After my brother John had his heart attack in April, one of my big goals for the year was to get a full cardiac workup. I had never had any issues – but also had never had it looked at, and with such an intense family history it really made sense to get everything checked out. So that was my ‘Cardiac Quest’.
Of course, with the way health insurance works you have to go to your primary care to get a referral before going to a specialist. Since I was traveling so much right into August, and already had my annual physical scheduled in August, I figured I would wait until then.
My physical went great – I was down 20lbs from last August according to them (I thought their scale was high last year, goes to show you the variation of ‘normal’ weight), my cholesterol was low, all of my blood work was great, blood pressure and pulse a bit on the low side, but typical of a distance runner. Two years ago my potassium was out of whack low (sodium also a bit low), but is perfect now through my healthy diet. Thyroid still looks awesome, no need to change those meds.
My primary scheduled me for a nuclear stress test and a follow-up consult with a cardiologist who is on the same floor, which is super-convenient.
The stress test went great – they were joking that it took longer than anyone they had ever tested to get my heart rate to the minimum for collecting data. We were laughing because the incline kept going higher every 3 minutes and the ceiling wasn’t that high – so either my heart rate was going to get high enough or I’d get a head injury. I joke around about this – but on the other side of the room there was a young guy in his 20s who couldn’t even make the first step-change before significant chest discomfort. It was a reminder that while my test was more of a screening, this is really serious stuff.
I love my cardiologist – he is one of those people who is obviously really smart, but quickly found out what I did and my background and then started talking to me about the data and measurement perspectives and technical functions of various parts of my heart. He went through my stress test and blood work and detailed how he felt about everything – which really came down to the fact that without the family history I wouldn’t be sitting there, but he was very glad that he had the rare opportunity to fully characterize me at this point and then track my heart health over time.
He did want to run an echocardiogram to finish up his charactarization, so we scheduled that as well as a final follow-up. The echo was just a quick ultrasound, so I got that goopy jelly smeared on my chest and my heart mapped before I headed to work.
That was the week before the Wineglass Marathon, which was fine in terms of feeling good in my heart and lungs. I have been trying to be very aware of how I feel in terms of stress and breathing, and honestly it is pretty awesome.
So this morning was my final follow-up, and he checked me over and we reviewed the entire data package from end to end once again. And everything looks great. He noted in the echo that there was no indication of any damage, stiffening, blockage, leakage, or anything else of concern.
He was glad to hear about the marathon and how quickly I was back to running more than 50 miles per week. He is going to see me again in six months for another follow-up and then go to annual check-ins unless something changes on my side.
I am really glad that I went through all of this, that my primary took my concerns seriously and pushed everything through, and that I have such a good cardiologist. Hopefully my family will never have to meet him!