Thursday, May 14, 2009

Family History

Those of you who follow me on twitter know that my mother (74 yo) had a heart attack on Monday. She was seen quickly in a small rural hospital who gave her a “clot-busting” drug which open her right coronary artery back up and prevented/minimized any heart muscle loss. She was then air-evaced to the Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock where she had an angiogram under the care of cardiologist Dr. Carl Leding.
For someone who has been “asymptomatic” it is amazing how much blockage she has! 80-90% in the RT coronary near it’s origin and another 50% in one of it’s branches, 70% in the left main coronary before it gives off the anterior descending branch, and 70% in the circumflex artery.
She has a history of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. She quit smoking in 2002. Her mother died of a stroke. Her father of heart disease. Her only sister died of a rupture cerebral aneurysm. Fortunately, she loves to dance and that has kept her active.
Tuesday, Dr Charles Watkins (CT surgeon) did her CABG -- a 4 vessel. All went well with the surgery, but she failed to "wake up" postop. So just after noon Wednesday a CTscan of her head was done. She had multiple small and large areas of non-hemorrhagic stroke, some old and other new. This morning she is to have an EEG and then the neurologist will see her. I hope he tells me that Dr Watkins and I are wrong and that all will be well. That is not likely.
I want to thank all involved in her care. I think they have done a marvelous job. I also want to thank everyone who has kept my family in their thoughts and prayers. They are much appreciated.
We can’t (yet) change our genetics, but our family history can give us warnings to change or improve our habits. You can tell by my mother’s history above that my own family history is heavy with heart disease and hypertension (several siblings have HBP). I own up to this history. I try to walk daily, but should pick up my pace and make it more aerobic. I try to keep my weight down to avoid type 2 diabetes. I try to limit my caffeine to 2 cups per day. I need to make my diet more consistent with the DASH diet (pdf). I have cut back on my salt intake, but could do better. I eat fruit and vegetables, but could do better. I don’t eat red or processed meat on a daily basis, but could add more fish to my diet. I am fairly good at the whole grains. I don’t smoke. I have a major sweet tooth which I have to fight. I most likely need to check my blood pressure weekly rather than monthly. It has always been normal, but the day of my mother’s surgery it was not.

Despite all the “right” things we may do to avoid disease such as heart disease, sometimes it finds us anyway. Check out Denver Doc’s recent post (Heart Attacks and Low Cholesterol) about a patient with almost perfect “numbers” who had a heart attack.
Two lessons here: prompt access to modern medicine is grand, and none of us can rest assured in our low cholesterol numbers.


StitchinByTheLake said...

Thanks for the link to the Dash Diet. I've printed several pages including some of the recipes. While my blood pressure is normally low it does occasionally creep up above that 120/80 mark so I'm working to keep it down. I have lifted your mother up in prayer this morning asking for rapid and complete healing for her and for peace for you. blessings, marlene

Chrysalis said...

Ramona, I'm so sorry to hear of this. You know I'm good for prayers for all of you. Chrys.

ER's Mom said...

Oh, no. I'll be thinking of you and hoping all works out in the end.

ER's Mom

Anonymous said...

Praying for your family. This must be so hard. Hugs.

Unknown said...


Just A Vet Student said...

Oh no, I'm sorry to hear your mother is having trouble. Here's hoping for an unexpectedly complete recovery.

No blog hijack today, just thinking about you and your mum.

SeaSpray said...

I am so sorry Ramona.

I know this is hard and no wonder your bp was up.

I am keeping your mom and you and family in prayer. She's blessed to have you there for her.

I need to pay better attention to this stuff too.

Jabulani said...

Sometimes being a doctor is not a good thing, because you just know too much and it can make a bad situation worse. Sometimes it makes no difference: we have a GP acquaintance who is vastly overweight and drinks and smokes fairly, um, liberally.
My grandmother-in-law lived to be 102 and her maxim was "A little of everything in moderation". She was as fit as a horse until a cold turned nasty.
There is illegitamacy on both sides of my family. I often wonder what health issues may lurk there in the genes since we have no way of knowing. It's a little worrying that I can make no provision for that situation.
My thoughts and prayers are with your family, and you especially as always. Sx

jmb said...

I just noticed this Ramona. I hope your mother is doing well now.
That was quite the shock for you all despite the family history.
I hope she will be back dancing soon.

alex said...

strength to you and yours in this difficult are in my thoughts. wishing you the best.

Disability Insurance said...

Family history can be difficult and very limiting sometimes. It is good that you are aware of your history and are able to make and necessary changes you can. My sympathies for you and your courageous article, thanks.