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Police, Emergency Service or Defence Force People with HOCM


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Matty Find out more about Matty
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  • Police, Emergency Service or Defence Force People with HOCM

    Hi all,

    First of all, I would like to thank you all for creating a community for people to help understand this disease.

    I am a Police Officer in Australia and have been for around 6 years. In October 2012 I had an episode where I got a little light headed after drinking a cold glass of soft drink and something to eat. As a result I lost my balance and fell over for a brief second. I was fine afterwards and went about things as normal. I decided to go and have a check up with my local GP and everything was fine, however, he did say to go and get a further check at the hospital just to make sure as I don't have history of fainting. I went into the hospital and they did an ECG and took blood tests etc. Everything came back fine, however, the ECG displayed as abnormal. So they kept me in for a week and did further testing to work out what was going on. I had more blood tests, EKG and an Angiogram, all good. They then sent me to another hospital where they did the same tests (except the Angio, thank god) and likewise the tests were ok. I had an Cardiac MRI which showed mild asymmetrical thickening to the left vertical of 1.7mm. I completed a stress test and all ok. As a result of testing, they finally released me saying the syncope was not related to my heart, however, we suspect you have a mild case of HOCM. They then arranged for further consultation with the specialist and as of writing this report, I am still going through consultations and testing. I have an EP study coming up at the end of the month to see if HOCM is causing the abnormal beat or if the abnormal beat is from the electrics side of things.

    I have been going through "**** and back" with my specialist and my employer (Police) trying to get clearance to go back to work as the doctor won't sign me off totally saying "I can't tick that off, as something COULD happen if you were to over exert yourself". He ended up telling my work I would be at 0 to 5% risk of anything happening whilst working. (I would think a lot of people would have this risk factor eg People with High blood pressure, diabetics, Asthmatics and overweight people. Even crossing a busy road).

    My problem is, I don't have any symptoms. My LVEF is 72%. I ride my bike approx: 70 to 90 kilometres a week with no problem. I wear a Heart Rate Monitor whilst riding and doing any type of exercise because of all this, and it is good to know what my heart is doing so I can monitor it. My maximum heart rate has only gone to 168bpm.

    My specialist seems to generalise with things and doesn't seem to assess MY situation and as a result I am still on light duties and this could possibly end my career as a police officer. I have no one in the family with HOCM, nor have I had anyone pass away suddenly. I am on a waiting list for Genetics Testing to see if I have any of the gene mutations for HOCM.

    I would really like to hear from people in the same boat as me. Police officers, Ambulance Officers, Emergency Service Officers and Defence Force personel. Even people who have knowledge of a similar situation
    To myself.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated that could assist my case and get me back to normal.

    Thanks in advance....

  • #2
    Re: Police, Emergency Service or Defence Force People with HOCM

    Hi Matty,

    I am also police officer currently being tested for Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy & Coronary Artery Disease.

    I am currently on light duties (desk).

    Do you have any update?



    • #3
      Re: Police, Emergency Service or Defence Force People with HOCM

      The first and foremost rule here is that nothing that appears on a message board is a substitute for the advice that comes from your own doctor. Having said that I had a myectomy last November, and with clearance from my cardiologist, I am running 4-5 miles a day, swimming, cleared to SCUBA dive, and have resumed shooting...and am an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor. While none of these tasks individually is the same as active duty police work....it is possible that an individual might be able to perform each of the specific tasks with clearance from their doctor. Given that, however, I would be surprised if a doctor would give clearance for a public safety officer to return to a full duty load......and candidly IMO the greatest reason may be their fear of litigation if something went sideways. Just my own sense on the issue.


      • #4
        Re: Police, Emergency Service or Defence Force People with HOCM

        Matty - I'm sorry that HCM has been diagnosed. Your story (issue, testing, discovery, shock) is all too common here. We've had many "first responders," pilots etc., who's career/passion/training has been altered by HCM.
        First and foremost - When the discovery of HCM happens, its affects everyone the same way. But I want to impart something important. HCM is a manageable disease. Not curable, but manageable. More people live completely unaffected by HCM than not, those that find out they have it are the minority.
        HCM affects everyone differently. Its incredibly fickle and for this reason we suggest seeing an EXPERT in HCM. You'll find soon enough that very few cardiologists know @#$& about HCM. So learn what you can from experts. Suggest ordering the HCM book on Amazon written by Maron & Salberg - two of the most foremost experts in HCM in the US - One is a doctor, the other an HCM'r.
        Now - I'm going to say something that your not going to like. Now that "the cat is out of the bag" with your employer, you'll likely not be able to resume any duties where you will be subject to having to run, chase, wrestle bad guys. I know, its heartbreaking (no pun intended), but this is for everyone best interest. Yes, the chances of passing out again are slim. But there is "a chance", the same goes for SCD, Sudden Cardiac Death, again, very slim - but "a chance". We cannot put citizens at an increased risk that the person who can save them, may in fact, need saving themselves. We can't have firefighters suddenly pass-out while carrying someone out of a burning building, We can't have a Pilot put many at risk as they fly, and we can't have Policemen suddenly collapse while chasing bad guys.
        But HCM also affects others - Mothers who can't chase fast little toddlers, Mechanics who can't be around large engines or magnets due to their ICD. Bus Drivers, Window Washers, skyscraper Iron Workers, NBA forwards - the list is endless. HCM affects everyone differently. Its how you look at it that makes a difference.
        Hopefully, with testing you'll find they were wrong and its something else. Something thats treatable and you can resume what you love. But if not, Consider training, or internal work (bailiff, jailer etc.), perhaps crisis negotiator. . . What you need to do is find Plan B that can allow you to work with those in Plan A, where you can support, train, inspire and most importantly, make you happy. Good luck, Keep us informed as things progress and keep learning about HCM.
        Diagnosed @ 48
        Saw Dr. Michael Debakey @ age 5 - "He's fine, just a little noisy"
        Father to 3 boys 22, 25, 29 (all currently clear - pending genetics)
        AICD - Valentines Day '08, Spark Plug replaced 11/14
        After much research, I had a Myectomy @ Mayo for my 50th Birthday '08
        Quietly going insane . . .


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