As life goes on as usual, it seems like a lifetime ago, although in fact only a month ago that my husband had a heart attack. We are still trying to digest the magnitude of the words ‘heart attack’. He is too young to have a heart attack. My mind would still run through the events of the day from time to time. He is doing fine now with his recovery and the doctors and nurses comments were that he was lucky. Lucky because he recognized something was wrong and went to the hospital quickly. Lucky because it happened on his right coronary artery and not the left. Lucky because he did not lose consciousness. Lucky because it did not happen when we were hiking in the mountains.
This is our experience and is not meant to replace any medical advice from medical professionals. This is a deviation from my usual blog but I want to share this experience with you so you are armed with some knowledge if you ever have to deal with this situation and to be aware of what you can do now to prevent this from happening. My husband has asthma and diabetes. When he first experienced the heaviness in his chest and shortness of breath, he thought it was his asthma acting up. However when the inhaled medication did not relieve the shortness of breath, he woke me up and we went to the hospital. He started to sweat profusely at that time and his breathing was getting more difficult. At the hospital they quickly hooked him up with IV fluids and all kind of monitors. Finally the emergency room doctor called the cardiologist and told us the news. His right coronary artery was completely blocked with plague. Angioplasty was done and a stent inserted to open up the artery. The American Heart Association has plenty of information about heart disease if you are interested in more detailed explanation. Diabetes is a very serious risk factor for heart disease. Is there a way to prevent it? Yes and you have to work hard for it.
- A healthy diet, exercise, medication and regular monitoring of blood sugar level, blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Get regular preventative check ups.
- When you look at your cholesterol readout, be aware of the level of your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) the ‘good’ cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) the ‘bad’ cholesterol and the equally bad triglycerides. In my husband’s situation, he has a bad combination of low HDL, high LDL and high triglycerides.
- Avoid animal fat and especially red meat. Explore plant-based diet.
- For diabetic, you should be monitoring carbohydrate intake closely. Talk to your doctor, diabetic educator or nutritionist.
- Take your medication as prescribed.
- Add exercise to your daily routine especially aerobic cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new routine.
- Don’t wait to see a doctor if you experience any symptoms that are not normal for you.
- If you suspected heart attack, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. I drove him to the hospital in the middle of the night because we didn’t know it was his heart. I realized that it has to be something serious as we were getting closer to the hospital and he could hardly breathe, his skin was grayish and cold to the touch.
For now, with a stent in his artery and taking hefty doses of different medications, he starts his road to recovery. It is a slow process and we have to constantly remind him not to go too fast and put unnecessary stress on his heart. We go back to the normal routine except the fear of another heart attack will always linger in the back of our minds, or at least in my mind. Change in lifestyle is difficult, but after this incident, he is now more open-minded about the different healthier food choices I made. Regardless, we are staying strong as a family and keeping a close watch on him so he can stay on track in this new lease on life.