CO2 in your arteries. Bad News. Plus too hard exercise raises blood pressure, which can bring on blockage sites. Your HDL may be dysfunctional. Your LDL oxidized. Learn more, as I had to. Larry I survived, eat far better now, and have fun exercising. There are no healthy fats in our condition. NO alcohol. I have a toolbox worth of foods and exercise habits all different than before.
  • vbravdica
    Larry, I have an good understanding of what you are outlining. I do a 30 minute warmup before the exercise beginning with a slow walk and ending with a brisk walk It finishes with about a mile and a half before starting. I do similarly before a football game, but take it to a jog after the first quarter mile. Never to the point of being out of breath, but enough to gather a light sweat.. I'd love to learn more about the diet limitation you have established for yourself. My issue in life (hereditary) is the HDL being too low. Have been on a Statin since 2007. Reduced the dosage in 2008, and now it's at 80mg daily. Zero fats and under 1000mg of Sodium. Balanced my weight and started up back in the gym after one week of the Heart Attack for a light work out. Now I am at a full regiment again, and feel great.. I just think I can tweak the diet even better with someone else knowledge. I've now got more homework at to what are EPC's, and paraoxonase.
  • mingo1
    I also had a widow maker complete blockage in 1993. The rest of my heart was ok except that the attack screwed up the electrical system and I had to have a defibrillator put in. In 1993, they were as big as a small paperback book and in my abdomen (now they are small in under my clavicle). I played every sport in school. I played contact football from pee wee through college and a few years of pro. I then played 4-5 games of softball in A leagues a week. Then at age 45, a heart attack. It was hard to fathom. I was overweight at the time and that did not help. After about a year of worry, I just told myself that I had to go with life and do things that I did before. Sure, no marathons, no baseball, no hiking high places....but, I did everything else. Coached Little League for 15 years. Galloped around with sons at soccer games. Laid 20,000 lbs. of pavers for a nice back yard. I still have PVC's, but take them in stride. I have also had over 30 surgeries in my life and many after the attack. Severn hips replacements, two Achilles separations, rods/cages/screws in the back, name it. But, my heart stayed with me through all of this and I keep going on at age 68. My attack birthday goes by without me even thinking about it. I have a wonderful family support group and just LIVE STRONG. I know the heart attack jitters will go away in your case....I just know it will. Hang tough.
  • apatis
    HI friend, Hang in there. I had a similar stroke caused by a heart attack that damaged my LED that can't be fixed. however, I have recovered about 85% since my stroke and you can do it, too. See my story FIGHTING BACK. Keep fighting. al
  • dwaynec
    Have you tried Nitric Oxide therapy? The medical community is calling Nitric Oxide the miracle molecule! Along with lifestyle change it's helping people who suffer from cardio vascular disease. I do a health awareness webinar every Monday and Wednesday at 8 pm eastern to help fight CVD. Please feel free to join in on our next webinar this Monday or Wednesday by clicking this link: or you can dial in 712)770-4010 code 594427. Also check out "The Whole Heart Solution" by Dr. Joel Kahn MD. To Your Health!! Dwayne
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