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Robinsbite: Looking for Humor when a Heart Attack Hits Way to Close to Home

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Looking for Humor when a Heart Attack Hits Way to Close to Home

In our family, we like to say that three out of the four of us children were blessed with the humor gene. We don't like to say it to loudly, though, because my sister will get offended. (she's worked hard and is coming around with her timing and humor). So when my older brother called me last Sunday night and told me he was in the hospital, I thought he was joking, naturally.

The last time he called me and told me he was in the hospital was about a month ago when he stated he admitted himself for his Facebook addiction. He built up the conversation, line by line and I was literally petrified..until he delivered his punchline and his own laughter erupted. Very funny, I said.

This call was different.

He told me that he had been feeling chest pains and had numbness and tingling on his left side after playing softball that morning. He took himself to the ER and, long story short, he had suffered a heart attack. One lone clot in his right coronary artery was the culprit and 2 stents (mesh-like inflatable balloons that help expand the artery) were placed during his cardic catherization.

Here are his stats:
  • physically active
  • weight within normal range
  • non smoker
  • Family history-Father had heart attack at 53
  • Under tremendous stress
  • Did not follow a heart healthy diet
  • Male
  • Blood values were not known at the time as it had been a while since he had them drawn, but the last time, his total cholesterol was elevated.
If you recall, I recently wrote about my friend's husband, Paul, who suffered a heart attack in nearly the same way. It was after softball and he wasn't feeling well. Unfortunately, Paul did not recover from his heart attack and died a week later. The irony in this situation is that my brother was suite mates with Paul in college. My brother visited Paul in the hospital when he had his heart attack and talked at length with his wife, who is a friend of mine. My brother has said, more than once, if it had not been for Paul, he would had never taken himself to the ER. Paul saved his life.

In the last three days, my brother has said the following:
  • I hate that my kids had to see me go through this-they are so young (14 and 12)
  • I hate that my kids will now have to say yes, we have family history of heart disease and have to put my name down
  • I have to be on 5 medications when I get out of here
  • I hate feeling like a victim---a heart attack victim
  • It's hard to believe that I have to say I had a heart attack--I'd rather just say I had some chest pains
  • If it weren't for Paul, I would have never gone to the emergency room. Please call his wife for me and tell her that for me.
While we've tried as a family, it's hard to find humor in this situation. He is 43 years old. That's right-43. I know exactly what you are thinking. Wow-he's young! Yes, he is. Even the cardiac cath nurse looked at him as they were wheeling him in to the procedure and said "Wow, you're pretty young for this, aren't you?". I think he just thought she was flirting with him. My younger brother wanted to know if the clot they found was actually a Skittles instead. He also wanted to know if the clot was a mutli-colored rainbow-much like the Skittles bag.

Now more than ever, it's critical to make your Dr's. appointment and get evaluated for heart disease. My appointment is this Thursday. When is yours? When you get your results back, have the doctor explain to you-until you understand-what your numbers mean. Print out the table below and take it with you when you receive your results. If he/she recommends a heart healthy diet, ask him/her to refer you to a registered dietitian. If he/she doesn't have one to refer you to, go to www.eatright.org and click on find a nutrition professional.

My brother thinks he's the one with the most humor in the family. We'll laugh at all of his jokes and one-liners. We'll click on all of the You Tube videos he sends us. We'll watch the Jib Jab videos he likes to make for us. For now, we'll let him think what he wants--laughter is, after all, the best medicine.

Blood Test

Results

What the Results Mean

Low-density lipoprotein
(LDL)

<100>

A high LDL is a key indicator of heart disease risk. Elevated levels may require diet and lifestyle changes and/or medication.

Total cholesterol

<200>

An elevated total cholesterol level is possibly an indicator of risk for heart disease. Elevated levels may require diet and lifestyle changes and/or medication.

High-density lipoprotein
(HDL)

<40>

A low HDL is an independent risk factor for heart disease. Low levels may require diet/lifestyle changes and/or medication.

HDL lipoprotein fractions
(apo A-I, apo B, apo C, apo E)

Optimal levels are under study

In the future, HDL fractions may determine heart disease risk and help decide type of treatment.

Triglycerides

<150>

High-serum triglycerides are an independent risk factor for heart disease. Treatment may involve dietary changes, weight reduction, physical activity, and/or medication.

Homocysteine

No established norms related to heart disease

Elevated homocysteine in the blood is linked to heart disease, but is not considered a risk factor for heart disease.

Highly sensitive CRP assay (hs CRP)

<1.0>3.0 indicates high risk of CVD

Hs CRP measures inflammation in the body. Elevated hs CRP is useful as an indicator of risk for heart disease.

CRP=C-reactive protein, CVD=cardiovascular disease, dL=deciliter, hs CRP=high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, L=liter, mg=milligram Source: RD411.com

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2 Comments:

Blogger Cristy said...

the skittles comment made me laugh outloud...good job Robin!

May 19, 2010 at 4:30 AM  
Blogger henry said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 10, 2010 at 6:53 AM  

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