No blockages: Living with non-obstructive heart disease

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Annette PompaAnnette Pompa of Pennsylvania lives with a cardiac diagnosis I’d never even heard of until I, too, was diagnosed with it several months after surviving a heart attack. It’s called Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD) or Small Vessel Disease. Unlike the classic Hollywood Heart Attack I’d initially experienced – which is typically caused by a significantly blocked major coronary artery – those of us diagnosed with MVD or coronary spasm disorders have few if any detectable blockages obstructing flow in the major blood vessels feeding the heart muscle. Yet we can experience the same distressing symptoms of a heart attack. Annette is a former art teacher who was barely 41 years old when MVD “came barging into my life”, as she explains. With her permission, I’m reprinting this transcript of an American Heart Association presentation that Annette gave recently about living with a non-obstructive heart condition.

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“This is my story. I represent an often misunderstood population living with a very different type of heart disease. Sadly, there are many more like me with MVD who are simply not being recognized – and indeed even dismissed. Symptoms often persist even without any visible blockage or reason for the angina, shortness of breath and fatigue which often accompany the condition. It is crazy, right? Here I was seemingly healthy – yet ended up battling heart disease.  Continue reading “No blockages: Living with non-obstructive heart disease”

A cardiologist’s advice on how to use this “wonder drug”

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

pillboxThe heart drug called nitroglycerin was once described like this in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation:

“Newer drugs quickly replace older remedies. This has not been the case with nitroglycerin, now in continuous medical use for more than a century.

“Although other applications for it have been found in cardiology, nitroglycerin is the mainstay for affording rapid, indeed almost immediate, pain relief for angina pectoris.

“At a time when the cost of pharmaceuticals is growing out of reach for many, nitroglycerin is still obtainable for pennies and remains one of the best buys in medicine.”     Continue reading “A cardiologist’s advice on how to use this “wonder drug””

After your heart attack: what now?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Post-heart attack, when my shocked and stunned Victoria Hospice co-workers came to visit me in the Coronary Intensive Care Unit of the hospital where we all worked, I promised them that, although I probably couldn’t come to work the next day, I would certainly be back at my desk by the day after that.  Little did I know at that crazily optimistic and possibly drug-addled moment that there was absolutely zero chance of me actually being able to keep that promise.

In fact, recovery from a cardiac event can take a surprisingly long time, both physically and emotionally – much more than I could have ever predicted.  Continue reading “After your heart attack: what now?”