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Wed, Feb 6 3:43pm · Understanding ICDs – Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator in Heart & Blood Health

I had a heart attack when I was 48 and had a couple episodes of v-tachycardia and my ejection fraction severely reduced as a result of my heart attack. As a 'precaution' my cardiologist suggested an ICD. I decided to go ahead with it. The device clinic checks the data it sends and also in person at the clinic to make sure things are functioning correctly. For over five years, it was there 'just in case' it would be needed like automobile air bags. Last fall, the device clinic called me and asked me if I recalled having any issues. They told me the device had shocked my heart and when they told me the time, I said I was sound asleep and didn't remember anything. Then about 4 months later, I was shoveling some heavy wet snow and apparently my heart rate was higher than I realized and then it hit me with its shock. It scared me because this was the first time I actually felt it, and it took me by surprise. The way I describe the feeling to my family is that someone put their fist around my heart and gave it a tight squeeze. Had I not had it ready on standby to go into action when needed, I know I wouldn't be here responding to this thread. So yes, it is uncomfortable, but it happens so quickly it's over by the time you realize what's just happened. The harder part is actually processing what has just happened…my life was spared yet again. After an EKG to double check things, we discovered my heart was in a-fib so I had a procedure done under sedation where they shocked my heart back into normal rhythm. I've learned there are different types of ICD units and they can have multiple wire leads from them to the heart depending on different conditions. Because I only had V-tach at the time of implant, they only felt the need for a single wire lead to my ventricle. When the device battery runs out and will need to be replaced, I'm sure they will look at recent history and determine if more leads are needed or other therapy is warranted. In the meantime, I've still got 4-5 years of batter left (provided it doesn't fire too frequently). Would I do it again, in a heartbeat. Am I scared of it firing again, of course, but now when I'm doing strenuous exercise, I take it slower. Going to be 55 in a couple months and shortly after that we are anxious to welcome our first grandbaby into our family! I have no regrets having had it implanted, it is through that machine and my faith I'm still here. When I go to public buildings and see the external defibulator units hanging on walls, I smile knowing that I've got my own unit to protect me and I won't have to rely on someone knowing what to do to bring my rhythm back to normal.

Wed, Jan 9 8:35am · Cerebellar Stroke - experience/treatment/recovery in Stroke & Cerebrovascular Diseases

Hello @bermuda , as @kanaazpereira mentioned, I had a period of time where I encountered several health issues all within a seemingly short period of time. It all started with a heart attack at age 48, an episode of V-tach while in the ICU recovering from the heart attack, a couple of ischemic cerebellar strokes a couple weeks later, low EF as a result of heart damage, discovery of PFO hole, and then a bout with seizures. The seizures took me by surprise as they were about 18 months after the heart attack occurred, and by then I thought I had all under control. Because of the low EF, the cardiologist suggested several preventative options, "just in case" to potentially thwart other episodes. The ICD was suggested to be implanted in case my heart decided to go into ventricular tachycardia and would be there to shock my heart back into normal rhythm should it not return on its own. The PFO closure procedure was suggested as I they could see some bubbles passing through during the echo with IV contrast. With both the hole and low EF, the concern is that of a clot forming. I am on warfarin for life to also help prevent further clot formation and the likelihood of another stroke. I've not had any problems or issues resulting from the PFO closure. My seizures have been controlled with medication (Kepra). I've been issue free until late last year when my ICD fired off twice. Once while I was sleeping and I ddn't even know it happened until the device clinic called me and asked if I was doing ok. The second time it went off I was shoveling really heavy/wet snow. At that point, the cardiologist scheduled a visit and we discovered I was in a-fib. Had an electro cardioversion procedure done and since then in combination with some new meds, the a-fib has stayed away. The point of describing all this is; over 6 years ago prevention 'options' were provided and I am thankful I chose them. If it weren't for the ICD, I wouldn't be here today. The others in combination with meds I know have helped me from encountering any other issues. Of course there is not guarantee I won't suffer another stroke at some point down the road, but for now I am doing everything I can to minimize that risk. This year I turn 55 and I feel I'm in better health than I was leading up to my heart attack 7 years ago. Are you on any sort of blood thinner? I wish you well!

Apr 30, 2018 · Congestive Heart Failure in young people in Heart & Blood Health

Happy to hear your appointment with the cardiologist went well! It sounds like you are making great strides in improving your eating habits and overall health! Keep up the great work!

Apr 2, 2018 · Heart Rhythm Conditions – Welcome to the group in Heart Rhythm Conditions

@chica It's understandable to be nervous and reasons vary for individuals as to why they might be encouraged to get one. I had a heart attack in 2012 followed by a couple different strokes. My cardiologist team recommended an ICD for me mostly as a precautionary step. While I was in ICU following the placement of one stent and a couple balloon procedures to increase blood flow, the nurses rushed into my room with a surprised look on their faces when I began talking with them. They asked how I was feeling and if I felt anything strange. I said I hadn't noticed anything peculiar (since I already had weird sensations being hooked up with some type of internal pump in my artery to attempt to help the heart recover. The nurses said their monitors showed that I was in v-tach (Ventricular tachycardia) and somehow my heart managed to get out of v-tach on its own. This might have been the second time I had v-tach, but not sure. Anyhow, with having that happen and low ejection fraction, the team recommended it as a precautionary approach. Luckily, I have not had any heart rhythm problems since having it implanted to need it to shock me. I was scared, and still a little bit, about what that first shock might feel like if it ever happens; however, I outweigh that fear with the risk of needing to have my heart shocked and what could happen if I didn't have it. I have the Merlin wireless unit that automatically downloads all the information the ICD monitors and the cardiology department reads to determine if events are happening and if I need to be seen. I am seen in person every 6 months where they test the unit by placing a device over my ICD (works through my clothing even) and control the ICD and run a couple tests, such as pacing my heart, as the ICD can be used as a pacemaker in times of need. There is no shock or any pain at all when they do this test, just feel my heart beat faster for a few seconds. Hopefully I'll never have to have it shock my heart, but it provides security of mind knowing it's there if my heart needs it. I've had it in over 5 years and my last check showed it still had another 4-5 years before needing to have the battery replaced. The incision was sore for a couple days, but it's manageable. The other thing I worried about was will it interfere with sleeping (I have a low heart rate) and while working out in the gym. So far I haven't noticed my heart being affected while sleeping or exercising by the device trying to pace my heart differently than what it is doing on its own. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I feel it's worth having in place just in case. I wish you the best!

Mar 28, 2018 · Congestive Heart Failure in young people in Heart & Blood Health

What he probably means by not permanent is eliminating salt completely forever. Once you get your other conditions under control, it might be possible to adhere to a low-salt diet instead of a no-salt diet. Have you tried any of the salt substitutes to flavor your food? Not all of them are salt free so read the labels, but many are very, very low, or no salt at all. The best is to cook your food with the seasonings so the flavors are cooked into your chicken. If you sprinkle on top of cooked meat, they don't taste as good that way to me. Keep experimenting with different salt free seasonings so you can keep your taste buds from getting fatigued on the same food, and that way you can keep enjoying your meals and not feel as if you are punishing yourself by having to eat bland food.

Mar 28, 2018 · Congestive Heart Failure in young people in Heart & Blood Health

It's good to hear that from what you say, it sounds like you are making changes and doing what you can to make a difference in your life; whether it is meds or diet, or both! I'm not a health care provider, so my information is from what I've heard or read. Gastric approaches are not without risks and even when successfully performed aren't a guarantee in and of themselves to fix all interrelated problems. Getting used to healthy choices and figuring out what meds work for you are vital in ensuring any other procedures performed have the best chance of being successful. You'll get there, but it's not going to happen overnight, so that's going to take commitment and the ability to keep yourself motivated with these changes. As I said earlier, start with small goals that are attainable to keep from getting discouraged. A little progress, no matter how small it seems or feels, is still PROGRESS! Keep up the great work!

Mar 1, 2018 · Congestive Heart Failure in young people in Heart & Blood Health

With all that is going on with your heart, at least having low cholesterol is one less thing to have to try and manage, so that is good news! You are off to eating right. It's going to take time and will seem slow to make any progress, but even small progress is movement in the right direction. I often eat egg whites by pouring some in a non-stick pan, throwing in some chopped peppers, onions. Season with some Old Bay seasoning, maybe a little cayenne pepper. Make sure you do what you can to make what you eat taste good so it feels like a reward vs. punishing yourself by having to eat it. You can find fantastic ideas on ways to make food tasty and interesting via the web. Although you're on a diuretic, I think it's still important that you make sure to drink plenty of water. I'd ask you doctor about this to be sure as you want to work with your Lasix, not against it. Fresh fruit is also good to snack on. Variety is important to fight against taste fatigue. You can sauté or broil your vegetables too with a little bit of olive oil and seasonings. If you've had a lot of fluid build up, you'll see the scale move quickly with the Lasix, but that is water weight. Try not to get discouraged when it seems that you're not making progress. Your body is adjusting, and forming new healthy habits is a bigger step than seeing the scale drop. Consistency will get you there. Stay motivated and I'm sure you'll get there!

Feb 28, 2018 · Congestive Heart Failure in young people in Heart & Blood Health

Again, I'm not a doctor, but with the regurgitation around your valves they want to do what they can to prevent the formation of blood clots and the Xarelto I recall seeing advertised to combat that. The Lasix is used to reduce excess fluid in your body sometimes a result of poor circulation. The others I think are different types of blood pressure medicine and they work differently. I don't know which is which, but one type works to lower blood pressure and the other type is used to relax vessel walls making it easier for blood to flow. Avoiding salt is necessary as when ingested can contribute to fluid retention, and this leads to higher blood pressure. Avoiding salt altogether is nearly impossible, especially if you buy prepared meals or canned foods. They will generally be very high in sodium. So what you can do right away, is to not add any salt to anything you cook. Look for items that say low salt to use for cooking. The best is to use fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables and fresh cuts of meat (not deli meat as these are usually loaded with sodium, your fresh cuts are usually unseasoned). Don't expect to become a salt czar overnight. But set yourself some goals to try to keep your salt level intake per day max. Did you doctor give you a number? You probably will want to try and get your total salt intake down to 1500mg to ideally 1000mg or less per day. It won't happen overnight, but set goals and work to get there, just don't beat yourself up trying to get there. Also, every person's response to medications are different, so don't be surprised if some changes are made to which meds and dosages as your body adjusts and responds to them. Stay tuned into your body and talk to your doctor if something doesn't seem right. Lastly, I'm guessing since I don't recognize any of these as a cholesterol reducing medicine that your heart failure wasn't due to blockages from cholesterol, but rather blood clot or high blood pressure. Did your doctor say anything about your cholesterol numbers? I didn't have high cholesterol; however, I did have a blocked artery that was opened with a stent and others were ballooned. My doctor said even though my numbers weren't bad, I likely have hereditary predisposition that allowed what cholesterol I had to block. It's not an exact science. Since my heart attack, I have a very low ejection fraction, so am on anticoagulant to prevent further clots and additional strokes. I also am on several meds too, but once we got the dosages tuned in, I think I'm doing alright. 😉 You will too! It's been 5 1/2 years since I had my heart attack.