Dec 3
rctorres , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Scared, Sad And Yet Strangely Optimistic

Hello Everyone. My name is Ron, I am 38 years old and I am a heart attack survivor. I have read several posts and books of individuals having their heart attack 50 years and older; however, here I am in my late 30's.

I am married with a 5-year-old son. They are the world to me, and I am scared out of my mind at the thought that I may not be there one day for them. My goal in life, is to focus on a new life style and do what I need to do to achieve that milestone. 

Some background information - after high school, undergraduate, and graduate school I began gaining weight. When I was 33, I weighed in at 315lbs. My height is 5'10"; however, I have a medium build which masks my weight and only makes me look chubby. Regardless, I embarked on a mission and for a few years I began to watch my intake and worked out 5 days a week. I managed to lose 47.5 lbs. In February of this year, I began to lose motivation and over the course of the next 8 months I managed to gain 20 lbs. back. 

I have a stressful job as a Sr. Director for a SaaS company; however, I have always enjoyed anxiety and stress as this is what has helped fuel me to ensure I am successful in my role. Early this November, my wife and I embarked on the next chapter in our life where we purchased a home. On November 15th, while attending a company dinner I noticed that my heart began to race. My thoughts were that it must be a reaction to a couple of mixed drinks I had earlier - as the night progressed I noticed my heart rate was elevated and when I got home it remained that way and so I decided to lay down. I woke up one time feeling as if my heart was about to jump out of my chest, but I got up, drank some cold water, took an aspirin and went back to bed. 

Over the next few days, I found that I would have up and down episodes. These episodes are hard to explain, but they simply felt as if I had high anxiety - and the anxiety was building within the center of my chest. At times, the feeling of the anxiety turned to a "tickle." Yeah, I know what you're saying - a "tickle?" Yes, it felt as if a feather was running across my chest. Again - I thought nothing of it. During a break, I decided to take a walk around the block and as I did this I noticed I was losing my breath as soon as I got out the door! Again - I thought nothing of it and chalked it up to being tired and feeling under the weather. Besides, several employees at work were ill; therefore, I felt that it may be that I was just coming down with something.

It was not until that Saturday (a full 4 days after the initial symptoms) that I began to think it was my heart. But I only did so after receiving word from my primary care doctors staff that my doctor had passed away. I then immediately thought of my grandfather whom I heard had passed away at the age of 33 with a massive heart attack that I began to worry. Throughout the morning, I was feeling better and as I took my son with me to run some errands, on the way back home he fell asleep. As I pulled into the garage, I lifted him and took him into the home. This was a bit of a monumental effort and as soon as I got him through the doors I called my wife over and told her that something was wrong, and that I think it was my heart. I immediately went to the hospital - they took me in right away, my blood pressure was slightly elevated, and my EKG was all normal. They had me sit back outside until a nurse could draw my blood. After an hour wait, I was pulled in, my blood taken and then dismissed back into the lobby. 30 minutes later, the nurse came out and ushered me in, gave me 6 Tylenol pills to chew and the doctor visited with me right away. He said that my troponin levels were elevated to 1.875 and that it appears I may have had a cardiac event - they admitted me into the hospital right away.

A day later I had an Echocardiogram and two days later they performed an Angiogram. The results showed that a small vessel at the end of an artery became 100% blocked. Due to the smallness of the vessel they were unable to clear it. The rest of the heart appeared to be strong, and there was mild plaque buildup (less than 20%) on some other arteries.

My cardiologist confirmed the heart attack and mentioned that it occurred, thankfully, in a less critical part of the heart which caused no further debilitation. This was a warning sign that I must take heed in. They assigned me Lipitor, Lopressor, and Aspirin and said that I will need to change my life style and that I need to lose the weight and get my cholesterol in check. Feeling confident, I acknowledged to my doctor that I am aware of what needs to happen and that I will adapt to ensure I am successful. I asked if what occurred to me will impact the longevity of my life and I was told "no" - that I can live a very long life if I take the proper measures and stay the course of a healthy lifestyle. 

After reading several books, and speaking with several doctors, I decided on a Mediterranean diet. I emphasize "diet" as I no longer look at it that way - I am looking at it as a life style. When I exercised in the past I wanted to do it - now, there is a need. There is a difference - and one that I know I will continue to acknowledge to keep me motivated moving forward. 

I am scared this has happened to me, I am sad for my family to experience the pain and anxiety of watching someone they love go through this, yet I am strangely optimistic. This is indeed a wakeup call and a second chance at life - and one I am not willing to back down on. If I don’t change my ways, then I am being selfish and I am forgetting my family - especially my son who will need me as he develops and ages. I will be doing this for him.
For anyone else that has had the unfortunate circumstance of experiencing what I experienced please know you have someone that you can reach out to.

Although I am optimistic, I still feel scared. I read about the "silent heart attack" and I read that there is an increased risk of a major heart attack which keeps me up and thinking a lot at times. But, the doctor said that what I have going for me is my age and the fact that the attack occurred in a non-critical area of the heart. But still, I am concerned - and concerned I should be! A heart attack is a heart attack and a little piece of me died that day.

I will greatly appreciate it If anyone else can share a similar experience, and provide advice and/or guidance. If you are around my age and just want to have someone to chat with regarding your experience, feel free to reach-out. 

I wish you all heart health.

  • Mike Bailey
    Mike Bailey,
    Ron my son had the same happen to him. With his cardiac doctor he has committed to a healthy life (he was healthy up to his attack, jogging etc.). He is strong and doing well. He set up a plan and he has stayed with it. The best for you. Mike
  • mingo1
    I posted this for another person:::::Huge widow maker heart attack in 1993. Had a defibrillator within three months and have had many shocks over all these years, but very few after a series of ablations. I would advise to have the ablation. I have had four and they do not hurt and you are in and out of the hospital the same day or the next. Ablations are a strange electrical procedure with radio waves. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and not very invasive. It is amazing that a GOOD ELECTROCARDIOLIGIST can perform these procedures. My doctor has shown me print outs of what they see on the computer and where they ablated areas that caused the fibrillation. I had both atrial and ventricular. During the process, they may only do one ablation or in my case, many at the same time. As you noted, it is only around a 70% fix. However, they can do several without much stress on a person. I have not had any complications at all after these procedures and now feel it is like getting an oil change! 70% odds are really, really good odds. Be sure to get an electrophysiologist and not just a regular cardiac doctor. My heart attack was at age 45 and I am going strong. These ablations have been studied for many years and the computer images have become like being on a GPS unit. Amazing for sure and amazing results. Do not be afraid....just get it done (my feelings). My heart attack was silent also and had the same feathery feelings and sensations across my upper body. My doctor at the time told be to lose weight and take aspirin. He was only a GP. At one time even post attack I was around 380 lbs. and have got down to around 225 now. Still need to watch it as old age kicks in and losing weight is tough. I have had over 30 other major surgeries and am still kicking at age 68 with sons with wives, grand children and great grandchildren which all give me hope and a huge desire to be around for many years to come. I also have a wonderful and supportive wife that has been by my side over 37 years. I have a lot to live for and am not scared much at all (over time!). Both my grandfather and father had heart attacks, so I know it runs in the family. However....YOU...Live strong and you will be perfect soon.
  • Guitarbare
    Ron, Obviously this changed your outlook on life. You made changes in your lifestyle. Bravo ! You survived Now it's time to move forward. Advice don't live in fear my friend. That will cause immense stress. Do whatever you must to free yourself from stress. #1. Do what you love and the money will follow. 2. Stop worrying or being scared it solves nothing. ( just creates more stress ). 3. Have faith put your trust in God. That fact you're still here is a testament it wasn't your time. I recently lived thru the most severe heart attack possible a Widow Maker last month Oct 26. By the grace of God I was given a second chance at life. Yes I'm considerably older than you with 3 children and 5 grandchildren. Plus A wonderful beautiful wife. God saved me as he did you. Have faith my young friend. Death is a part of life. You can't change that so why worry it's a waste of life's energy. Focus your energy on your family and being happy and make each count. Your eyes have been opened at an early age. Enjoy the family and life around you. In the end it's only the love and memories we make that we can take with us. The rest is just stuff ...
  • YukonDenis0n
    I hope you find great health and great adventures in many years to come. My brother, a middle school science teacher, had similar symptoms. He keeps his appointments with his cardiologist and follows his doctor's advice. He also gets pneumonia too often! He did not listen to his wife until he got ill enough to babble. She called 911 who sent an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Your wife will be your standby caregiver. You are building your healthcare team. Include your wife in your team!
  • Jdcoggins
    Thanks for sharing.... I have been experiencing some discomfort and best site to follow up. I totally understand the masking of weight . I weight 250 at 5'10 but can't tell as much.
  • dwaynec
    Ron, 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
  • Raiz_Ali
    Ron you did great. "I have always enjoyed stess and anxiety" What a beautiful clause to be used here and thats exactly what I used to say. But I wonder every thing gets to its limits. Even our brains have some levels to which those can endure stress.Im 45 and I had heart attcak 10 days back. Till age of 35 I did excellent to cope with stresses but you know as the years passed by it became difficult to digest every thing causing stress. Btw Im a Lawyer relating to Civil Law and Real Estate Transactions here in Pakistan. I was thinking to change my profession since last 2 or 3 years or so but somehow I did not. Yes, to be worried is a natural thing but you have done good and surely if you observe your diet , keep a check upon your weight, make your cholestrol levels within limits you will just be fine for all your next coming 6/7/8 decades, whatever. Wish you and your family best days of your life ahead.
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