Wednesday, August 22, 2012

OT - Have a Healthy Heart

I know that Rosie O'Donnell survived a heart attack and is in the news.  As many of you know, heart disease can have different symptoms in men and women. 

I bring this up because a month ago my 80 year old mother, who religiously got medical check-ups, had chest pains. She believed she had no heart trouble before. She had never gone to a cardiologist nor had she ever been diagnosed with heart disease.  We thought she was fine. We went to Centerpointe Hospital in Independence. After a cardiac catheterization, the cardiologist on staff told us she has "the worst coronary artery disease the doctor had ever seen" and that she was a "ticking time bomb." He said she needed bypass surgery immediately before she had an inevitable massive heart attack. The cardiologist referred us to the cardiac surgeon who told us her lungs were too weak for him to operate, implying (actually almost expressing) that we take her home and wait for the big one. 

We transferred my mom to KU Medical Center where she had quintuple coronary bypass surgery and is now excelling in rehab. Before the weekend I took her to the ER, she had no symptoms. She said that her breasts hurt and felt heavy and the middle of her back hurt. Her left wrist hurt at times that weekend. KU has wonderful doctors, and, to the chagrin of my husband, I am now a Jayhawk fan.

My mom plays bridge several times a week, went to a gym for older folks, drives, has lunch with her high school girlfriends and goes to dinner with my family once a week.  She uses social media, reads a lot and is very smart.  She lives alone. She got annual checkups and took every test on anything her doctor ordered. 

I just wanted to tell you all this because heart disease can be a silent killer in women, and men.  After this scare, I intend to ask specifically for tests to determine if I have coronary artery disease. I also would not recommend going to Centerpointe for heart problems (or anything else for that matter).  I am very lucky my mother is alive.

There are area hospitals that do cardiac scans for a nominal price - $50. The St. Luke's Hospitals in Kansas City provide this service. This is just a starting point. If you have any blockage, follow up with a good cardiologist. There are a number f tests that can be run. 

My mother was lucky that the 90% blockage in all of her major coronary arteries was discovered before a heart attack killed her. Some people, have massive heart attacks with no forewarning. My husband and I are getting scans next week.  Then we'll see if we need to have further tests. We need to take charge of this issue, especially for those of us in families like my husband's and mine, with long family histories of stroke and heart attacks. It feels good to be proactive.  Coronary heart disease is bad. BAD, BAD, BAD!!!! 

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