Hearts are Too Much Work

Well, I finally attended the follow-up for my initial heart evaluation at University of Chicago. According to Dr. McNally and the Echocardiogram reviewing physician Dr. DeCara, my left ventricle is slightly weakened, and both my tricuspid and mitral valves show minor regurgitation. To remedy the left ventricle, I’ve been placed on Enalapril which relaxes arterial walls and eases blood-flow to reduce cardiac workload. I already have low blood pressure, so I’m a little trepidatious; I already get lightheaded when I stand up too fast, hopefully I won’t have any fainting spells. If I tolerate this well, she also wants to put me on a Beta-blocker to slow my heart rate and further reduce its workload. Considering my resting heart rate is a low 50, I can’t imagine it going much lower safely. Hopefully it only kicks in at the upper levels.

In addition, I should probably stop playing DDR at the 9 and 10-foot level, because my heart monitor exceeds 200 on occasion while I play, and Dr. McNally suggested I try to keep it under 180. I knew I’d reached an ability ceiling with DDR, now I know why. My heart probably isn’t capable of supplying the necessary level of blood for that level of activity, so it just pumps faster to compensate. While that kind of range is good, it’s like pushing an engine into the red: once in a while is fine, too often and the engine can blow.

On the plus side, the genetic tests came back negative, and my cholesterol and other blood levels are good. Considering I ate a cookie-dough shake right before the test, that’s pretty damn good. Whatever my heart problems, my eating habits don’t seem to be affecting anything adversely. Dr. McNally scheduled a couple more genetic tests, and I enrolled in a hereditary heart disease study she’s directing. If anything, maybe my case will help them discover a new genetic cause of weird heart abnormalities. This is a definite bonus for going to a University hospital for ACHD.

She also wants me to undergo an MRI, because the echocardiogram was inconclusive in many areas, due to my dextrocardia and other issues obscuring multiple structures. She says the technicians are still learning, and isn’t sure they could handle a case of my complexity, so she’s going to wait a few months before scheduling that particular test. I’ve never had an MRI, so that will be kinda fun. Aside from that, I have another appointment in March. If that goes well, I’ll be put on a yearly schedule, which I fully intend to maintain, no matter where I move in the future.

So, no impending surgery for now, and no pacemakers. I’m not sure what she has planned if the Enalapril and Beta-blocker don’t reverse the weakening of my left ventricle, but we’ll see in six months.

Until Tomorrow