An MI is a scary proposition. Even a near-miss can be isolating and uncomfortable. We can’t mitigate the long-term effects of a myocardial infarction, but we can work to fix the culture around it. That’s where MI stories come in: our collection of stories about the days prior to and following an MI can help sort out the fear, disquiet and confusion around a heart episode. Read on for insights into your own friends or family or share your story with our community.

Iron Man World Championships after a Heart Attack?

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Yes, that is the truth.  There are no limts to what you can do even after you’ve had an MI. Congratulations to Todd Mellinger on his IM World Championships qualification.

MI Aware Athletes Pressing Forward

Pictured  here with Culinary Connector Becky Creighton our very own MI Aware supporter.

 

Women Can Be Missing Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

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DENVER (CBS4) – Chest pain is considered the hallmark symptom of a heart attack, but patients can also experience other kinds of pain, and in some cases, none at all. That’s especially true for women, and they can be missing the symptoms.

Researchers say younger women have a greater risk of dying from a heart attack. A new study in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that may be because their warning signs are often very different.

Lalina Franklin was having neck and jaw pain. She had no idea she was on the verge of a severe heart attack .

“You think of some really bad pain in your chest and collapsing. I wasn’t having any pain at all in my chest,” Franklin said.

New research shows 42 percent of women under 55 do not feel chest pain during a heart attack. And hospitals often don’t diagnose those women properly until it’s too late.

“When women arrive to the hospital having a heart attack with symptoms different than chest pain, their care might not happen as immediate,” cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum said.

Researchers say that’s why more than 14 percent of women are dying from heart attacks in the hospital compared to 10 percent of men.

Doctors say there are signs a woman can look out for besides chest pain.

“They might have other symptoms like jaw pain, back pain, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue and simply sweating. All of these things could be a heart attack,” Steinbaum said.

Steinbaum says for any woman noticing those symptoms, getting help immediately could be critical.

“The quicker you can get to treatment the quicker we can save heart muscle and prevent you from dying,” she said.

Franklin had a stent put in to clear an artery.

“I am definitely lucky to be alive today,” Franklin said.

Now at 60 she says she feels much better.

The study stresses that chest pain and discomfort are still the primary symptoms of heart attacks, whether a man or a woman. But researchers say don’t ignore other kinds of pain as well.

Doctors also say every woman starting at age 20 should have her cholesterol and blood pressure checked on a regular basis to assess her heart attack risk.

It all started with MI story

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Please read MI:Aware? I aM Now! and gain an understanding of exactly who is susceptible to heart disease and pass it along to someone you care about.

Click here to read it now!

Right Place at the Right Time

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When Dean Mason began the Dead Dog Classic, a Wyoming bicycle stage race, he had no idea how close he would come to death, himself.  Fourteen miles outside of Laramie with no one nearby, Mason had a heat attack.  Two local nurses, who were providing additional medical support for the race in a support vehicle provided CPR and used an Automated External Defibrillator to revive Mason.  “I wouldn’t be here today if (they) didn’t have (their) act together.”  Mason was a fit cyclist when the heart attack hit, his work is now is in recovery and awareness of the cause.  Mason wasn’t remotely aware of the potential for heart attack.  The event was a wake up call and awareness, along with gratitude for the emergency staff that saved his life have grown.

What’s high LDL cholesterol have to do with it? Why medicine? Read Steve’s story to get the answers.

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“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death & taxes.” In 1789 when Benjamin Franklin penned this phrase he may not have been aware of the role genetics would play in this matter. In fact, neither did I.

After my 50th birthday and returning from a New Zealand hunt, I made an appointment to have my annual physical, along with other age appropriate tests. A couple days later I went back to go over my test results with my doctor and made plans to lower cholesterol that was beginning to creep into the mid 190s. He also suggested that I should have another test done based solely on my family history. The carotid artery ultrasound that the doctor ordered was to check if I had any blockage or plaque buildup.

I was hoping that I had avoided the health issues that my parents were currently dealing with. Dad had two heart attacks, a stroke and a pacemaker by the time he was 60. Mom had a stroke at the age of 62. Both were heavy smokers, and lead a very sedentary life. My hope was based on a lifestyle that was very different than theirs. I was much more active with sports, and had already begun shedding some pounds put on over 20 years of marriage. Working out a couple of days a week would certainly cheat genetics, right?

A few days later I was to receive a phone call, and subsequent meeting with my doctor informing me that I had advanced C.A.D. He said I had the arteries of a 75 year old man. Genetics are certain. Without any warning signs, no symptoms, no apparent physical limitations. I was told that I was a time bomb, and had a 90% chance of an event within the next 18 months.

Blood samples were sent to the Berkley Heart Lab and a plan of attack was launched. A goal to reduce the plaque buildup, by lowering my total cholesterol level to 70. A number I didn’t think possible. But with the help of Lipitor, Niaspan, diet and exercise we were able to achieve 58!

Spinning classes were my main source of exercise for a year before someone asked if I rode outside. Not having owned a bike for 20 years, I decided, what the heck. Five bikes later, lessons a 500 mile bike tour, I’ve been told I’m hooked. The thought of exercise just to stay alive was too morbid for me, cycling has changed that. I have new goals, new plans and a new outlook. Death, taxes and genetics may be certain, but now time is on my side and new adventures are there to be experienced.

Our 3rd MI story … Multiple by-pass followed by heart transplant … why?

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A soldier’s mantra is “never quit.”  Most of the time this is a good mantra, a tough mantra, a mantra that allows people to push forward.  For () John Fairbanks, there were times when a bit of quitting might have been the best action.  Fairbanks suffered years of symptoms that portended a MI episode that he ignored.  “ I ignored symptoms for years and it wasn’t until I talked with my friend Dr. Robert Brust who asked me what I felt.”  Fairbanks, a fit endurance athlete, felt pain when exercising.  The tingling pins and needles that underscored his efforts ended up being the beginnings of a blockage that affected his cardiovascular output.  “I know what the symptoms are now.  When exercising, I feel only my breath, not pain.” 

Visit the following link for more on John’s incredible story. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl//4724528.html

Todd Mellinger – Triathlete – Missed the warning signs – survived an MI and back in action again

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On Todd Melinger’s 41st birthday, he raced and qualified for the Ironman World Championships. It was the culmination of a significant racing career: 13 Ironman events, 20 years of endurance racing and a year of great events. What happened next surprised Todd: after another race like any other, his ears hurt. “I figured it must be something post race so I take a nap and it goes away.  Two days later I head out for a hard training ride, notice my heart rate is 10 beats higher then it should be and just can’t quite push the power as I (normally do.)” The day wears on and Todd’s ride and lower power gives way to a feeling of doom and anxiety. He just doesn’t feel right. A virus? General fatigue? He finds his way to the doctor thinking bronchitis but even en route Todd is losing focus and feeling progressively worse. When he gets to the Doctor, Todd realizes that there is something seriously wrong with his heart. He’s instructed to take five Aspirin. He’s given a shot of nitroglycerin. Even with the signs and symptoms of heart disease, Todd’s lifestyle is something that obscures the truth of what’s happening. “I spent the afternoon in the ER, everyone thinks that I have a virus attacking the heart lining, not uncommon among athletes and they nearly send me home until tests reveal something different.” Todd’s doctor came in and told him that he had a 50% blockage in his coronary artery that he needs and angiogram and that he has coronary artery disease. Todd explains his surprise, “ I couldn’t understand how someone who is young, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, is a top ironman age grouper, with virtually no risks, has heart disease??” I think ‘ This can’t be happening to me, I’ve done everything right!”  Todd’s heart was 85% blocked in the LAD. He had a STENT placed immediately. Todd missed warning signs and though he was able to escape with no heart damage, Todd’s life was interrupted by a heart attack. “A few simple tests could have identified my issue early, I could have prevented that heart attack.  That alone could have been worth a lifetime” Todd Melinger is MIaware. Are you?

Rick Crawford’s Lucky Generation

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Former professional triathlete and bicycle racer – Coach and Dad – has FaMIly history and multiple stents

Before Rick Crawford became one of the most recognizable names in elite cycling, before he coached Levi Leipheimer and Tom Danielson, before he redesigned the way training was done for coaching, Rick watched his father slump to the driveway in front of their house and suffer a heart-attack. That was almost 40 years ago.
“My Dad has fought against heart disease ever since. I consider him a living, breathing miracle of science. He’s had a couple more by-pass surgeries, and numerous stents since the day the MI brought him to his knees.”
Witnessing these things impacted Crawford. He made decisions about my his future with the fear that he might follow in his father’s footsteps not far behind. Crawford pursued athletics with all of his heart. A star athlete all the way through college, Crawford became a professional cyclist having never missed a day of vigorous physical activity.
All the training plans, best intentions and forewarning didn’t keep Rick MIaware, however.
“I felt a strange pressure in my chest, like a thumb was being pushed into the back side of my heart. Athletes have strange pains, and I was not overly concerned, as it seemed to pass quickly. As I lay in bed that night, the sensations returned, and they persisted until the morning. It was at that moment that I decided to go to the hospital to know what the problem was. I was suddenly aware of my genetics, and knew that I needed to take these signs seriously.”
Rick suffered two more small MI episodes after the first, believing it was over and without cause or worry.
“I didn’t change my lifestyle at all. I thought I could beat it naturally. I was arrogant.”

Further episodes required stents installed. The man responsible for the cardiovascular depth of the largest hearts in sport was suffering failure in his own. He decided to change it, to take MIawareness to a higher level.
Today, Rick Crawford has tightened up absolutely everything he can tighten up, “The meds, the diet, the stress (or lack of it)… everything with no room for error. I’ve researched the latest publications on reigning in coronary heart disease. I’m doing everything I can to control.”
Control and awareness: they are the bookends of Rick’s business as a coach. They are the markers of a great cyclist. Perhaps most importantly for Rick, they are the foundation for his own MIawareness. Rick Crawford is MIaware. Are you?

Read the inspiring tale of MI:Aware

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Please read MI:Aware? I aM Now! and gain an understanding of exactly who is susceptible to heart disease and pass it along to someone you care about.

Click here to read MI:Aware? I aM Now!

MI Aware? Yes I aM, and you will be too!

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MI Aware on Aspen Public Radio today with Mitzi Rapkin.  MI Aware aims to inspire the active community to get educated through MI story and other MI stories.   The many faces  featured in our MI stories campaign will provide information which makes the most unlikely of candidates for heart disease to question their risk and begin the process of understanding it further.

Read MI story, “MI Aware, I am Now”, from our website and forward it on to your friends and family.  It is sure to inspire them to seek knowledge and understanding of their risk and to take action.