Last week, I was playing Golf with my friends Ray and Silla. My heart rate was unusually high and I felt my heart was pounding harder than it usually does when I am just walking and playing golf. I kept my mind focused on it and continued to breath and finished my 9 holes. I went home checked my blood pressure and it was unusually high for me and I felt heaviness in my chest. I did not have any pain it was just uneasiness and heaviness in my chest. I called my friend Vicente who is a doctor in the ER in the National Hospital of Iceland and told him what was going on and he asked me to immediately go to the ER and get an ECG. I did just that and from then on it was rather crazy and wild ride, the resident doctor in the ER told me that they think that I need to have an immediate Angiography as they told me that I was having a heart attack. The ambulance came in a matter of minutes I was having a surgical procedure or Angioplasty to place stents in my arteries. The doctor, Berglind who performed the surgery was excellent. The whole thing took about 30 minutes.
Yesterday was my father’s birthday and he would have been 83 if he had survived the heart attack almost 10 years back. I have a family history of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, I have been seeing a cardiologist for 10 years since my dad passing away. I have been extremely disciplined about my lifestyle and I am told that it helped a lot during the above incident. Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on your artery walls (plaque), which can restrict blood flow. The plaque can burst, triggering a blood clot. Although atherosclerosis is often considered a heart problem, it can affect arteries anywhere in your body. Angiography is a fascinating process, they insert a needle through your wrist and you can actually see the wire moving through your veins and they can see which of the 4 arteries are blocked. Once they determine the worst affected artery they push an engineering marvel of a device all the way to your heart. They install a stent that is a small, metal mesh tube that acts as a scaffolding to provide support inside the coronary artery and this holds the artery open to allow blood to flow freely. I was watching the whole process on a monitor and I could see the wire move and the minute the surgeon placed the stent, I could see the blood flow in my heart. During my Angiography, 2 of my coronary arteries were blocked.
The whole episode happened last Sunday, the doctors wanted to keep me in the hospital to monitor my blood pressure and my reaction to a cocktail of medication that I need to take. I had no pain on Sunday except for a small incident that night when my blood pressure became dangerously low and I became extremely uneasy and anxious, but they were able to get everything back to normal in about 3 to 5 minutes. The nurse told me it was due to the blood thinners and beta blockers that I took. After that incident, I felt fine and slept well most of the nights in the hospital. During the day I kept walking about 10 to 15 minutes at a time and also meditated the rest of the time. It was incredible to be able to meditate and have a clear mind while all the chaos was going on through my body and around you. I kept reminding myself, I am not my body and all things that are born have to die there is no other path.
Coronary Heart Disease is THE leading cause of death in the world. In my case, diabetes probably played a role in addition to my genetic predisposition. The only thing that I could do was wait for the above incident to happen, there is almost no way to prevent it and even more weird is the fact that we have not yet discovered why we get this disease. I am sure there is some genetic mutation. I am surprised to find out that there is absolutely no-one working on actually preventing this disease. It is a chronic disease and it takes a long time to manifest. I am almost certain that with the current advances in technology we should be able to find a way to prevent this disease but most of our treatment is management of the disease through blood thinners and beta blockers and statins. I am not against any of these treatment and I probably will be taking these pills for the rest of my life and I should probably buy stock in all those pharmaceutical companies that make these drugs. I am more interested in startups that are looking to personalize treatment and also prevent the condition for happening in the first place. I am thinking about someone like who has a family history and early indications showed clearly that I had plague buildup in my arteries but there was no treatment other than taking statins which sure would have prolonged my disease to a point where I would have had the heart attack in another 5 years or 10 years, the jury is out on whether that is true or not. It was the wait for the inevitable to happen. I have been quite self aware and learnt to listen to my body which I think is what enabled me to go in and take care of this condition before it became serious. I am quite happy that it happened now when I know I can work on rehabilitating and to get stronger and fitter.
As part of the test that was done during my stay at the hospital was an Echocardiography and this was the first time this was done and the result was there is some scar tissue in my heart due to the blockages in my arteries. The scar tissue prevents the heart from doing its best but the doctor said that means the other cells and tissue in my heart get more workout and get stronger. I am planning to work with the rehabilitation therapist to see how best I can get back to my best fitness levels. The goals are quite simple, get back to playing cricket, golf and being able to run long distance. I also want to be able to do weight training and put more muscle if I can do it. Again not a massive task but I probably have to ease into these challenges in the coming decade. I feel this surgery and installation of a metal scaffolding in my heart is the first installation on my path to being HomoDeus. I have never been more excited to get back to working on building my body again.