World class senior tennis player, Evert Jonsson was taking a lesson from other top players, who recently had “heart surprises” and he went to get himself tested. Only to get his own major surprise. Here is his story with a lesson for the rest of us …
Learning From Friends
“Are we all ticking heart bombs like Frank Hagelshaw, Christer Holms and Fred Drilling? Check into it! I did.
“Two years ago, Frank Hagelshaw had a triple bypass operation. His symptoms were chest pains after running. Christer Holm (best overall age group player in Sweden with 104 national championships, the Jimmy Parker of Sweden) had heart problems and stent put in.
“This summer Fred Drilling had a quadruple bypass done. Fred had chest pain after 3 hours of tennis. He went to ER thinking he might have Covid. Full story in previous blog post (scroll down in earlier topics to “Medical Updates” July 12, 2020). Fred’s cardiologist recommended that men like us to have a nuclear stress test to discover any potential blockage problems. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/nuclear-stress-test/about/pac-20385231
“Making a long story short, I went to my GP to get a nuclear stress test done but had to be referred to a cardiologist first. The cardiologist ordered Echocardiogram, CT calcium score, and bloodwork to check cholesterol.
“I’ve had high bad cholesterol LDL levels but my good cholesterol HDL (from exercise and healthy eating) has been very good. The positive difference has been enough in my dialogue with GP that I have not taken drugs to lower the LDL levels. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl.htm
“Echocardiogram is an ultrasound checkup of the heart to check main blood flow and valve functions. The results were okay, even though a little leakage was noted (considering my age, not a serious problem).
The Big Surprise
“CT calcium score measures plaque (mainly bad cholesterol and calcium) buildup. Rates are from 0 (very good) and 400 is high and need attention. Mine came in at 3,155!
“The doctor concluded I have Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), didn’t know how I was still walking around and stated unequivocally that I needed medication to lower LDL Cholesterol and control high blood pressure!
“My first thought – how do I have a heart problem given my exercising and eating healthy regimen?
“Second thought – how can it be this bad – 30 times above normal – and what does that mean?
“Main reasons for plaque buildup are: genetics, age, gender (men more likely than women), smoking, diabetes, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, low HDL, and high blood pressure. Exercise and healthy eating are good only slowing the progression by increasing the good cholesterol HDL levels.
“I told the doctor I would go home, do some research and then call back. It only took me about 30 minutes online to learn that lowering the bad LDL cholesterol to around 50 was essential and that only a Statin drug (Atorvastatin or Crestor) would help do that.
“The CT Calcium score confirmed that I have significant plaque buildup (CAD) but it does not tell you where it is. It can be inside or outside the arteries.
“Next step either:
- Do a nuclear stress test to see measure the blood flow and determine if any blockages. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/nuclear-stress-test/about/pac-20385231
- Do a heart scan. Using specialized x-ray to determine plaque buildup in the arteries. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/heart-scan/about/pac-20384686
- Do a Heart Catheterization (CATH). Requires going in with fiber optic and checking out the arteries. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cardiac-catheterization/about/pac-20384695#:~:text=Cardiac%20catheterization%20(kath%2Duh%2D,blood%20vessels%20to%20your%20heart.
“I am now ready to have a discussion with my doc about what the next step should be to determine whether there are blockages.
“Will give you an update soon, I hope! Evert”
We all should learn from this to avoid “surprises” and wish Evert well. Anyone have experience with this issue?
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