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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

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Old 08-13-09, 01:04 AM   #1
icyclist
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One Ride, Two Stents

On Sunday my mortality was reaffirmed, as I suffered what I knew was an agina attack.

I had ridden with the Los Angeles Wheelmen to make the climb to the Hollywood Sign, in the Santa Monica Mountains, high above Los Angeles. At the start of the climb, I began to feel chest pain. Slowing down didn't help, nor did speeding up.

I'd had similar pain a few weeks ago, cycling at about 8600 feet in Yosemite, but it went away after I slowed down. Although I knew I had perhaps a 70% blockage in a coronary artery, I had not, in the eight months since a mild heart attack, felt any chest pain. So I put the pain off on the effects of my age - 61 - and the altitude, and not on my heart.

Last week, mentioning this pain at my 6 month checkup, my cardiologist said he thought I might have had an angina attack and advised me to head to the hospital if I felt the pain again.

So, as I made my way up toward the Hollywood Sign, unable to shake the pain, I bummed a nitroglycerine tablet off someone in the group. The near instantaneous end of my chest pain told me I was indeed suffering from angina. (I probably shouldn't admit I finished the climb.)


After I returned home, feeling fine, I headed for the hospital. By Monday evening I was in recovery after two stents opened up blockage, estimated at 80%+, in my left coronary artery. It's just after midnight, on Thursday, and I feel as if I never had the angioplasty.

My doctor was right, and my own assessment of my chest pain was completely skewed by what I wanted to believe - that I didn't have a heart problem. We can certainly blind ourselves to the truth.

I'm glad I made that visit to the emergency room, and in the future I'll try to listen better to what my body is telling me. (I threw up some pics of the ride and my hospital visit here.) And I can hardly wait, with such better flow of blood to my heart, to learn what my next ride up to the Hollywood Sign is going to be like.
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Old 08-13-09, 03:46 AM   #2
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Good to see that you will be okay, did I read correctly that you were awake for the angioplasty surgery. That is amazing.

Paul.
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Old 08-13-09, 09:30 AM   #3
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Good to see that you will be okay, did I read correctly that you were awake for the angioplasty surgery. That is amazing.
Conscious sedation is standard practice for percutaneous transluminal angioplasty. They want you to be able to tell them if you start having chest pain during the procedure.
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Old 08-13-09, 10:26 AM   #4
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I suffer from the same level of denial in many ways. I'm glad to hear you're recovering well, and hope you are able to ride successfully soon.

Meantime... *slap slap* Wake up and smell the coffee, and starting taking better care of yourself!
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Old 08-13-09, 10:26 AM   #5
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Having had a stent placed in an artery six months ago, I knew the drill. Knowing in advance that the doctors would find a blocked artery that was causing me pain when I exercised, I wasn't worried about the outcome. Part of the time I was only semi-conscious, as I kept drifting off to sleep.

Last edited by icyclist; 08-13-09 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 08-13-09, 11:14 AM   #6
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Glad it worked out.

I've had the opposite happen- two or three times now I think I'm having a cardiac episode serious enough to go to the hospital only to be told my heart is fine, even after stress testing. In my case, I pulled a muscle in my chest, on my left side, while lifting weights as a teen. I apparently have some scar tissue in there that I've aggravated a few times with vigorous exercise. I also have acid reflux issues at times and that landed me in an ER once. They almost gave me a nitro pill but before they did the symptoms went away (I had taken my reflux medicine but it took longer to kick in than I expected).

Still.... I don't want to get overconfident and assume every time I have chest pain for any reason, that it's not my heart.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-13-09, 01:02 PM   #7
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>Meantime... *slap slap* Wake up and smell the coffee, and starting taking better care of yourself!<

I should have understood the implications of mt chest pain, but yes, the ability to deny reality is strong. Otherwise, I do take good care of myself; my diet is excellent, I exercise, don't smoke, maybe I have half a glass of wine once or twice a week. In my case, it's likely genetics plays a role in my heart disease.
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Old 08-13-09, 01:04 PM   #8
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>I don't want to get overconfident and assume every time I have chest pain for any reason, that it's not my heart.<

Listen to the voice of experience: "It is better to be safe than sorry." You've done the right thing, Doohickie.
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Old 08-13-09, 01:29 PM   #9
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Glad it worked out.

I've had the opposite happen- two or three times now I think I'm having a cardiac episode serious enough to go to the hospital only to be told my heart is fine, even after stress testing.
Still.... I don't want to get overconfident and assume every time I have chest pain for any reason, that it's not my heart.
In 1999 I was in hospital with a heart attack that led to a triple bypass. While in waiting for the Angiogram and to get over the Attack- my riding mate came in. Then one night it was his wife that came in and "What have I and Mike been up to?" That morning he had indigestion and went to the doctor and was rushed into hospital. Not the same one I was in. Couple of days later after a stress test and Xrays and lots of other tests he was pronounced fit- very fit. He got me back riding and all was fine till 2 years later when he died of a heart attack on a bike ride. His heart problem was arteries blocked internally of the heart and it was not picked up.

So you are right- do not be complacent.
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Old 08-13-09, 02:22 PM   #10
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>In 1999 I was in hospital with a heart attack that led to a triple bypass.<

Yes, but if you were as serious about your heart as you are about your bike, you'd have gotten a standard double bypass instead of a triple.
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Old 08-13-09, 02:32 PM   #11
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>In 1999 I was in hospital with a heart attack that led to a triple bypass.<

Yes, but if you were as serious about your heart as you are about your bike, you'd have gotten a standard double bypass instead of a triple.
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