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Let's hear from heart attack survivors!

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Let's hear from heart attack survivors!

Old 01-03-15, 09:19 AM
  #1  
Don in Austin
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Let's hear from heart attack survivors!

The evening of Oct. 22nd I was on a group ride and they tell me I just fell over at an intersection where we regroup. 68 years old with no warning, not overweight, good blood chemistry as far as tests had shown. S**t happens. Fortunately, my fellow riders went into action as if they had been rehearsing what to do! One on the phone with EMS, another directing traffic around where I had fallen in the street, another pounding my chest with fists, another took my bike, helmet and gloves home and delivered to my place of business the next day. EMS was close by, very well equipped and took me to a top notch heart hospital. I was in intensive care refrigerated for a couple of days.

I remember nothing from that evening when I went down, nor even the entire day, so have to go with what I am told. In fact even after I went home,my short term memory was not too good, but much better now. I tried to go to work (Don's Automotive) and just handle the phone and order parts etc., pretty early after being released. My stepson who was doing a GREAT job of managing the shop, very sweetly sent me home.

I was wearing my usual stained levi shorts, stained pink t-shirt and riding a straight bar bike. An EMS worker said, "This man is really lucky you folks came along when you did!" Probably thought I was an eccentric homeless dude. "Oh, he is one of us"

I understand at one point there was serious problem of traffic congestion there were so many bicycles in my hospital room! Much I do not remember, but they tell stories, about me talking some real trash out of my head. Chewed out my wife big time for not bringing my Steinway upright to my hospital room! My daughter came up from Marfa and hung out and was wonderful and patient with me.

A couple weeks after I went down they did major bypass surgery.

I started exercising like a fiend as soon as able. Second week or so of November I would walk down my road to the house next door and had to hug the mailbox and regain my breath. Now I can walk several miles in hilly territory. I go to the state capitol and go up and down the stairs inside. The other day did 1220 steps. My cardiologist's nurse told me "You can't overdo it." Ha!! I proved her wrong one time and after two vigorous days back to back I slept from 6:00 PM till 6:00 AM which freaked out my wife, she called the doc and he conceded I might have done a little more than optimum. Just had to test limits! But overall, I think the more exercise the better. Exercise could repair heart damage - Telegraph

Cleared to get back on the bike as of Jan ! (Bullied the cardio surgeon into two weeks earlier than he originally said.) My leg strength is good, I don't have a problem staying out for a good while, I do tend to run out of steam when attacking a hill flat out and need to drop into a much lower gear than I would previously at the top.

I hooked up with this gentleman: A year and a half after stranger saved his life, Stanton Truxillo | www.austin360.com He says be patient, I am doing fine. I thinks some lack of patience has actually done me good.

There is a good side to all this. I am appreciative of a FANTASTIC community of fellow cyclists, and just being able to walk a mile to lunch seems like a wonderful, privilege -- let alone that I am back on the bike. So much I took for granted now seems miraculous. BTW, there is nothing like hospital food to help you lose weight...

Here is a link to a FB page my wife cobbled together! https://www.facebook.com/groups/719826721425322/ Support from friends and fellow riders is awesome!

Tomorrow a big group ride from town to my house with all my wonderful buddies and then a feast prepared by my wife.

I would love to hear from anyone else who has been through this.

Don in Austin -- fighting the good fight. No little electric scooter for this boy!
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Old 01-03-15, 12:12 PM
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Thanks for posting, Don, and best wishes on a continued thorough and rapid recovery. The Russians say, "It happens." As you noted, we say something similar.

I love your comments about the supportive cycling community and the hospital food diet plan.
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Old 01-03-15, 02:27 PM
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Congratulations on your survival.
Encouragement on your Pushing. No matter the major challenge keeping as close to the edge as possible is The Way to go. Sometimes you step over. But that is the way you know where the edge is, eh?
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Old 01-03-15, 06:40 PM
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Hope you have a good recovery!
I had mine June 8, 2012. Had already dropped 55 pounds, working out at the gym 3 days a week, riding almost every day up,tom35 miles, in great shape. Was at the gym doing my routine, pushing it as I usually did back then. Doing my last set, I was sweating profusely and out of breath, thinking.....good workout! Anyway, decided to sit in my truck with the air on, cooling off and catching my breath before heading to work. Problem was, I was not cooling off and could not catch my breath. By this time my brain is kicking in and determined this was not good, thinking maybe heart attack, but how? I had lost all the weight, was in great shape, doing all the right things.........
until I felt pressure in my left shoulder and my left arm started to tingle. Shut the truck off, went back in the gym and had them call 911. EMTs came, hauled me off to the hospital, ended up with 3 stents in my RCA. It took just under an hour and a half from the time I was feeling bad until I was wheeled out of the cath lab. Spent my weekend in ICU then home. Cardiologist said to go easy for a while, then a few weeks after I was cleared to ride, short distance and go easy. Then cleared back to the gym, again had to go easy.
long story short, I did not have to have cardio rehab, as I was already doing things similar to it. Had a stress test a year later, all good. None last year, but will have to have one this fall.

Was on 4 meds, down to 2 within the year after. Only problem I have since is I have a lot less energy, have to keep HR below 140. Given that I do not push myself as hard, but doing way well according to the cardio doc.
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Old 01-03-15, 06:46 PM
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Best wishes to you, avmech, as well. If you had not gotten yourself into shape and/or had not known the symptoms to watch for, the outcome might have been a lot worse. As you note, you were already doing cardio rehab stuff.
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Old 01-03-15, 07:33 PM
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Man, I wondered where you had been lately, seems you had a lot on your plate, Don. Great to know that your riding buddies took things in hand, and that you are doing well, now. Good thing that everyone knew what to do when you hit the deck, love the EMT's comments about your "kit".

Nothing from any experience in this field, I did put in a join your group request on FB, its Bill Barnard, btw. Great to have a good news post here, too.

Bill
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Old 01-03-15, 07:55 PM
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During the two years prior to my heart attack I lost 95lb. The day before my heart attack my wife and I tackled a killer hill with 14% grades in spots. On the day of my heart attack I went to a bike shop with a buddy to help him buy his first bike. We did a 3mile test ride at a grandma pace, then went back inside where I said, "I think I'm going to pass out.". Then I laid down quickly on my back and passed out. An army medic in the bike shop told my good friend "I don't think he's going to make it". That freaked everyone out. But I made it. After getting a stent put in the recovery/therapy people contacted me to set up a schedule for exercise but my doc cancelled it, knowing my history. He explained to them that by the time they would have me scheduled for the first day I would already be exceeding their programs goals. He told me not to waste my time and feel free to get back on the bike and ride. Works for me. My second heart attack might be a better story but it will wait for another post.
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Old 01-03-15, 08:12 PM
  #8  
Don in Austin
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Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
Congratulations on your survival.
Encouragement on your Pushing. No matter the major challenge keeping as close to the edge as possible is The Way to go. Sometimes you step over. But that is the way you know where the edge is, eh?
I agree with you. You know, I have been all over the internet googling for post cardiac arrest rehab and similar. I can find NOTHING that I feels applies to the program I need to get back into pre-event shape. If I followed most of the advice I have read, there is no way I would be where I am now. Avoid hills whether walking or cycling, don't get too tired? I mean, I do get all out of breath fairly easy, but a few minutes and I am ready to go again.

I am on minimal meds. The first statin they prescribed sucked big time and made me feel like I had a bad hangover. The replacement for it, I can deal with that. I said no to the beta blocker because it put a rev limiter on my heart rate and made me wake up feeling like I was really dragging. Statin, CQ-10, aspirin and lisinopril which seems to be a very benign blood pressure med. My cardiologist goes along with this -- he is a cool dude who actually has other cyclists in his practice.

My diet is basically whatever I want to eat as long as its wholesome real food. Very little sugar, no junk carbs.

Today I only rode ten miles, but sought out the steepest hills in the neighborhood, those that were hard to top without stopping even before heart attack. So I did stop a couple of times. My friend Gayla cut the ride short telling me I need to preserve energy for tomorrow when my buddies and I ride from town out to my house for a feat.

Overall, life past this event is GOOD.

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Old 01-03-15, 10:12 PM
  #9  
Don in Austin
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Originally Posted by digibud View Post
During the two years prior to my heart attack I lost 95lb. The day before my heart attack my wife and I tackled a killer hill with 14% grades in spots. On the day of my heart attack I went to a bike shop with a buddy to help him buy his first bike. We did a 3mile test ride at a grandma pace, then went back inside where I said, "I think I'm going to pass out.". Then I laid down quickly on my back and passed out. An army medic in the bike shop told my good friend "I don't think he's going to make it". That freaked everyone out. But I made it. After getting a stent put in the recovery/therapy people contacted me to set up a schedule for exercise but my doc cancelled it, knowing my history. He explained to them that by the time they would have me scheduled for the first day I would already be exceeding their programs goals.
Sounds like the home health rehab care that my insurance was going to pay for. About all they did was have you move your feet around and maybe lift one leg and then another. At one point we walked 200 feet in the neighborhood. it was kind of weird because the same person never came twice. Then I was told that I was dis-qualified for their rehab because I was able to leave the house! It is REALLY strange to me that nowhere on the internet can I find reference to any kind of post-heart attack rehab remotely like what I am doing, or like I imagine you did.


Originally Posted by digibud View Post
He told me not to waste my time and feel free to get back on the bike and ride.
Well, it would sort of suck if the stitches in your sternum ripped loose.... That's all that kept me from getting on the bike sooner. So I climbed stairs instead, rode the boring trainer and walked a LOT.

Originally Posted by digibud View Post
Works for me. My second heart attack might be a better story but it will wait for another post.
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Old 01-03-15, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by avmech View Post
It took just under an hour and a half from the time I was feeling bad until I was wheeled out of the cath lab.
90 minutes from EMS call to cath lab is the current practice goal!
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Old 01-04-15, 06:38 AM
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I have been riding with Don for a few years and know him to be a determined rider. Wilke Street is a benchmark in the area, very steep, I recommend he wait until spring to attempt it, we did it yesterday!
Don no longer surprises me with his after heart attack accomplishments. I just shake my head and let him lead.
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Old 01-04-15, 10:31 PM
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I have had two heart attacks, the first in Dec. 2008. It was mild and I think triggered in part by some serious and on-going two-year long stress. Not to mention my dad had heart disease. I got rid of the stress after the heart attack. And I got back on my bike five days after leaving the hospital. I took it easy until I passed a stress test two weeks later, and then I went full speed. Damage to my heart was supposedly "minimal."

In March, 2011, a blood clot formed in a stent. That caused a far more serious heart attack. My heart was, according to the surgeon who put a stent in my artery, perhaps five minutes from stopping. And once a heart stops, the odds are it won't start again, even in a hospital.

The clot was in my left descending "widow maker" artery, and I was off my bike for two weeks. I felt wiped out for at least the first week. By the end of the second week I felt like I was back to normal. Six weeks after my heart attack, which supposedly caused some significant damage, I rode a metric century. A few months later, after my cardiologist said I'd probably never ride with as much "vigor" as I had before my heart attack, I changed cardiologists. While it took me time to regain my former condition, I did come all the way back and more.

I take an aspirin a day, to keep my blood thin. I take the generic form of Plavix, to keep my blood from easily clotting; I'm going to keep taking the latter, which many people stop taking after a year or two, because neither I nor my cardiologist trust the stent in my artery, even though the repair was made that saved my life.

I've gone back and forth on statins since my first heart attack. Evidence does seem to be mounting that statins help people from getting heart attacks, although I'm not sure statins help people live longer. And it may only help people who don't take good care of themselves.

One reason I don't trust statins is that I had rhabdomyolysis after an extremely strenuous bike ride well after my first heart attack. Rhabdo occurs when your muscles run out of energy and they start to devour themselves, and the resultant breakdown of tissue can ultimately destroy kidneys. It's not out of the realm of possibility that the statin was part of the cause. So I take a fairly small dose of the drug and frankly, I still don't trust it.

My doctor wanted me to take lisinoprin because statistically people who take it tend not to have as many heart attacks as people who don't take it. Until I had some strange spikes in my blood pressure, I didn't bother with the drug. Now I take it, my blood pressure is back to its consistent low reading, and my cardiologist is happy.

I never have to argue with my doctors. What I do is my decision, not theirs. I take their advice for what it is, advice. They have far more knowledge than me, but as humans, they are fallible and they tend to go by the numbers, not by the individuals they are treating.

I feel amazingly lucky that my own heart attacks didn't stop or slow me down. I'll be 67 in less than a month. Last June, I rode several thousand feet up to the top of a a place called Stelvio Pass (which I chronicled in this forum here), and this year, in just a couple of months, I will try to ride up 10,000 feet to the top of Haleakala Crater, in Hawaii.
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Old 01-05-15, 06:10 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by icyclist View Post

My doctor wanted me to take lisinoprin because statistically people who take it tend not to have as many heart attacks as people who don't take it. Until I had some strange spikes in my blood pressure, I didn't bother with the drug. Now I take it, my blood pressure is back to its consistent low reading, and my cardiologist is happy.
I take lisinopril also. It is a relatively benign blood pressure med. It does not impose a rev limiter on your heart like beta blockers do, and by relaxing and opening up blood vessels can help you exercise vigorously as opposed to the blood pressure meds that limit hard exercise.

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Old 01-05-15, 07:57 PM
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My heart attack was 2009, before I was riding. I did the regular Cardiac Rehab and graduated myself to serious biking. My Rehab nurses got my doctor to reduce and then stop the lisinopril so that I could stand up without getting dizzy. Typical BP without medication is 85/50 post exercise, 95/60 resting before exercise. My doctor also said that the Plavix is permanent. He doesn't like my chances of surviving a clogged stent because of its location - Right at the top of the Left Descending.
If I do have more problems with my heart, I hope they happen while I'm riding.
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Old 01-06-15, 06:52 AM
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I had a heart attack July 5 2014. After a couple of stents and 3+ months of cardiac rehab I'm just starting to feel somewhat like my old self. Still, I can't yet do the higher level activities I was used to (running, cycling 30 miles, etc). I am walking regularly and doing some resistance work and feel pretty good though.

Sounds like you have bounced back pretty well. Good luck in your recovery.
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Old 01-06-15, 12:13 PM
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62. Thinking about it stresses me out. I don't want to have one just because I'm worried about possible symptoms. (Am I going to die?)
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