Vegan Heart attacks

Vegans have heart attacks too apparently…

Sorry for going missing like I have but I do have a good excuse. The other CV, the one now called Miss Skinny Pants, hereafter MSP, was recently laid low with heart failure. You can imagine my dismay and surprise after we have worked so hard to improve our eating and exercise only to have this happen. She had been feeling poorly for a few days, something we chalked up to weaning herself off of some long-term medications. The withdrawal symptoms were similar and who expects a 44-yr old vegan to have a heart attack? So we didn’t address it immediately. We should have. Goodness knows we hear often enough that women in particular tend to have silent heart attacks or display symptoms that do not match the classic “pain in the chest radiating down the left arm”. And so we missed the initial cardiac event. By the time it was obvious that something serious was happening she was at work. Up in the ceiling of an empty public school where she couldn’t easily be reached during the heat of the day. Because timing is everything apparently. And since we have only one car and she had it, I couldn’t go get her. STILL not realizing the seriousness of the situation she drove herself home once she felt “somewhat” recovered while I made her a doctor’s appointment. And here’s the kicker, and the only reason I don’t feel like the biggest heel in the world, the doctor missed it too. He agreed with us about the theory that it was withdrawal from her meds. But thankfully he did tell us that if we wanted to be EXTRA sure we should go to the ER. And against her objections, in a moment of clarity, I did. And then the ER doc missed it too. She looked great and her EKG showed some abnormalities but nothing they seemed overly concerned with. They gave her a GI cocktail (lidocaine and maalox), took some blood and took her down for a chest x-ray and I headed off to the cafeteria to get us a sandwich figuring it would be awhile before she came back. It was a very different picture when I returned. The doctor stopped me at the door, told me that her blood results showed elevated cardiac enzymes indicating an “event” and damage to the heart muscle and it looked like a convention in her room with nurses, technicians and doctors running about and poking her with sharp things. I was devastated. She is my best friend and the love of my life and to see her like that was nearly more than I could take.

So what happened and how is she? To shorten this up I will say now that she is much better and on her way to a full recovery. As it turns out her heart attack was NOT the result of heart disease. They took her to the angio lab fully expecting blocked or narrowing of the arteries but instead discovered that her arteries are clean enough to eat dinner off of. Instead she had suffered what is known as “Broken Heart Syndrome” or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, essentially, stress-induced heart failure that resembles a heart attack on initial presentation. Her cardiologist has assured us that despite the initial grim diagnosis her recovery is imminent and she will likely heal completely in a couple of months. As of now she is home and her only restriction regarding diet is caffeine, which oddly enough I have a restriction on as well due to supraventricular tachycardia, and her only physical limitations is “don’t do what doesn’t feel good”. She now takes aspirin and some other meds I cannot spell to control the symptoms of heart failure but even that should taper off as she continues to recover!

The good news in all this is that a woman who has a family history of coronary artery disease and whose mom has had a quadruple bypass appears, despite this oddly unrelated problem, to have dodged the heart disease bullet largely in part due to her vegan diet and improved physical activity. I call that pretty damned awesome!