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Old 05-24-2001, 06:51 AM   #1
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My question about Congestive heart failure and angina PLEASE READ

A little over a year ago my dad was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and then had a massive heart attack. Angioplasty was done and a stent was placed in his artery that the cardiologist affectionately call the "widowmaker". The night of the operation he had another heart attack and then 2 mini strokes.

Ever since then, my dad has not been the same. He has chest pains, shortness of breath, tightness in his chest, swelling in his feet, ankles, legs and then the abdomen. My dad can barely do any activity on most days...just walking from the house to his mailbox which is about 100 feet away makes him tired, short of breath and have chest pains.

He has been back to the ER countless times and all they can tell him is that they can't find anything wrong other than what damage he already has to his heart from the heart attack. At this point my dad and mom are very frustrated and I'm to a point where I want to strangle a cardiologist.

Yes, I know my dad has congestive heart failure and suffers from angina, and from all the information I've seen, the prognosis isn't very good. My dad is 53 and he was very physically active before his heart attack, but it seems now he has no energy or lust for life like he had. I know he's suffering from depression and currently he's being treated for it. They have him on a barage of medication for the swelling and the heart condition.

I know that the symtoms he shows are all inducive to his heart condition, but my question is...can it still be a heart attack? Will my dad most likely feel this way until he dies??

Forget about seeing a specialist...my dad is a military retiree and the insurance that he does have doesn't pay for much outside of the military hospitals. I don't feel the hospital and the physicians are being very aggressive with my dad's care. In fact, my mom told the cardiologist that my dad could barely do any activity and the cardiologist said "Sure he can...he was on the tread mill during the stress test and he was jogging, he can do anything he wants!" My dad was in the ICU overnight and told her "let's just go" because he was fed up. I guess since my dad isn't a high ranking officer they don't give a crap.

Can anyone offer any advice? I'm grabbing at straws at this point.

 
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Old 05-24-2001, 10:40 PM   #2
Ken Ken is offline
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Re: My question about Congestive heart failure and angina PLEASE READ

While I don't have CHF myself, and I am not a doctor, I work with heart patients of all types and associate with heart surgeons, cardiologists and other medical professionals in the area of heart disease.

The only thing you did not give was his ejection fraction. This is the amount of blood pumped out of the left ventricule when the heart beats. This is an important reading in the case of CHF.

Your dad has many heart problems.

First, the "widowmaker" is a common term used by cardiologists. It is not said in jest but more to reflect the seriousness of the situation. The "widowmaker" is the Left Anterior Descending (LAD) artery which serves roughly 60% of the heart. If it becomes blocked, there is a good chance you will die. Period.

A heart attack occurs when one or more coronary (heart) arteries become blocked usually due to one or more blood clots. It's usual cause is a condition named atherosclerois. The is a build-up of deposits (plaque). The plaque usually ruptures, and as a result, the body's defense mechanism, a blood clot(s), form around the rupture. If the blood supply is cut off to a portion of the heart muscle, it dies. The heart is the only organ where the cells do not renew themselves. Once a section of the heart muscle dies, it remains dead. However, depending on the extent of the damage, many people that have had heart attacks can carry on in life and are allowed to exercise to a certain extent.

Angina is also due to atherosclerosis but the blockage is usually only partial, and the pain only comes on when a person exerts themselves. There is an exception called unstable angina where the pain persists when exerting themselves or also when resting.

Congestive heart failure involves the reduced pumping action of the heart. The symptoms your dad is suffering can be typical symptoms of CHF. The many medications he is on are given to help improve his condition. There is only so much doctors can do. I assume he is limiting salt in his diet since salt only adds to the problem of water retention.

The fact that your dad could tolerate a stress test, at least to a certain extent, is a good thing.

Despite how he feels, if he and your family have nothing but fear of the future rather than faith in the future, he can only get worse.

There are usually underlying causes for CHF including heart attack(s). Also the mini-strokes are related to his heart disease. I trust whatever risk factors he has for heart disease and/or strokes are being kept under control if they are controllable risk factors.

There is much research and trials going on in the area of heart disease, including a implantable device that helps coordinate the pumping action of both sides of the heart, right and left. This device is still in the experimental stage and only available on a limited basis. You may have heard of stem cell research that is going on. Results of this research have great potential, but results, if they develop, are many years away.

When the ejection fraction falls to about 15% or less, the only alternative, at the present time, may be a heart transplant. I know about five people who have had heart transplants, and all are doing well as long as they take their anti-rejection medication every day.

There is another procedure where a laser creates tiny holes, up to about 30, in the heart muscle. The exterior holes heal over, but the holes within the heart stay open and allow for adequate circulation. This procedure may or may not be of any help to your dad. It is only done at a limited number of hospitals that specialize in heart disease.

I wish I could be more positive than I have been, but you need to know what is going on with your dad. Possibly, someone with CHF, who has also had a heart attack, can give you their experience and how they cope with their condition.

You are always entitled to a second medical opinion, but feeling bitter against his doctors may be unfair, and they may be trying to do all they can for him. But again, despite how he feels, if he has a bad attitude, it can only work against him.

Ken

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Old 07-21-2001, 01:13 AM   #3
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Re: My question about Congestive heart failure and angina PLEASE READ

There was a program on 20/20 or Dateline a few years ago about COQ10 and congestive heart failure or heart problems. It helped people tremendously with those conditions. It didn't cure it but made life bearable.
One woman who was treated with COQ10 was able to walk around in her backyard for the first time in years without getting short of breath. She had been more or less housebound due to lack of energy, shortness of breath because of congestive heart failure.
Her doctor determined the amount she needed to take.
It can be bought at health food stores. The doctor should be told about taking it though. He should be able to look up medical studies on Coenzyme Q 10 in relation to helping heart problems.

I am very sorry your dad has this health problem. It is emotionally difficult to watch someone you love struggle/suffer with a health problem. You feel so helpless.

 
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