Anyone had experience of heart attacks / problems?
TL:DR – Has anyone had a heart issue / stent and got back to full fitness with maximum efforts?
Long post so here goes
A bit of background…. I’m 41, 6’2” and around 14 stone so slightly heavier than the recommended BMI. I got in to tri around 2018 after spending most of my life cycling albeit more for commuting and weekend rides at around 21-23kph average with generally around 500m climbing. I had always been swimming, achieving a decent level at school so the only new sport for me was running, which I have grown to like slightly more
When I got to my teens I got fairly big (around 18-19 stone) and then went to Uni where activity increased but I was still fairly overweight. Stayed fairly big throughout my 20s before losing a fair bit of weight at 30 then gaining again until I took up training for triathlon.
Last Monday, I went out for a run. It was late and I was in two minds but was on a good run of consistent workouts so though I might as well get a 5k in. Off I went, slightly faster than my normal pace but not as fast as I’ve run in the last few weeks even. As I was getting to the top of the hill back to mine. I felt heartburn come on, so much slow that I had to slow down for it. Aware that I was on a decent time (for me) I half jogged the last few bits to complete the distance and stop my watch. The heartburn was bad but didn’t get any worse and as there was someone I’d just overtaken, I made sure I turned off before they passed me and then hunched over for a bit to try and regain my breath. Fearing a heart incident, I checked my watch connected to an HRM strap and showed 161 which is exactly where I would expect it to be and my pulse was fine too, no unusual beats.
I walked the 250m or so home, having to stop and sit down at one point on the way then got inside. I found that stretching eased the pain slightly but half a bottle of liquid Gaviscon and a yoghurt didn’t. I tried to east the pain for about half an hour before deciding that it’s probably a good idea to get to A&E, so ordered a taxi there.
Got there around 7.30pm , was triaged and then seen by a doctor around 10.30 by which point the pain had subsided to standard heartburn level . The doctor clearly thought I was over playing it, especially when my ECG came back as normal but sent me off to a second doctor anyway for a more through looking at. They took blood there and then around 1.30 am came back to me and took me to a side ward. He advised me that my troponin levels were at 0.1 Troponin is an enzyme that’s released when there’s trauma to the heart. I believe the standard for diagnosing heart attack is 0.4. In the side room I had a second test for troponin which showed levels of 0.216. For comparison, a proper heart attack would be in the high thousands.
People became a bit more interested then but seemingly couldn’t make sense of it – I have no family history, non-smoker, healthy, exercise, barely drink. It got to the point where the cardiac consultant was quite insistent that I must be either taking illegal drugs or steroids for my fitness. I sarcastically ask him how many people on steroids he comes across who are delighted when they finish in the top third of competitions they enter and he seemed to calm down a bit after that.
Still without answers, I was transferred to another, more comfortable holding ward for monitoring that night. By then, I just felt like I had in the past after a skin full of beer then a kebab in the evening waking up with heartburn and getting over it. By the next day, I felt completely normal again. In either case, I went to have an angioplasty to see if that would provide answers.
To cut this long story a bit shorter, they found a blockage in a branch of a branch of a branch of one of the coronary arteries. They were inclined to leave it as it was so minor but when the registrar told the consultant I was very active, he kindly put a stent in there and managed to open up 75% of the vein that was lost.
They told me I’d be on a few drugs for a year then aspirin and statins for life. I don’t plan to be on the statins for life as they aren’t great drugs and my cholesterol was good anyway. I’m conscious of my poor eating in the past and was well away from this (though I did have a Greggs for lunch that day) so my diet was good. It was diagnosed as a heart attack in the end.
Just slightly annoying as when I seem to really start getting stronger in all three sports, something comes along to stop me. Last year my garage got broken into at the beginning of lockdown and my bikes stolen, this year, I have 12 weeks over summer where I need to rehabilitate, just when I’ve never been stronger and faster on the bike! My only possible thinking is that I have had my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine though that was over 50 days earlier. Plus also there is room for improvement in my diet.
Anyway, thanks for reading, I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s experience of heart problems and then getting back to doing maximal and threshold efforts.