Friday, June 20, 2014

I Keep A Close Watch On This Heart Of Mine

Last weekend, I finished up a long run and afterwards had some weird tightness in my chest. It eventually went away for the most part, but it bothered me enough to where I wanted to get it checked out a few days later just in case.

I didn't think it was that big of a deal at the time I went in, but let me tell ya.... mention "chest tightness" to anyone in the medical field, and it is treated as an emergency and you are put on the top of the list for evaluation. I can't lie. It totally freaked me out about how severe of a situation they made it out to be.

Needless to say they immediately got me in and I had an EKG and a few other tests done.

CliffsNotes version: 
I have what they are calling moderate left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). Basically my left ventricle wall is bigger than its supposed to be. It has problems pushing oxygenated blood through and doesn't hold as much blood as it should, since the wall is thicker than normal.
 Exhibit A: 
 It's an underlying factor that sometimes people can go their whole lives not knowing they have. 
Because I am what he called an "endurance athlete" (thanks for stroking my ego, there, doc!) my ventricular walls are probably a little thicker than a typical person's ventricle to begin with. The heart adapts physiologically to what you put it through -- in cases of more "extreme" sports, it will get a little thicker naturally. In my case, I've probably always had a slight case of LVH, but now that I run marathons it has put my wall thickness into a "yellow zone" so to speak.
I am at a higher risk for developing further disease later in life, but that would be dependent on a number of factors including lifestyle and diet. In my case it just needs to be monitored (via annual physical) to make sure the ventricle wall doesn't get any thicker and get into the "danger zone". 

No, Kenny. I am no Maverick.

There's nothing I can really do-- the doctor said he would typically tell people to lose weight, stop smoking, eat healthier, or start exercising -- because I am already healthy, it's just something I have to live with and be cognizant of.
Other than my ventricle wall being a little thick, my heart itself is strong, and heart rate is good. I am allowed to continue endurance exercises as I normally would, as long as I'm asymptomatic. The stronger my heart, the easier it will be to pump oxygenated blood through. 
Lay off the 'roids, left ventricle. You're freaking me out.

This is the first symptom I've ever had since I started distance running 4 years ago which is a great sign. He said that I may only have symptoms once in a blue moon from here on out. 
If I can make sure to remember to breathe properly, I will have less trouble too. The more oxygen the better! Yay Oxygen! 

Anyone wanna hit the bar with me this weekend?

My life mantra has always been "just breathe". It just so happens that now my mantra has a little more meaning. 

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