Heart Blockage: A Personal Experience

I had made it to age 70 without any chronic diseases and no need to take any prescription drugs.  Last Tuesday afternoon that ended.  The mild chest pressure and shortness of breath began Tuesday afternoon while I was driving to my son’s counseling session in Chino, CA.  I began popping vitamin C tablets every few minutes, which is all that I had available in the car. 

I drove to Pomona Valley Hospital emergency room within an hour where I was quickly ushered into a hallway to undergo an immediate electrocardiogram.  It appeared normal on the print out but the technician said he saw an abnormal beat on his screen (a premature ventricular contraction).  I took my pulse.  My heart was skipping a beat every six beats.   I was having real heart trouble.

It took another 40 minutes for emergency room personnel to take me into a treatment room and give me a nitroglycerin tablet to dilate my blood vessels, a blood thinner and an aspirin tablet to halt any clots.  Within 20 minutes my condition was stable; no shortness of breath.

My cardiac enzyme level (troponin level) was 0.6 upon admission (0.3 is normal), 1.5 later in the emergency room and eventually rose to 50.0 the next day.  High troponin levels indicate a heart attack (blockage of circulation in a coronary artery).

I was admitted to the hospital late that afternoon and began dealing with the challenges of hospitalization. 

First, the nurse offered me vaccines for the flu and pneumonia.  I declined, saying I didn’t come to the hospital with a health crisis intending to get injected with two pathological germs, a mycobacterium and a virus.  I said this is the way people entering the hospital begin to go downhill and face complications.

The male nurse acquired personal information for the hospital chart.  He didn’t believe I was 70 years old and had me take my driver’s license out of my wallet to confirm my birthdate. 

The ordeal of staying overnight in a hospital was challenging. Uninterrupted sleep is almost impossible.  Light pollution (I had to cover up 9 lights in my room) and noise pollution (the incessant “beep” of the heart monitoring BRI Resveratrol - 1200... Buy New $16.99 (as of 05:25 UTC - Details) machine directly outside my room) were agonizing.  I got 4 hours of sleep that first night.  (How does anybody get well in an environment like that?)

At 5AM the nurses and technicians began working me up with blood tests and prepping me for an angiogram (dye test of my coronary arteries).  At 7 AM I was being wheeled in my bed to the cardiac cath room on the ground floor.  A humorous moment came when my hospital bed wouldn’t fit into the elevator.   Made you feel like they really planned things well (??).

In the cath lab a team of 5 nurses and technicians were busy moving x-ray machines and monitors into place and setting up instruments.  I informed them I didn’t want to hear the word “oops” during my procedure.

I was offered a pain reliever and a sedative that I once again declined, saying these drugs would induce shallow breathing that could result in pneumonia.  The nurse couldn’t believe I was refusing the medication.

About 40 minutes later the cardiologist had found a single coronary artery that was blocked (blood clots, not cholesterol) and placed a stent (a wire prop).  He kept asking if I felt any pain.  I said no.  The stent was introduced through an artery in my wrist instead of more customary route through the groin. 

Now Supplements, Chond... Buy New $18.51 (as of 09:54 UTC - Details) I didn’t feel any better after the procedure because my heart circulation had already been re-established with medications.  I had told the cardiologist I didn’t want a stent unless it was absolutely necessary.  I got a stent anyway whether I liked it or not.  Now I have a time bomb in my chest, as stents tend to attract blood platelets that result in clots.  So the very health threat I walked in with is still a present danger that only 8 or 9 months taking blood thinners will avert.  After a few months the tissue covers the stent and then there is nil risk of a clot. 

I would spend another night in the hospital just for monitoring.  My first meal in the hospital was described as a special cardiac lunch.  It was comprised of zero-fat/high sugar carbohydrate foods like soda pop (can you believe?), sugary custard, a sugary jello cup and some sliced beef with noodles. 

I had to call my culinary friends, Tom and Valerie Aruffo, who cater events for me, and they brought me real food to eat (salad greens, meat for protein, etc.) 

By then I had others bring me other dietary supplements: potassium/magnesium capsules; zinc; fish oil; vitamin D; vitamin C, resveratrol.  The nurse allowed me to keep them as long as I hid them from the charge nurse. 

The cardiologist and hospital staff had great difficulty assessing my case.  I had normally low blood pressure (129/69 upon hospital admission), low cholesterol, normal blood sugar (5.5 hemoglobin A1c), and was normal weight (12 pounds over my high school weight) with no history of tobacco use or over-use of alcohol.  Furthermore, to confound everything, I had full heart pumping pressure (ejection fraction) after the event, which means no tissue damage to the heart muscle.   I didn’t fit the mold. 

This latter phenomenon is explained by my daily intake of resveratrol (Longevinex®), that activates internal antioxidants in the heart tissue prior to a blockage of circulation, which in turn prevents or limits damage to heart muscle.  I explained my case on the telephone to Nate Lebowitz MD, a Ft. Lee, NJ preventive cardiologist, and he believes resveratrol spared me from heart damage. 

What goes unexplained is that the cardiologist who implanted the stents in my coronary artery was not the least bit curious as to why I had no loss of pumping pressure or why I had reached age 70 without any chronic disease.  When I explained I have been taking a resveratrol pill he said he didn’t know what that was.   In fact, the doctor ordered that I cease taking all dietary supplements and continue with the problematic drugs he prescribed. 

He had me take an ACE inhibitor (lisinopril), which drove my blood pressure down to 90/40 and I felt mentally fatigued.  I’m holding that drug aside for now.  When blood pressure is that low tissues above the heart (brain, eyes, ears) don’t receive adequate blood circulation.

I also refused to take a statin cholesterol-lowering drug, which the doctor didn’t put up much of a fight over.  Maybe in the back of his mind he knows statins are useless and problematic.

I’m embarking on an accelerated 90-day artery-cleansing regimen of arginine (5000 mg0, chondroitin (5000 mg), vitamin C/lysine-proline, resveratrol.  I’m relying on molecular medicine, not synthetic drugs, to see me through.

For all of my friends who called to offer get-well messages, made me chicken and lentil soup, and provided me support while in the hospital, I am ever grateful.  I’m back home spending time with my 11-year old son Matthew, who helped pa-pa wash the car.  Updates will be provided in due time.