December 2015 Archives

A quick update


First and foremost, thanks to everyone for the notes and well wishes as they relate to my last entry about the 'ole ticker. I appreciate everyone and everything - thanks a million!

Here's an update on the events that have taken place since the Thanksgiving Day Shocker:

- I had a full-scale echocardiogram done on 12/4/15. This was a cakewalk. I went to a gorgeous cardiovascular facility on the east side of Madison, and laid on my side while two technicians took measurements, images, and audio/video recordings of my heart by way of and electronic imaging device that resembled a sonogram-like wand. The process took about 1.5 hours, start-to-finish.

Those results were sent to an echocardiologist at the UW, who consulted with my (new to me) cardiologist.

- I had an in-depth exam and meeting with the chair of the UW Cardiology department on 12/8/15. He was *extremely* thorough - more EKGs and a stress test, along with a complete review of my entire medical history and a detailed discussion about the events and treatment that I received on Thanksgiving. He was a very interesting guy and did a fantastic job of explaining everything in perfect detail and clarity. I appreciated his genuine personality and his honesty about things.

Long story short...

My atria are enlarged, and my heart is "slightly" larger than normal. Nothing major, just something to note. The larger heart could be from having been heavy for a long time, or it could be genetic.

Enlarged atria can be caused by any number of reasons: genetic flaws, high blood pressure, previous cardiac events, diabetes, obesity, or excessive alcohol intake. An enlarged atria can cause atrial fibrillation and in really bad cases, strokes.


The doctor thought I was in "outstanding overall physical condition" and at "immeasurably low risk" of having any additional cardiac issues in the near term. He said that because I've had one AFib event, I am more likely to have another at some point in my future. But, I can minimize that likelihood by doing a few things.

I'll be taking a daily baby aspirin, and he's scheduled me for a follow-up echocardiogram in March of 2016. From now until then, he'd like for me to cease all drinking of alcohol. No beer, no wine, nothing. I told him I was unlikely to do that (I'm not going to lie to a doctor, especially a cardiologist), but that I would cut down.


He really would like me to not have any drinks until the follow-up echocardiogram and visit, because (as he put it), "If we can drain the swamp before the next visit, we'll have a good idea if the enlargement is genetic or environmental." Oye. If there's no change to the size (and I don't imbibe during that time), he said, "You can live life as normal. You're healthier than 99.9% of the people I know."

So... looks like 'ole Steve-o is going to be taking it easy for a few months and truly focusing on diet and exercise. It's probably a good thing... I've managed to put on a few pounds (weighed-in at 188 today, vs my normal 170-175), so this can't hurt.

I'll keep you updated on progress.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

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