How I Recovered From Severe CHF Congestive Heart Failure. Heart Health has been on the minds of many of us and on me too. Especially since several years ago my cousin Linda, only 49, died. She went to the ER for severe pain in both shoulders; the doctors gave her a prescription for arthritis. She died suddenly of heart failure while leaving the ER lobby with prescription in hand.
A bit later Linda’s brother, my cousin Roger, collapsed at work and could not be revived. Roger, too, had died suddenly of undiagnosed heart failure.
Before either of these cousins died my father died, but at 81. Later I learned that 2 days before he died he phoned my brother who lived near him. Dad said that he felt like his heart could stop at any moment but no doctor was consulted and paramedics were not called. Dad died of untreated heart failure on Thanksgiving morning.
None of this gave me any thought that I might have the same problem because we had been on a healthy diet of no processed foods, dyes, colors or preservatives for decades, so I felt safe.
It became personal in January 2013 when I did not feel well and was taken to the ER. My head felt strange but there was not any chest pain or shortness of breath. I went to the ER, which rushed me to the Heart Hospital ICU. They instructed me not to move, sit up, or get out of bed. My blood pressure was 233/133 and heart rate was 127. I was given Nitro and diuretics and told to expect severe headaches from the Nitro. So there I lay wired up like a chimp ready to be shot into space.
Over the next five days I received every type of cardio test available. The results came in that my widow maker was 95% blocked. The second most critical artery was 90% blocked. Stents were the first choice but they said my heart was too exhausted to survive the procedure. Second choice was open-heart surgery to replace blocked arteries. Again, they said my heart was not strong enough to survive either procedure.
Three Cardiothoracic Surgeons stood in front of me and passed on the good news and the bad news.
First, the good news: you are young only 61, not on any medications and especially good that you’re not a diabetic.
Second, the bad news: your heart is to weak to survive stenting or open-heart surgery. The only option to keep you alive is an immediate transplant. Fortunately, because of your age, lack of diabetes and medications you will be first on the national transplant list. They said my current life expectancy without a transplant, was anything from a day or maybe a week.
I did not feel fortunate, lucky or in anyway excited about their enthusiasm to remove my heart. I turned down their offer, which looked to have broken their hearts. My wife and I prayed about it and agreed that I would leave the hospital to rest at home. All the doctors and nurses were terrified that I was checking out and assured me that I would drop dead before reaching my car. Well, I did make it to the car and was excited to be heading home where it would be quiet. If I did die at least it would be at a place of my choosing.
Looking back, I can understand their concern since my heart was functioning at just 19% EF. However, I learned later that they could have put the stents in immediately by using an Impella Heart Pump. Eight months later through a different health system, they did the stents with Impella Pump assist, just 36 hours after meeting them. This heart surgeon could not believe the other physicians ignored my heart’s need of oxygen just so they could have a successful transplant to brag about.
In the summer of 2018 my cardiologist said that all of my arteries were clear and my heart was functioning at 64% EF, a normal reading for an adult.
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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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