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Heart Scare!

Not how I planned to start September

I’m sat here dictating to my computer as even typing hurts. So seen as right now running is off the agenda let me tell you about the latest bump in the road. I’ve said to people this week, if someone wrote my life as a film they would say it was too far fetched, yet here I am living a life that keeps throwing massive hurdles in my way. After what was an awesome week of training with two massive speed sessions that indicated to Jo and myself I was on the cusp of some fast times again (more on that in my upcoming training blog). I decided to have Monday morning off and do it later, so I could enjoy bank holiday Monday with my family. We had opted to go to Lincoln to walk around the Castle and do a bit of sight seeing. After first calling at Costa for breakfast we set off down the M1 to Lincoln.

Not long after passing Meadowhall did I start to have heart palpitations. At first I just ignored it but as we headed on the A57 the pain was getting worse. I put my heart rate app on my Apple watch and it showed my heart rate was jumping from 45 BPM up to 145 BPM. Despite not actually moving. The pain was now shooting down my left arm, I had gone all clammy and Sarah said I had gone grey. Sarah kept wanting to turn back and I said it will go off but it wasn’t. As we was about to hit the A1 Sarah turned around and phoned 111. After speaking to them they said I needed urgent hospital treatment so arranged to meet at a petrol station on the A57, Sarah driving one way, the ambulance the other.

By the time the ambulance arrived the pain was unbearable, it felt like someone was crushing my chest. The ECG was going like the clappers, with the paramedic saying my electronics were going haywire. They put me on a stretcher as I couldn’t even stand and into back of the ambulance. In there they gave me Asprin to chew and then administered two sprays under my tongue. This brought the pain down. They gave me the option of either Bassetlaw or Rotherham. I picked Rotherham as was closer to home but due to Covid I had to go alone.

While I was rushed to A&E, my wife’s car decided not to start as the battery was flat so she had to get someone with jump leads to give her some juice. Thankfully the garage owner was able to help. Sarah was so scared as she has been through all this before with Molly, she was so strong then but had to be extremely strong again so Molly didn’t pick up on how scared she was for me. Upon arrival in A&E they took bloods and kept me hooked up to a monitor but they had to alter the settings as my low resting heart rate kept setting off the alarm. The first doctor came and said I was out of any immediate danger but needed more blood tests before he could say anymore.

The blood test is called Trops – A troponin test measures the levels of troponin T or troponin I proteins in the blood. These proteins are released when the heart muscle has been damaged, such as occurs with a heart attack. The more damage there is to the heart, the greater the amount of troponin. My first test came back as 5, they didn’t go into all the technical detail but Results are given in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The normal range for troponin is between 0 and 0.4 ng/mL. So it showed signs of trauma to my heart. They decided to keep me in over night for observation and more tests to be carried out the next day.

They allowed Sarah to bring me some overnight stuff but by Monday evening I felt OK, tired but I think I was running on adrenaline. I only got to see her briefly and I felt rubbish but was putting on a brave face for her. All the time I was asking when can I get out as I had a 1500m race coming up and need to train. The evening doctor did his rounds and said I had all the signs of an angina attack but because of my fitness, age, etc it was highly unlikely but I needed to have an echo done of my heart as well as ink to see if I had any blockages. These were done over night. By now I had injections in both arms one hand and also my stomach. Plus I had to have another Covid test (not nice).

A restless night with constant checks done meant I was itching to go home. I just had gotten it into my head it was nothing. However, throughout the day the doctors kept coming doing their tests but would not give me any clear answers. It was gone lunch by the time they had performed everything. However, it was gone 4 by the time the Cardiologist came to see me.

This is when I realized I was a very lucky man. The doctor explained I had suffered mild Heart Attack! caused by mild Cardiac Arrhythmia and they think I have an irregular heart beat which needs further investigation. They call it a mild heart attack but I didn’t have a full blockage but the evidence of the tests showed I probably had some fat floating around my pipes from when I was obese and it had got lodged in a valve causing the attack, this is what caused all the spikes on the ECG, or put in technical terms a 1st degree heat blockage (least severe).

The echocardiogram showed my LVEF (ejection fraction) at 55-60% which was within normal parameters, the right atrium mildly dilated they put that down to being an endurance athlete. Trivial tricuspid regurgitation (I had to Google this) . This a disorder in which this valve does not close tight enough. This problem causes blood to flow backward into the right upper heart chamber (atrium) when the right lower heart chamber (ventricle) contracts. Thankfully in general there is no cause for concern. trivial tricuspid regurgitation is common. It does not cause symptoms or have an effect on the heart function. Finally it also showed mild pulmonary regurgitation, this occurs when the pulmonary valve doesn’t completely close and allows some blood to leak back into the heart. This condition is also known as pulmonic or pulmonary insufficiency.

They will be keeping an eye on both my valves going forward. I am awaiting further tests to see if I have an irregular heartbeat but good news is all I need is time to recover. I have been given a time frame to when the minimum time before I can resume training and I am leaving it to my body, wife and coach to make the call. Tuesday night I slept like a log but then yesterday felt like I had been hit by a bus. My chest, arm, back is so tender and I have no energy at all. I am counting my blessings as the doctor said had I been my old weight I would have probably had a massive heart attack and would not be here to tell the tale. Instead she firmly believes whatever it was that caused this was a one off and I should be able to resume full training, but to take it one day at a time.

This has hit me harder then my cancer diagnosis as that is just sat there doing nothing but this has really scared me and while I am gutted as I felt like I had turned a corner with my speed, I know I only have one heart and need to look after it. Now even though I don’t smoke, drink or eat crap I still want to do what I can to make sure this never happens again. Right now I just looking forward to not aching every where.

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