Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When will I have my heart attack?

That sounds like a silly question, but in reality it is a pretty important one. 

I was surprised to learn that a 37-year-old former co-worker had a heart attack last month. She blessedly survived, but hearing the news just set me back on my heels. Jen is a healthy, active (i.e. marathon runner) mom of two and I would never imagine that she would have a heart attack.

Me? Have a heart attack? That's just far too easy to imagine. I've been thinking about it since I was 11. 

[Flashback sequence] During an exam with a new pediatrician, he was concerned about the slow pace of my heart. I had to do a stress test right away and that freaked out my mom. He couldn't find anything wrong with my heart and I'm sure mom's heart must have stopped several times during the visit.

Immediately after the appointment, we stopped by my dad's office (which was right next door to the clinic) and, after hearing the story, he chuckled and told mom that I have the Harty heart; my heart just didn't go as fast as others. His mom had the same issue as did her mom. It's a family thing.

As any 11-year-old will do, I shrugged it off and moved on.

I think I was in junior high (1970's) when the cardiologists at Mayo Clinic found a blockage in my dad's aorta. They didn't operate because they felt the surgical mortality rate was too high. From that point on, our family started waiting for something to happen.

In 1988, my dad had emergency quintuple bypass surgery at Saint Marys Hospital and for the next six years, we had many trips to Rochester.

In April 1994, my dad suffered congestive heart failure and passed away. In the weeks leading up to his death, his diabetes was out-of-control and that also contributed to the heart failure.

In doing my family genealogy, I was able to view the death certificates of many of my ancestors. Both my Grandma Harty's (my dad's mother) and my great-grandmother's (her mom) death certificates listed the same cause of death: congestive heart failure with complications from diabetes.

So that's what Dad meant about having the Harty heart. Oh, joy.

So what have I done about avoiding my family's legacy? Actually very little because who has heart attacks in their 40's? I figured I would start worrying about it in my late 50's. 

I guess I have been lying to myself. It's time for me to be pro-active and learn about heart disease, get off my duff to start exercising, and start eating right to avoid diabetes.

All things considered, I just might be over-due and running on luck.

P.S. My former co-worker has started a blog about her experiences and recovery, you might want to check it out. She's a fabulous writer.

1 comment:

preeti said...

Nice post there is. We all should take care of our health. Because we should know what is internal signs of our body for better future.

With regards: Treatment of osteoarthritis

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