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Ablation, risk factors, PTSD. Seven months post ablation.


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MartinKennedy Find out more about MartinKennedy
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  • Ablation, risk factors, PTSD. Seven months post ablation.

    To my friends in the list...

    Have been very, very active and busy. Ablation in January and now able to work out on a treadmill for sustained period at 3.6 mph\7% grade. No cardiac symptoms except occasional lightheadedness when I try to move too quickly from a low position (sitting, leaning squatting) to standing. Medication has been reduced from 200 mg. per day of Toprol to only 50. 20 mg lipitor, full aspirin. Also been taking Zoloft for PTSD (post-traumatic stress) and some Wellbutrin for depression and an occastional tab for anxiety...BUT...BUT....BUT

    The NEWS is that I am being re-evaluated by Dr. Andrew Littman, a psychiatrist in Boston who spent 20 years treating cardiac patients at MGH where he also conducted and still conducts research....we are going to totally revamp my psychiatric medications as a result of his work.

    PTSD...aka...post-traumatic stress disorder...occurs when we have been exposed to a trauma...in my case sexual abuse. it can happen to soldiers, folks who witness a murder, folks who experience a sudden loss, all kinds of things...it results in a complex of responses including anxiety, stress, depression, panic attacks...you get the picture.

    Well, Dr. Littman is following cardiac patients and his area of interest is early onset of cardiovascular disease (blockage of arteries).

    He finds that 35% of clinical populations of younger cardiac patients with cardiovascular disease are also suffering from the impact of PTSD. PTSD is a HUGE risk factor for disease.

    Why should WE be concerned? The combination of HCM and other risk factors can be very dangerous, as we found in my case. My symptoms were rapidly intensifying a year ago...out of proportion to the HCM clinical observations. Until they went in and investigated during an emergency angiogram...what we did not realize is taht I had a 70% blockage of the descending artery...the same artery that feeds the part of my heart that is affected with HCM.

    The two years prior to my emergency angioplasty were spent in extreme stress. I was terribly upset about the constant barrage of p.r. about the sexual abuse scandal in the church (yes, I was abused by a priest) and it totally retraumatized me.

    I have been convinced that my extreme stress exacerbated my deteriorating health and this new information reinforces that observation.

    I guess my message to all of us is to be extra careful about our overall health issues in light of the synergistic potential of interactions of various health conditions with our heart problems.

    In my case the following conditions impact my health:

    1. HCM.
    2. Propensity to high cholesterol, apparently a genetic predisposition.
    3. Severe sleep apnea (heavy snoring but it is really an event where I stop breathing up to 200 times per hour).
    4. Alcoholism.
    5. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    6. Tendancy to gain weight.

    I am 52, 5-7 and weigh between 192 and 196. I should lose at least 20 pounds. The issues in losing weight include reaction to not drinking (tend to gain weight), Zoloft meds can lead to carb craving and slowdown in activity due to heart limitations. As stated I am getting more active but really need to spend up to an hour daily in active physical activity. Working on it.

    Luckily I kept fairly active prior to the need for surgery and kept walking between operations. It probably helped to save my life. I also was working on the emotional stuff and using a CPAP machine to alleviate the sleep apnea condition.

    Frankly, the key to getting on the road to recovery was when I stopped drinking and got into AA where I learned how to start dealing with life on life's terms. I will not go into all of it here but suffice it to say that if you have HCM, don't also succumb to alcohol or drug abuse...it will inevitably be a disastrous combination. I believe that getting sober and thus eliminating a form of self-medication for the stress of my life...led me to getting more in touch with all the feelings I was having...got me some help for that but also made me more aware of how badly I felt. You see, I could no longer blame my lack of energy or fatigue on having had too much to drink the night before....there was no logical reason for me to feel so poorly.

    I got the help I needed at the right time.

    The spiritual aspect of this whole expereince is most profound. I am lucky to be alive and know that. I also know that the odds were running out for me. Many friends have succumbed to cancer and other illnesses in my world. Somehow I got a second chance and I am not going to blow it this time.

    So, coach here says: stay as active as possible, get yourself on a good diet, follow doctors orders, insist on aggressive testing and evaluation, know your body and symptoms, avoid tobacco and booze, try to manage the stress in your life. Don't be shy about counseling support.


    Alcohol ablation January, 2004. Stent placed, September, 2003. Now...at age 53...working out, building a cabin, sober and clean. A 2nd chance at life. There is hope, there is a future. Have faith.

  • #2
    Re: Ablation, risk factors, PTSD. Seven months post ablatio

    Hey Marty,
    I salute you. I’ve been through enough of your problems myself to understand exactly where you’re coming from.

    At the present time I have somewhere between fourteen and sixteen diagnoses including HCM, Familial Hyperlipidemia, Diabetes, Degenerative Arthritis, Damaged Kidneys, Peripheral Artery Disease, etc, etc.

    I was told by my doctor that people with Familial Hyperlipidemia normally die in their fifties, but I’m seventy-two and still going strong. In 2003 I picked up six stents, two in my heart (fourth heart cath) two in my renal arteries and two in my iliac arteries, I also had pneumonia a stroke and my kidneys almost failed that year, not counting two bouts of HOCM that put me in the hospital. This year I’m about to have an echocardiogram of the arteries in my legs to see if the blockages there need intervention at this time. For my diabetes, I am currently taking pills and 170 units of two different types of insulin. For the Hyperlipidemia my doctor said we have to get it under better control, and then looked at the three drugs I am now on for it and said, “There is nothing else.”

    The way I see it, we have two choices in life. To go on living, or not to go on living. Man, I’m having way too much fun to give up on it now, and I strongly suspect that you are of the same mindset. Hang in there my friend – there are still lots of great years ahead for both of us.