Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Turn on your Heart Light

If you were reading Troubles back in 2008, you may remember that I had a procedure to determine whether or not I should get a defibrillator placed. The results indicated that they were able to get my heart out of rhythm and that a defibrillator was recommended. After about 3 months of mulling it over and not being able to decide, I realized my indecision was stemming from my resistance to the idea. I did not get the defibrillator.

The reason I had this test performed in the first place was that I had had a series of results from previous, less invasive studies which were troubling to my cardiologist. These studies included a stress test and multiple Echocardiograms.

An Echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart that helps determine your ejection fraction, which is basically a measure of heart function. More specifically:

ejection fraction (Ef) is the fraction of blood pumped out of a ventricle with each heart beat - Wikipedia

Healthy people generally have EFs of around 50-75% (this varies from source to source). My readings of 2 years ago were running a steady 35%. This is what concerned my doctors because I was right on the tipping point. If it had been reading below 35, they would have firmly recommended the defibrillator. As it was, they left the decision up to me, and I decided I was not ready for the lifestyle change and was willing to take the risk.

Last week I had a follow up Echo. The cardiologist's nurse called me the next day and informed me that my ejection fraction had read in the 55-60% range. My reaction to this news can be described as floored disbelief. Part of me was thrilled, but my more cautious side had a pile of questions for the doctor, the most important of which was - "did they make a mistake?".

I now have an appointment scheduled for this Friday so hopefully I can get at least some of my questions answered. I am slightly more hopeful after talking with my kidney doctor at dialysis yesterday. He had a run in with my cardiologist and it sounds like he believes the results. I'm not celebrating yet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.