The Man Who Lived

1.

The Medication that "Just Works"?

General Facts

Ramipril on far right is something I do NOT take. Hoping never to have to.

In 2008, over 616,000 people died of heart disease. 
In 2008, heart disease caused almost 25% of deaths—almost one in every four—in the United States.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2008 were in men.
Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. In 2008, 405,309 people died from coronary heart disease.
Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first coronary attack. Another 470,000 who have already had one or more coronary attacks have another attack.
In 2010, coronary heart disease alone was projected to cost the United States $108.9 billion. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity. 
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Via: https://www.cardiosmart.org/Heart-Basics/CVD-Stats

But the really scary thing is...

  • 1 in 3 adults in the US will die of Heart Disease, stroke, or CVD (Cardiovascular Disease). 
  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year, a number that is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030. 
  • Read Sources for the above here (PDF).

In 2010, at the ripe age of 30, I died from heart disease. Yes, died. I was first admitted for 100% occlusions in a couple of my primary arteries. Even after they were unblocked, I wasn’t out of the woods. Less than a week after seeming stabilization I went into severe V-Tac (Ventricular Tachiacardia) in which the heart raced over 200 beats a minute without letup. The details of what treatments were tried and failed, and what finally saved my life, will come later. The short story is that I lived. The longer story is how I got there, and what I’m doing about it day by day.

Welcome to my new blog: By Heart. Here I’m going to intersperse my personal, anecdotal story, with what I'm doing to overcome heart disease. Have I overcome heart disease? No, not yet. This is my life's aim in 2016. I’ve heard that it’s reversible. I’ve seen books about it, I’ve heard tell from others that it’s possible. And I’m a very curious guy. I have one additional issue—a leaking atrial valve that pushes excess blood back onto my heart, about a quart per hour according to my cardiologist. Every heart patient has their own unique case. My own case was so unique that it went into the medical journal of studies for doctors. I’ll get to why that is, because obviously I haven’t revealed many details of my case yet, but I think who we are, what we believe, and how we handle various aspects of our life, ends up determining how well we live. So am I a little skeptical that I can reverse heart disease? Yeah, but I think, I think, it’s in the realm of true possibility. 

And let’s face it, we all have our habits that can set us back if we’re not careful. I plan to use this blog like a medicine of sorts. And, if you’ll join me, maybe together we can keep each other honest and open about the process. If you don’t have any further interest, believe me I understand. This is a sore spot, not just for America, but for the world. 

How Each Day Begins

This is pretty basic, actually. I arise early because these days I work a day-job and most of my days begin between 7 and 8am at an organic market. Anyhow, after I’m awake and relatively at ‘em, I eat some breakfast. Here’s what I’ve been doing for a number of years now, and some of this you may disagree with—so share your feedback in the comments if you like. 

I drink some water, a whole glass first. Then about five or ten minutes later I drink a cup of coffee. (In the recent past I was drinking 2 and 3 cups a day, I know—slap my wrist, what a bad boy!) Lately I’ve kept it to one cup. I have, mind you, successfully gone off coffee altogether from the year 2012-2015, and was only drinking black tea. Last year I surprised myself by going out and purchasing a Keurig Mini. I know, what the hell, right?

Anyway after I’ve had my cup and gotten some writing done, I’ll eat breakfast. Now this does vary for me, but I recently got an eye opener about heart-patient low-sodium diets. A few days ago I saw my cardiologist. He asked me if I was on a low-sodium diet. I said sure. He said, “Then I’m going to have to prescribe you a new medication into your repertoire. It’s an ACE inhibitor called Ramipril (2.5MG). It helps lower the blood pressure, for which yours is quite too high right now. It’s either that or surgery.” Imagine my shock on hearing these words. I dumbly accepted the prescription over the surgery—not that I think or thought surgery was the better option at this stage in my life—and left for home, feeling very raw by the time I got home. What had happened?

A low sodium diet for heart patients with hypertension (me) is only allowed 1500Mg’s a day, total. It adds up pretty fast. Most people are consuming an extra 800mgs of it per day at a quality assured amount of 2000. That’s the daily value, the MAX. Most people, myself included, have gone to an establishment like Chipotle and blown it out of the stratosphere with one burrito. Don’t believe me? Go to http://chipotle.com/nutrition-calculator Create your own burrito, or taco and see what happens. I just now created a burrito. Sodium content? 2435! One f-ing burrito! I’ve been eating these lately because I’d been taking my step-son to Parkquor lessons down in Philly and the "boys" go out after. It’s not good for either him or I, but he’s a growing boy and can handle it—plus he doesn’t have hypertension like I do. 

Anyway, my day starts with a good low-sodium breakfast (for real) and my medications. Metoprolol Tartrate (for lowering blood pressure, half a pill in the morning), Fish Oil (I take a high dose at over 3000mgs) Vitamin D3 (I happen to be low in it.) 

Did I start taking the Ramipril? Not yet. I want to see if there’s any way I can decrease my blood pressure through diet and exercise (I’ve been a regular meditator for over 20 years). 

End of Day Meds

Here's what I take after the last meal of the day: 

  • Metoprolol (full pill-1)
  • Baby Aspirin (1)
  • Pravastatin (1 pill)

I should also note here that each night before I fall asleep, as I lay on my back, I practice Reiki on my heart. I feel this helps a lot. 

Additionally, I'll note here that even after all these years of taking Metoprolol (a tried and true method for reducing high blood pressure), my BP is still high. 

Before you go thinking the medication doesn't work, please understand there are a few complicating factors in this equation. For starters, the medication works very well for me under normal circumstances. My circumstances happen to be abnormally out of whack lately. I'm talking about stress, (poor dietary choices unchecked, even in moderation, make matters worse for heart patients like me), a lack of sustained cardio exercise (different than just getting your 10k steps in per day) and if I forgot to mention it, stress. ;) 

I have a lot more to share, but I think this is a good start.