I was told back in October that I had early onset CAD and was put under strict orders to drop weight, modify my diet, and get more exercise. I did all that I was told and more. Thought I was on the right track. Recently during workouts, I began having some chest pains. Went to my doc for what I thought was reflux and days later, came out of the hospital with three stents. I had no idea things were so bad and was deeply upset by the whole experience. I am told the procedure went well and that I will soon be doing all the things I used to do. But I find it hard to believe. Every little pain or twinge makes me jump and wonder if something is wrong with one of my stents. The very thought of being physically active again scares me. I feel like a walking time bomb. Is this normal? Am I overreacting? Sometimes, I want to just sit here and cry . . . feeling like my life is over. I am only 38! I have to find more info, but t has been hard.
"I feel like a walking time bomb. Is this normal?"
This is more normal than one may think.
As various medical literature and the worldwide media have reported, clinically significant (blood flow-limiting) coronary artery disease (CAD), sometimes leading to a dreaded heart attack, is increasing in those in their mid/late 30s to early 40s.
CAD actually begins (the process and progression of) very early in life, even as early as in the pre-teen/teenage years. Fatty streaks (represents the earliest precursor to plaque development and plaque is the pathological hallmark of atherosclerosis) are the beginning of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries. Soft plaque (more dangerous and unpredictable than hard or calcified plaque) is the early stage of atherosclerosis.
CAD is a lifelong unpredictable (can exhibit periods of stabilization, acceleration, and even some regression) condition.
Coronary stents are only a Band-aid or spot-treatment, as this doesn't address the disease processes and what drives the progression.
Good doctor-patient/patient-doctor communication and understanding is so very important, essential at ALL times.
Best of luck down the road of life. Live long and prosper.
WebMD community member (since 8/99)
Living with Heart Disease Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
When you have CAD, it is important to take good care of your heart for the rest of your life....
This is especially true if you have had an interventional procedure or surgery to improve blood flow to the heart....../It is up to......
The symptoms of artery-narrowing atherosclerosis are highly variable. Those with mild atherosclerosis may present with clinically important symptoms and signs of disease and heart attack, or absolute worst case scenario, sudden cardiac death (SCD) may be the first and only symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD). However, many individuals with anatomically advanced disease may have no symptoms and experience no functional impairment.
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Good to know, for the primary and secondary prevention of heart attack and brain attack/stroke
Epidemiologic studies (EDS) have revealed risk factors for atherosclerosis (typically affecting the coronary, carotid, and peripheral arteries), which includes age, gender, genetics (gene deletion, malfunction, or mutation), diabetes (cosidered as being the highest risk factor), smoking (includes secondhand), inactivity, obesity (a global epiemic, "globesity", high blood pressure (hypertension), high LDL, high Lp(a), high ApoB, high Lp-PLA2, high triglycerides, low HDL (less than 40 mg/dL, an HDL level of 60/65 mg/dL or more is considered protective against coronary artery disease), high homocysteine, and high C-reactive protein (CRP/hs-CRP).
"Be a questioning patient. Talk to your doctor and ask questions. Studies show that patients who ask the most questions, and are most assertive, get the best results. Be vigilant and speak up!"
- Charles Inlander, People's Medical Society
It's your future......be there.
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This avery normal feeling. Sounds like you are suffering from depression to. You need to find a good counselor to help you threw the hard times. I have 14 stents and have had 2 sets of by-pass surgery consisting of 10 grafts total. I still have chest pains so I live one day at a time, hoping there is a tomarrow.
Hello John, My husband had a heart attack in January of 09 and he has a stent. He was told the same things you were.He walks 3 miles a day mon-fri he does exercises with weights at home 2 to 3 times a week and the hardest thing for him was to lose weight because not only does he love to eat he loves to cook just as much but he has accomplished it. I was with him when he had his heart attack and it has taken some time for me to adjust. Although I don't have a stent like you, I was always scared that something was going to go wrong I could not go to sleep until he did and then I would wake for any movement he made. I do understand how you feel , but it does get better you just have to get back into slowly at first then as time goes by you will become more confident. My husband is 56. Remember the hardest part is over, you have the stents. Your life isn't over, if God was ready for you he would have called taken you. Good Luck
John, I was 57 when I started feeling extreme tiredness, shortness of breath and pain while walking or exercising. My doctor ordered a stress test and 2 days later, I had a stent for 2 blockages. I must admit, in those 2 days waiting to have the procedure, I was scared of having a heart attack, but felt so blessed that I had the procedure before anything happened. I consider it only the grace of God that I didn't have a heart attack. I was apprehensive about it happening again, but decided I could let fear keep me from living or defeat my fear by living my life to the Glory of God. It's been 3 years and I've lost 36 pounds, go to the gym three times a week (exercise will make you feel a lot better and it's good for you as long as your Dr. says it's OK) and play with my 6 grandchildren. There is a scripture in Isaiah 26:3 which says, "Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee." I don't know if you're a Christian, but I know no matter what, I'm going to be OK and I pray you will surrender your fear. Also, my cardiologist recommended a mild anti-depressant (which I thought I would never need), but he said it was common for heart patients and I have to admit, it makes me feel better. Keep living a healthy lifestyle and I'll say a prayer for you.!
I had a massive heart attack at the age of 36 back in October 2002. The worst part is the doctor in the ER figured I was on drugs instead of have an MI. So they wasted valuable time and the result was major heart damage on the leftside of my heart. My ejection fraction is less than 20. I have a defib/pacemaker and at some point I will be put on the transplant list. Long story and long recovery to the point where I am able to look after our house, animals, hubby, and volunteer at times. It is such a sock to the system. Counseling may be a good idea. Depression goes hand in hand with heart problems. So I have been told. I was scared to death and even now there are times when I get congested I get in a panic. Find someone to talk to and talk it out. I sure hope you are doing well. If you have questions never be afraid to ask. Its your life and you need to take control of it.
had a fatal heart attack at 46, after only 10 days of any symptoms. (Luckily, I had already had someone at my job call 911, and they were there to bring me back) I had 1 stent placed under emergency circumstances, I had an appt scheduled with a cardiologist only days away. I never had any prior signs, but do have a family history of heart disease/attack. This was May 7, 2009. I felt exactly the way you feel now, I prayed I would live to see Christmas, but didn't think I would. I think it's nautural to jump at little pains and twinges, even though I'd been told to expect that. I woke up crying every day, sure that today would be it, it had happened so easily and I had learned it was so easy to die. I thought my life would never be the same, but after about 6 months, I noticed the twinges, etc. were gone almost overnight. My thoughts were no longer consumed with fear, and the absence of that fear made it easier to go on with living a normal life. I'm going on 1 year now, had a cath done last week, and it was clear. I do agree that a low dose medication (I take 1/2 mg of Xanax, and onlly when needed) had helped me tremedously, anxiety only worsenes everthing you're already feeling. I also have faith in God, and agree that had it been your time, you wouldn't still be here. Every aspect of my experience was a miracle. Everything happened just the right way and at the exact right time. I am here and I am healthy. The experience is nothing like you've ever felt, and it can bring on depression. Please consider getting help for that, your mindset is so very important. Stay on track with your lifestyle, you're doing better that me with that, & I'm OK. I believe you wil be, also. It takes a liitle more time and is so frightening at times. See your Dr regularly, be an advocate for yourself if noone else can. ASK QUESTIONS!! Do NOT be intimidated by medical staff, even though they are busy, don't be left with questions or unresolved feelings. If this is happening to you, find another Dr. I wish you the best, it sounds like you are doing everthing possible to stay healthy physically, but it is OK to get counseling or take meds if you need them, it's normal. It sounds like your fear is all that is keeping you from enjoying your life. You are still here for a reason. I will pray for you today, John.
Thanks for your Reply!
I had 3 stents back in June06. Like you, I was paranoid. But have relaxed now. I feel blessed that like you, I recd an early warning and had the opportunity to take charge of my health. Take care and follow your doctor's orders and you will be fine.
I have a total of 6 stents via 3 procedures.....starting in 2000. I have not had an MI, however I have a strong family history of CAD on my Dad's side of the family... I have been blessed w/ a great, caring cardiologist. As a female, the symptoms I experienced were different than a male experiences. It is not uncommon to experience depression... talk to your doctor and ask for help. Do follow your doctor's recommendations to change your life style ( exercise, dietary changes, lose weight, lower cholesterol). Suggestions: Always take another set of ears to medical appointments/ consultations....to make sure you don't miss anything. Consider doing a medical gnealogy for your children and/or other family members. My faith has helped me thru every situation. God Bless.
I had 3 stents two years ago after bypass surgery in 2001. Feel great, but after the bypass surgery, felt anxious, depressed and other feelings about mortality. However, do what you feel like doing and enjoy life. I eventually got over it with the help of my spouse and family. Life goes on. Live every day as if it was your last and have now regrets. If you feel like it, just do it.
You might want to ask your doctor about a cardiac rehab program. I went to one after a heart attack and a stent and it hlped me a lot. Slowly I was able to increase the amount of physical activity that I did under the watchful eye of a medical staff. I also met with a counselor and a nutritionist. That was five years ago and today I'm still going strong with no relapse. I'm 53 and active, work full time and keep busy.
The feeling of impending doom eventually goes away.
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