Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Numbers of Death

Since the medical people don't tell you everything, I've been doing some reading on my own. Basic stuff that all heart patients and their family should know.

90% of people who survived after a few days of their first heart attack can make a full recovery. 10% will die in the first year, usually in the first 3-4 months.

I'm still alive after more than a month so my chances look good. BUT - they found some blood clots in the section of my heart that is dead. This could cause strokes or embolism, which means automatic death. Or worse.

1/3 of my heart is dead. The human heart pumps at 60-70% capacity or ejection rate. Mine is 41%. There have been people who have lost half their heart and survived for over 40 years, there are people who have lost just 15% capacity and died.

There is no way the heart can regenerate, so the thing that pisses me off is when people ask me whether I have recovered. It's not the flu or a toothache. My heart will never recover the part that is now dead. It's gone. Goodbye. Adios. The only thing that can be done is to make the other parts of the heart stronger so they can compensate.

Here's a risk - a majority of heart patients may find their heart to increase in size. A bigger heart is stronger at pumping, but may suffer from arrhythmia.

When you have had a heart attack, you will take certain meds forever. Forever. Forever ever? Forever-EVER!

This is usually anti-platelets like aspirin and/or clopidogrel (brand Plavix) and in severe cases, the dreaded Warfarin. There are ACE inhibitors and beta blockers, statins, etc.

You need to be able to trust your doctor. My doctors are okay, but they don't give all information. No one in the public healthcare system will tell you all the information because either they don't know/don't have it or they simply don't think you need to know. I need to know. I deal with massive amounts of information. So be prepared to conduct your own research.

Cardiac rehab may help, if you're in a First World country. It has been shown to reduce risk of another heart attack or dying from boredom. I have yet to try out Malaysia's public healthcare cardiac rehab programmes but initial meetings with the team seems okay.

Heart disease costs money. Not so much as cancer, but be prepared to spend for procedures, meds, etc.