The first priority after surviving a cardiac event is to prevent another one. The cardiac cocktail is a manifold of meds designed to decrease stress on the heart. It’s a muscle, albeit the most important one in your body, but like any other muscle, it needs room to heal. The cardiac cocktail is designed for each patient to optimize both desired outcomes.
Blood thinners, Blood Pressure (BP) meds (lower it), Asprin (another blood thinner), and in my case something to keep the foreign objects (stents) where they belong and something to lower the cholesterol levels in my blood.
That is not a lot of chemistry, but it’s a good bit so what could go wrong?
All sorts of things.
For me, the only obvious side-effect (so far) is a bit of lightheadedness.
I get my BP checked at Physical therapy three times a week, but I also had an appointment with my Primary Care Physician (PCP). Before I left the hospital, it was down into the mid-90/60 range, likewise at PT this week. When I went to see my PCP it rolled in at 81/60.
White coat syndrome aside, that was the second BP check. The first one was lower.
For background, I’ve never had high blood pressure. I’ve never had low blood pressure. So the BP meds, which were already prescribed at a very minimal dose, were doing too good of a job. I was getting close to the passing out stage.
You pass out, and you don’t get to decide when or where you fall, break something, hit your head, get a wound or cut, and that’s not fun especially when you are on blood thinners.
No clots but hey, you might bleed out or suffer head trauma. Oops.
While that may sound like a great idea to some of our readers my wife, kids, (friends, extended family) employer, and my growing list of care providers would disagree.
No, I’m not stressed out about any of that. It is what it is. I had a heart attack. My body, my genetics, my diet, my lifestyle choices. My responsibility.
Maybe I need to move around a bit less for a few weeks. Whatever the deal, the goal is to find a balance that addresses the cardiac concerns and keeps me from taking any unannounced headers when I do need to get from the PS4 to the Laptop or to the bathroom and back.
Yeah, it’s been rough. I nap a lot too. Rest matters.
I am allowed to drive to get to these places and appointments, so that is the real concern. And if it were a genuine threat, I would not drive.
I get my BP repeatedly checked three days a week (at PT), so because I am so frequently monitored by professionals my PCP cut one specific med dose in half until I go to the Cardiologist in two weeks to see if that makes any difference without making the wrong sort of difference.
Other than that it has been an interesting ride so far. My diet is a lot different, at least for a while. Low fat, low cholesterol, low salt. I may be able to go back to a low but not quite so low sodium diet in the not so distant future. No alcohol or beer, not anytime soon at least – something in the cardiac cocktail disagrees with it.
Walking can be exhausting while at the same time doing PT is exhilarating, and the things that drive the heart rate up would surprise you. Did I mention that rest matters?
Most Housework is verboten which stinks cause I like doing it. I’m not permitted to take the dogs out because any pulling and yanking are very bad and walking up and down inclines is stress in excess for now. But my kids are “thrilled” that they can take turns waking at 6 am to feed the dogs and take them out while I sleep in.
There’s a lot of role reversal going on. I find it amuses me to sit on the couch playing Horizon Zero Dawn on the PS4 and yelling the for kids to take the dogs out. Did I say it amuses me? It amuses me.
I am allowed to feed myself, shower, get dressed and all that. But there are rules. Take your time. Do a lot of things sitting down when you can. Not forever but for a while.
All in all, at day 12, I feel great. (I felt great at day one hour-three to be honest.)
You get a lot of questions about your mental wellness. Depression is, I am told, common for cardiac patients. I guess I’m uncommon (no s**t, really?). It’s all very practical in my mind. Had these symptoms. Took this action, they did this I do that, test, evaluate, modify, proceed.
I am happy with the progress, and want to thank everyone who sent well-wishes, cards or gifts or food (to take some the stress off my lovely wife who is both hyper-vigilant (to keep me resting) and as such doing a lot more because I can’t.
If I had to give any advice, it’s boringly apparent. Don’t have a heart attack, they hurt like hell, and they can kill you.
If you find yourself increasingly short of breath, dizzy or light-headed or with strange sensations in your jaw, shoulder, arms or chest, including pain (separately, together, intermittent or persistent), consider visiting your doctor for a chat.
If you have these things and happen to be over fifty, PLEASE find some time to talk to a healthcare professional. Just talk to them. Be honest about the symptoms and when you have them.
Maybe it’s nothing. Perhaps you have to endure a chat about your lifestyle choices. There will probably be some blood work. So what. It’s a lot cheaper than getting treated for a cardiac event with astronomically better outcomes.
My heart didn’t stop, but a lot of people ignore their symptoms until it does and they don’t live to tell the tale.
I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.