Friday, June 26, 2009

A Cardiac Reality Check

By Millicent K. Brody

Just two weeks ago, I underwent a cardiac catherization at Morristown Memorial Hospital. The entire event was chilling. I hadn’t shown any symptoms of a heart problem; no high or low blood pressure, no shortness of breath, no weight loss or gain....NOTHING! But there I was, nonetheless.

Exactly one year ago, I decided it might be time to secure a family physician. After scheduling an appointment with a local doctor, part of the routine physical included inquiring about my family history. I was asked if any member of my immediate family had adny serious medical conditions.

“My father dropped dead of a heart attack at age 54,” I answered.

The doctor suggested I make an appointment for a 64-Slice Cat Scan.

One year later, almost to the day, I paid a visit to my husband’s cardiologist where I mentioned this test.

The cardiologist replied, “Oh you won’t need that sophisticated a test. We’ll do a Nuclear Stress test, and see the results.”

I did, and gave it no further thought until about two weeks later. The cardiologist called and suggested I return to the office to discuss my results. He indicated the test showed that there could be a possible blockage in the main artery leading to my heart. That’s when I contacted Dr. David Fein, proprietor of the Princeton Longevity Center, to request a 64 Slice Cat Scan.

That same day, I watched photographs of my scan being projected on a computer screen. The results indicated there could indeed be a blockage at the base of my aorta, which is known as the Widow's Artery. I was referred to one of New Jersey's most respected cardiologists, Dr. Stephen Guss of the Morristown Cardiology Group. It was his opinion that I should undergo a cardiac cathaterization.
Dr. Craig Rosen, another cardiologist, did the procedure. He discovered that the artery leading from the base of my aorta was clogged, but only 30 to 40%: Not enough to stent.

Dr. Guss, Dr. Fein, and Dr. Rosen tell me that I’m very fortunate. Apparently, heart disease is the number one silent killer of women, and current risk assessment methods, like blood pressure and cholesterol tests miss as many as 75% of patients who develop heart problems. Symptoms of heart disease often do not appear before a major cardiac event.

Of course I am back to being Milli. I am fine, perfectly healthy. But when I got this news, I was completely drained, a nervous wreck, and the hardest part of the whole thing was having to sign a paper allowing the physicians to perform open heart surgery if necessary. The whole ordeal was beyond bizarre for me.

I believe my story must be told. Millions of women walk around with symptoms. I had NONE. Give your family the gift of your good health. If there is any doubt in your mind about your health: Call your doctor!

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