Three years after a heart attack
No one told me the life expectancy after a heart attack is five years.
Mine happened on New Years day 2014, today is 4th of April 2017. Even without doing the math it is clear that my timeline does not look good.
It seems it is my problem. But it is problem of so many people. I will try to find a solution for myself. This blog will be my journal of what I do to improve my heart and what the result is.
I have three options:
1. See if doctors can help
2. See what other ideas are out there
3. See if I can solve the problem myself
Status check: I’ll explain the mechanism leading to dying in five years after a heart attack. Part of my heart muscles had no oxygen during my heart attack and died. My body removed them and filled the hole with scar tissue. Scar tissue does not contract, so my heart wants to-but can’t pump blood as before. My heart ejection function is 35 (whatever measure it is) instead of the normal 60. It means that even when I am at rest my body parts get half of the blood (oxygen and food) it needs.
The anatomy: So all my cells get partial food and oxygen ration. The watch dog of the process is the sympathetic system. Since the day of the heart attack it is in panic, sending message after message to the heart begging for ‘more blood flow’. My heart is working over it’s physical ability, and being a wounded muscle, with every beat it is actually making itself weaker. So this overworking is what is slowly but surely leading the heart toward physical breakdown.
I can’t help my heart. I want to give it a break but I have no way of doing it. Even if I am at full rest my heart is overworked.
The body can repair every part of itself. It even can make enough stem cells to repair the heart muscles. But there is a catch. The heart has to be at rest which is the ‘regeneration’ state. Because the heart is in a ‘flight and fight’ mode it can not go into regeneration cycle and the self repair is slower than the self distraction.
Personal experience: What does it feel to be in this state? First I had to accept that I can’t be on my feet for more that one hour. I want to, but I can’t. I went trough a period apologizing to my wife for every nap I had to take. It wasn’t always like this. The first and second year after the heart attack I was functioning fine, but this last year I sleep most of the time. I’d say I sleep 18 hours a day.
Walking slowly is the next level above resting. Even though there are days I can walk for five some days even ten minutes, most of the time I can walk for about a minute and then my leg gets cramped from oxygen deprivation.
This is not the bad part. The bad part is that everyday my heart is worn down further and no one knows what to do about it.
My goal is to find solution, to fix my heart to its pre-heart attack state. I don’t believe in magic pills, herbs, powders, liquids, procedures. I believe in allowing the body to heal on its own by eating right, target exercising, protecting body’s balance.
Can doctors help me? No. Doctors does not have a cure. In fact they got nothing. The doctors have one pill that is a symptom suppressor. It is not a good thing. Let say your car has the ‘check engine’ light on. You go to the car doctors and they cut the wires going to the light. This is a symptom suppressor.
What do the symptom suppressor pills do? The pill they would give me will shut up my sympathetic system. There will be no more ‘we need more blood messages’. My heart will start pumping at slower rate. This gives a little break to my heart but reduces further the already insufficient blood flow carrying oxygen and food to the cells of my body. My brain will get even less food and oxygen and will go into ‘fog’ and ‘depression’. My legs will start to swallow. My organs will start to shrink. The doctors know about this and the standard protocol is to prescribe pills for depression and for the swallowing, ED etc. … But then more bad will come to my body, and they have pills for them too. The word is that I will live a few years longer. I believe it. And still hate the whole concept. I won’t take it.
There is a procedure where doctors implant stem sells in the heart walls. The implanted stem cells grow hear-muscle cells inside the scar region. The only information I found is from a gentlemen that had the procedure and went on-camera about the results. So after a heart attack he had an ejection fraction 25 (or less) and the procedure improved his ejection fraction to 40. No question, it is a good thing. But if the ejection fraction is 40 they in-fact give him a few more good years and that’s all. I am nod dismissing the great future of this procedure. But in my mind I had ejection fraction of 40 an year go and see me where I am today, can’t get from my bed. I am looking for solution that will give me ejection fraction of 60.
There is a clinic in which the patient’s lower body are putt into “compression ring” which squeezes several times a minute the blood from the lower body back in direction of the heart. The web page is so well written, I wanted to go there right this minute. I called them on the phone and spend a lot of time asking about how much improvement could I expect in worst, average, or best case scenario provided that I am starting at 35 ejection fraction. They did not, and did not, and did not wanted to answer my question. So they don’t have solution.
- Intermediate fasting
- Eat mostly row veggies
EXERCISE: There are a few gyms exercising people after heart attack. They say that on average they improve the ejection fraction by 10% to 20% in two months. They say that patients that run get better results than rapid walkers, which get better results than normal speed walkers.
Three priceless key points I take from this.
- I CAN exercise (safety monitoring a must)
- My heart CAN improve
- More exercise gives better results (safety monitoring a must)
INTERMEDIATE FASTING-eat 500 calories one day and all you want the other: Fasting starts six to eight hours after the last meal. During fasting the body uses fat for energy, recycles (eats) old or damaged cells, produces stem cells for replacing, repairing missing or damaged cells, and for adding more cells. A piece of information suggests that stem sells are made in the fasting stage but do the repair during the non-fasting stage. Another piece of information is that the strongest man in recorded history (a Greek man) used to fast two time each year for 45 days each.
The next thing to resolve is how to measure the progress. The best thing is to measure my ejection fraction. Can’t do it. The equipment is expensive.
Blood pressure-My blood pressure as I am writing this line is 122/73 with resting pulse of 70.There is not much I can use blood pressure for.
ECG- I can DIY ECG but the info is not useful at all.
Amazon is selling (I am not associated in any way or form) a monitor that tells the pulse rate, the oxygen level, and the pressure strength. It is a guess but the guess is that my oxygen number and my pulse strength number will be so low that I can use them as number to use as base line, to watch improving, and compare them to numbers of fully healthy people.
What I have done so far? Well a month ago I had liver, kidney, eyes, skin, stomach all going very bad. Long story short I did 21 days fasting. As I start to improve in health I stopped being serious and began to cheat on my fasting. I did improve a lot, liver, kidney, eyes, and skin are out of trouble, but I only improved I did not cured anything mostly because once I ended my fast I started eating everything I see.
For three days now I go to the pool and sunbathe my front and back for about half an hour total. Some say the sun is not strong enough in April to put vitamin D in the skin, but I go and I feel better. Just taking vitamin D in tablets does not do much for me.
I started exercising two days ago. I do hope scotch on the kitchen tile floor. It is great aerobic exercise and is not boring at all. I do it maybe for a minute. If I need to rest and take my breath in the middle or at any time I do it. Not damaging my heart is first priority. Next I do pull ups-three times X 10 pulls. Pull ups are easier on my heart than a few seconds of aerobics. Next, I have a medicine ball with which I play socker in the kitchen for about a minute. So far I already have a four minutes of exercise, and I was not bored at all. Next I have a stomach exerciser which I use for about 15 seconds. I do this two to four times a day. I must say- I watch my heart pulse rate and my breathing very carefully. I stop and take break the moment I feel it’s too much for my heart. In my mind if my heart hurts it does not strengthen and heal but gets damaged. The heart can start hurting very fast. Yesterday I did two more jumps after my pulse got too fast and my heart start hurting. I stopped, I drunk water, I lied in bed for an hour but my heart kept hurting for most of the day. Today I gave it one more day of full rest and tomorrow I’ll start exercising with (carefully) again.