I had a pretty good year by anyone’s standards. I had never completed a brevet before but I finished the full series plus a 1200 this year. I feel like I can get on the bike today and complete just about any brevet. I’m not overly fast but I’m pretty steady.
I’ve noticed on several occasions that I get a little dizzy when my heart rate exceeds 177. I’m in my mid-50’s and I have no idea how others feel when they exceed a particular limit. Knowing that cardiac disease is prevalent in my family’s history, I decided it was a good idea to go see a cardiologist.
For background, my father died of heart failure and both of his parents have a history of heart attacks. That’s probably why I’ve been working so hard over the last four years. I’ve dropped 40+ lbs by diet, the gym, kayaking and cycling at various points. Now, obviously, it’s cycling.
I instantly liked the doc I selected – youngish, confident, nice guy. He ordered the standard battery of tests including a echocardiogram, blood tests and a stress test.
The stress test appeared to show adequate blood flow while resting but when they laid images from the stress portion over the resting portion, there didn’t appear to be adequate flow. Time from an angiogram.
Right after that news, they called to say that the echo-cardiogram was normal meaning that flow was good and that there were no structural issues.
They wanted us to come in again so we managed an appt with the nurse practitioner who was able to schedule the angiogram for yesterday. During that appt, she remarked that my cholesterol was a little high and that the angiogram has three possibilities:
1. The stress test provided a false normal and there are no issues.
2. There’s an issue and the doctor can identify some small amount of blockage. They’ll decide on the spot if it can be treated with medicine OR if they’ll need to insert a stent or two. If a stent is required, I’ll be in the hospital overnight but the recovery is fast…on my feet the next day.
3. Worst case: the blockage is severe and they’ll refer me to a cardiac surgeon.
My bet was on the second outcome above. My family history, the increased cholesterol, etc was what influenced my expectations.
I thought, well, if that’s the case, we’ll deal with it. It seems to be fairly common – a quick survey uncovered half a dozen friends who had already been through it. A sign of the times I suppose.
They rolled me into the cardio cath lab at 0830 and by 0905, they were done.
No blockages – blood flow was fine! I was surprised to say the least but when I think about it, all the efforts over the last 5-7 years have really paid off.
We made a follow-up appt with the cardiologist to talk about the dizziness issue but it could be that I’m bumping the 220-age limit and it’s my body’s normal reaction but I’m damn glad that I did the tests and have confirmation of what it’s NOT.
Make sure you listen to your body with an eye towards your family history! For me to know I don’t have any blockage and to have assurance that there are no structural issues is a huge relief to me.