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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Heart Attack – One runner’s story

“Hi Gary,
I had a 'health challenge' over 11 years ago' at 43. I was lucky to survive the initial episode. Had my wife not decided to have an extra few minutes sleep-in one Saturday morning, she would have been in the shower and I most probably would not have survived it. Some CPR, (not perfect - but just enough before the ambulance guys arrived) helped and a helicopter lift off the flat roof of our house and I was in hospital within the golden 1hr.
I never had any warning symptoms. I had run everyday for 5 & 1/2 years. Was 5th in my club's xc champs masters grade the weekend before when club was strong with masters. The anaesthetist said I had the best set of lungs he had seen. Probably the fitness was also a factor in me surviving.
Of course there have been other runners who did not have my luck in similar circumstances, a number come to mind.”
Comment by Gary:
Heart attack can strike the unwary without warning - sometimes while still quite young. The very fit are far from immune and the fitness itself may lull the person into a false sense of security.

Often, there is prior warning that may go on for as long as several days; however, this can be so subtle to be ignored, or easily mistaken for something else, like a touch of the flu or a pulled chest muscle, a strained shoulder, or just a feeling of being a “little under the weather”.

One of your best tools for assessing the health of your heart and circulation is using a digital blood pressure and heart rate monitor. A set of unusual readings of blood pressure and/or heart rate, as compared to your regular norms may be your first and best warning that not all is well - that it is time to seek medical assistance. This could be as simple as a quick phone call made to your doctor.

See your doctor while you are healthy: Have regular health checks, including blood profiles. The fit person who thinks they have a heart like a sturdy Diesel engine and a “good diet” is liable to neglect these with the result that an underlying disorder like excessive cholesterol levels or heart defect may go undetected for many years. Men are the worst when it comes to these matters, including ignoring the obvious hints of a poor family history.

Arrange for you, your family and friends to undertake training in basic CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation). The one thing for sure is this life-saving skill will be called upon when least expected.

As is nicely illustrated in this letter modern emergency medicine is a wonderful life saver.

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