Mar 28
HeartAttacktto5K , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Silent Heart Attack/6 Stents Placed And 120 Days Later Run A 5K

 I hope to be an Ambassador for the AHA to share my story with others and help in anyway possible.

Everyone's story is slightly different although we all suffered a heart attack. We all have been fortunate to survive and some impacted harder than others during thier recovery. I feel fortunate that I'm here with a second chance at life.  I would say to those recovering; "Be Fearless" in your determination to regain your health.  I'll cavat that by saying don't start any exercise program without your doctors approval.

My Silent Heart Attack
            On 29 September 2016, I started my day at the factory as normal except I was out of breath and sweating goining upstairs. I’ve been running 5K and 10K races all year, so it was unusual for me to not be able to handle a few stairs. I went to the cafeteria and had a turkey sandwich for lunch.  Within 2 hours, I started to have stomach cramps, sweating, and thought to myself that the turkey I ate at lunch must have been bad. I was nauseas, had back pain, stomach pains.  I walked out of the factory and almost vomited twice on the way to the car. I walked dogs when I got home and had terrible stomach cramps that nearly brought me to my knees.  Then from 5 to 11PM; I had extreme back pain, nausea, stomach cramps, coughing, fatigued, vomited everything I had in my stomach up.  My blood pressure was highly dangerous levels 186/100.  I thought about the ER visit but decided they would just say its food poisoning and send me home to sleep it off. I fought through some intense pain in my back, not in my chest so I didn’t think it was a Heart Attack and finally passed out on my recliner for about 3 hours.  I worked the next day until I could not take the pain and fatigue anymore and went to the doctors. The doctor thought based on my story about the sandwich and the symptoms I had experienced food poisoning as well. My EKG reading was normal, but my blood pressure was still 172/100.  I was referred to a cardiologist because of my bad family history with heart attacks and I’ve been on blood pressure and cholesterol medicine for 15 years. One week later I was still feeling terrible, had hard time getting into the building and barely made it through the day. When I got home, I slept 12 to 14 hours so I could get enough energy for the next day. I did research on food poisoning and found information about something called the Silent Heart Attack. The symptoms are exactly the same as food poisoning, but instead of the normal chest pain the pains are felt somewhere else in the body, like my back pain.  I had an old back injury that flairs up in the cold, so I thought nothing unusual about the back pain.  
I saw a cardiologist 1 week later and told him what was still going on.  He recommended a stress test and I had to make it through another week before I could get an appointment. I took the stress test and the doctor stopped the test within the first 2 minutes. My EKG was going crazy, so I was injected with drugs to simulate the heart under stress then they take pictures to examine blood flow in your arteries. It was three weeks by the time the nurse called me back to give me the test results. She confirmed that the reading showed I had signs of already having a heart attack. The doctor’s advice was to take a baby aspirin each day, exercise more and lose some weight. I still felt completely worn out and knew that my suspected food poisoning was when I actually had the Silent Heart Attack. I called the doctor back and set up an appointment in the next two days so we can review the results in person.  I explained that I thought the Silent Heart Attack happened on 29th and three weeks later I still have not recovered any of my strength. He brought in a cardiac surgeon to hear my story and check the results. Based on how I felt and my poor family, the surgeon agreed it would be good to do a cardiac catheterization to see if I had any blockage in my arteries. Finally, 4 weeks after my event they went into the heart trough a vein in my leg to look around. I opted to stay awake during the procedure which was not painful. The doctor said we have a lot of work to do in here and explained that one of my arteries was 100% blocked and he was amazed I survived 30 days with a blockage that normally kills most of the time. He found 5 other areas of my arteries that where 80% blocked.  I was literally running on empty and didn’t realize it at all. It took two surgeries and 6 Stents placed in my arteries to clear up the blockages. Normally, when an area is 100% blocked for more than 24 hours the heart muscle is irreversibly damaged. Miraculously, I had no permanent heart muscle damage because my immune system fed the muscle for 30 days (Rare Cases) he said they have no explaination for this miricale and Luckily, I should be able to make a full recovery! I made many mistakes in my life that lead to my Heart Attack.

My Heart Attack was my Fault
            I’m 100% responsible for my heart attack, it was not an unfortunate accident. Yes, I can blame some on my family history. But, I was fully aware of my family history, risks, and precautions I should take. I took meds, so I could eat what I wanted (Not smart for a highly educated man) I chose to eat bad food, drink too much, and fluctuate up and down in weight.  My body gave me a lot of warning signs leading up to my heart attack that I chose to ignore or blame on other symptoms. Starting in January 2016, I was sick once a month, when I was normally sick only once a year. I hacked up every morning like a smoker and I’ve never smoked. I had diarrhea and stomach issues for the entire year. I blamed food and drinking when I should have gone to the doctor. I saw an allergist about sinus, coughing, and breathing issues, but found out I have no allergies. I thought everything else but I did not believe I would be having heart issues.  You can’t run 3 miles and have heart issues right? Wrong!

5K in 120 Days
Today is my 180th Day of my Heart Attack recovery...within 2 weeks of my last surgery, my surgeon cleared me to exercise without restrictions and told me to listen to my body. I chose to make my own routine of walking, running, eating right and getting better nights sleep to gain strength.  120 days later I ran/walked my 1st 5K in 34:33 a full 2 minutes faster than I did pre-heart attack.  I just finished my 3rd of 2017 5K on March 26th in 31:40.  Switching to a primarily Vegan diet, I've dropped 4 pant sizes, two shirt sizes, and I'm getting stronger, faster, and lighter.  My goal is to be much stronger incase I have to fight for my life again and help warn others I work with to take action on thier health before they end up in a position like me where my life depends on staying healthy now!
Thanks Joe
  • JamesPL
    Wow! Miracle you're still here! Your story was amazing and inspiring as well. Glad you are able to get back into running. I can relate. I too am a runner and was shocked when told of all the blockages I had in my arteries. I didn't have any family history. When they showed me all the repairs they did to my heart, I was stunned and explained that six months prior I had run a ten mile race and felt great. I asked how I survived that and was told I was very lucky. I was also told that the heart grows extra capillaries to try and compensate for limited blood flow. The human body is amazing. Good luck with your running.
  • Arnettmohr
    So glad to hear your story. And so glad you're OK given the delay in treatment. please be a vocal advocate. I, too was an untraditional candidate for a widow maker. I was 44, active, runner, low cholesterol and BP - when people hear my story, it helps to spread the message that you need to listen to your body.. you KNOW when something is not right. Demand care. I had only hours to love and immediatel help saved my life. May others be so lucky as us!!
  • kelly duck
    kelly duck,
    This is such a miracle. My story almost matches yours except for a couple little details. My blood pressure is not high and I do not vomit or sweat. My doctor's do nothing for me, I have been taking Digoxin for about 6 years and the blood test show my Digoxin level as low but they just ignore it. I have a family history like yours as well and I am pretty sure I am inheriting it. I am so glad you found someone that took time to listen to you and help you. Stay strong and one day if a doctor ever offers to help me by at least testing me to make sure My heart is ok maybe I could run a marathon as well but as for now no way I am way to tired and I would be afraid of having a heart attack. Thanks for sharing your story.
  • AHA/ASA Sarah Ismail
    AHA/ASA Sarah Ismail,
    Thank you for sharing your story with us! We all look to people like you to remind us to stay strong and positive. Wishing you all the best, Sarah
  • nilesh
    it,s good to clear all things by sharing your experience to others or family or friends it,s help you do make clear vision for you & others for what to do when such problem happen thanks
  • mamalyss
    Your story is inspiring. I hope that through all of our personal stories, we get the word out about these "silent heart attacks." I had no idea they even existed until I was told about mine in January, 2017. Keep running...!
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