3 posts tagged “congestive heart failure”

Rediscovering Life’s Simple Pleasures: An Interview with a Heart Patient

Posted October 10th, 2012 by

Learn About World Heart Day 2012

Last week, we recognized World Heart Day on the blog and discussed why there is an urgent need for awareness about heart disease and stroke, the world’s number one killer.  We also talked about how heart disease can be an abstract concept until you are exposed to someone’s personal story.

That’s why we are pleased to introduce you to Alan, a PatientsLikeMe member who is living with congestive heart failure (CHF) following a heart attack.  A few years ago, he had a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) – or a battery-operated mechanical pump – surgically implanted to help his heart continue to pump blood to his body.  What has he learned from his experience, and what’s his lifestyle like today?  Find out that and more in our interview.

1) Tell us about your heart attack and how this journey began.

I suffered a heart attack some twelve years ago. While working in the yard one very cold afternoon I had “cold sweats” and a very sore throat. I started feeling better and decided to go to work the following day. Late in the morning of the second day I began feeling much worse and called my wife and told her she needed to pick me up and we should go to the hospital together. I told my wife and the triage nurse in the ER that I was developing pneumonia.

After a short time in the ER a technician came in and conducted an EKG. He immediately told the other personnel in the ER that I was exhibiting “tombstone T’s.” I was rushed to the Cath Lab and had a stent inserted into a vein in my heart. I never suffered any of the “classic” signs of a heart attack (crushing chest pain, pain in my arm(s), losing consciousness, losing the use of any extremity, etc.) Eight weeks after the stent implant I had open heart surgery (aorta valve, four bypasses, repair aortic aneurysms, etc).

2) What’s your lifestyle like today with your implanted LVAD?

Living with the LVAD has changed for the good and for not so good. I am somewhat limited in what I can do and not do, as opposed to my pre-LVAD life. There are activities I absolutely cannot do, and some I choose not to do. I cannot swim, bathe or shower without a special waterproof bag for electronics, fly the airplane we owned, drive fast cars and fast boats, hunt in the mountains, or bass fish in Mexico and South America. I have found that I can cook, watch grandchildren graduate from high school and college, watch great grandchildren come into the world and watch them grow and change.

3) What’s been the most unexpected part of your experience?

The most unexpected part of the heart disease journey was discovering that it did not take a club and a ball, a gun (shotgun or rifle), a rod and reel, flying an airplane, going off to fish and/or hunt, owning a fast car, etc., to be happy. Some of the other things I discovered were: vacations do not have to be long (distance and duration), they just have to be taken with someone you deeply care for, and who deeply cares for you; you discover which of your friends are sincere and true, and endeavoring to be a true and sincere friend in return; and many of the simple pleasures in life have been lost along the way in life’s journey.

Soaking in the Sunset:  One of Alan's Rediscovered Pleasures

4) What do you want others to know about their hearts?

Hopefully, even if it is only one person, what I say here might preclude that person from making the same misguided and poor decisions I made concerning diet, lifestyle, stress and the “things” it requires to be happy.


World Heart Day: Taking Prevention to Heart

Posted October 1st, 2012 by

Did your heart beat a little faster this weekend?  This past Saturday was World Heart Day, sponsored by the World Heart Federation.

World Heart Day 2012

Founded in 2000, this global event was created to educate the public about heart disease and stroke, the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 17.3 million lives each year.  What’s a major concern is that these numbers are rising.  By 2030, it’s expected that 23 million people will die from cardiovascular disease each year – which is more than the entire population of Australia. The main message of World Heart Day is that at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if the main risk factors – tobacco, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity – are addressed.   That means that the way you live is inextricably tied to the health of your heart.

Children Are a Major Focus of World Heart Day

Children are a particular concern for the campaign as kids often have little control over their environment, lifestyle and food choices.  Unless families around the world prioritize a smoke-free home with healthy meals and regular exercise, the children of today are going to be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.  How can you help today’s kids have a strong hearts and a healthy future?  Check out the Kids on the Move Toolkit and Superheart Cartoon Leaflet for Kids to learn how you can put together a customized program for your family, school or community.

Like many health conditions, heart disease may not cross your mind until a human face is put on the disease, especially a face that looks like you or your loved ones.  That’s why the World Heart Federation is collecting personal stories via short conversations in person or by phone.  If you’ve been affected by heart disease or stroke, learn how you can participate in this global project.  Your story can help both world leaders and fellow community members focus on heart health with greater urgency.  We also encourage you to exchange support and tips with PatientsLikeMe members who have experienced a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, valvular heart disease or other cardiovascular conditions.

Speaking of individual stories, check out our interview with Alan, a PatientsLikeMe member who’s living with congestive heart failure (CHF).


Be of Good Heart Today

Posted September 29th, 2011 by

Today, September 29th, is World Heart Day. Sponsored by the World Heart Federation, this annual event was started in 2000 to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke, the world’s leading cause of death with more than 17.1 million lives lost each year. All around the globe, activities such as talks, screenings, walks, concerts and sporting events have been organized for today.

World Heart Day 2011

One of the main goals of World Heart Day is to educate the public about the fact that at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided. All it takes is controlling the three main risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. Beyond those, another related risk factor is high cholesterol, which was the subject of yesterday’s blog post.

Here at PatientsLikeMe, a number of patients report cardiovascular conditions as well as conditions that put them at high risk for heart disease or stroke. They include:

If you’ve been diagnosed with one of these conditions, join our growing community and connect with patients like you today. Have a loved one who’s at risk? Educate yourself about the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke. According to the World Heart Federation, over 70 percent of all cardiac and breathing emergencies occur in the home when a family member is present and available to help a victim.