A few weeks back, I was supposed to venture up to the Southern Highlands to do a Sunday ride with my mate Dave and a few of his buddies from a car club. It was going to be a pretty decent ride with a few hills thrown in. Saturday afternoon I wasn’t feeling to flash, so I rang Dave and told him i would give it a miss.
Sunday, I kept an eye on his Strava feed, but saw nothing. I was thinking “the sly bastard has demolished some of my times on Strava and is keeping me waiting”. Nothing showed up on Sunday night. Monday morning I sent him an SMS. It wasn’t til later that night that I received this message back.
I damn near had a heart attack myself when I read it. Questions were popping into my head in rapid succession. Did it happen out on the road? Did the ambo come? Why? Of the group of mates that I usually cycle with, Dave would be the lightest and probably the fittest as well. He was the last to start in the CuBeCyCl HITT a while back. He did the fastest time that day. He cycles roughly 150-200kms a week. He was the last person I would have expected to have a heart attack.
Nearly three weeks later, I have spoken to Dave a few times since. He is in pretty good spirits, and even ventured out on the bike a couple of days back, albeit only for a short roll around the block. He made a very good post to a cycling forum we both post on, and I asked him if I could post it here. He agreed, so i will let Dave tell the story.
I have mentioned this a bit in the 6k Club thread but I thought I would go into a bit more detail here in case it helps someone.
Me: I’m a 45 years old healthy male, 46 in two weeks. I’ve been riding two years and have lost 10kg and got my fitness to a level I’m very pleased with. I commute to work most days and ride 50-100km on the weekend.
Two weeks ago i was riding 70km with 6 mates. This was a ride I had done before a few times and included some serious climbs. I felt strong and actually broke 3 PBs along the way. Towards the end of the ride I felt that I had indigestion after we stopped for coffee. I really felt nothing more than that and it did not slow me down.
When I got home the pain started to intensify fast. Within 10 minutes I had to go lie down. Then I broke into a cold sweat and I knew I was in trouble. My wife came to check on me and saw I was not well so she grabbed my mate who is a Dr. He checked my BP (which was normal) and decided it was best to call the ambulance. Next thing I knew I was in hospital on an ECG with all sorts of drugs going into me. The pain was really bad and the morphine only dulled it.
Soon I was transferred to the High Dependancy Unit and was given a life saving drug called Metalyse to rapidly break down clots. I could feel it going through my body like a wave and the pain subsided within 15 minutes. Life saved!
The next day I was sent for an angiogram where they shove catheters up your femoral artery via your groin, inject dye and x-ray your arteries. The short answer was that my arteries were normal with minor plaque. The Dr said sometimes shit happens. 😯 😥
I stayed in hospital for another day and sent home to rest with a bag full of tablets to take.
Two weeks later I was off to the cardiologist;
My arteries appear to have a minor amount of plaque or build up in them which is considered normal for someone my age. This plaque is like a thin, lumpy build up on the walls of your arteries. He said that these can peel away at the edges and sometimes form like an ulcer. Stress may increase the chance of this happening. In my case what he suspects has happened is that a part of the plaque in my LAD (left anterior descending) artery has peeled away from the artery wall and allowed the blood to flow behind it. This would have caused the initial discomfort that I felt on the ride. Once this happens the heart thinks the artery has ruptured and is bleeding so it forms a clot really fast. This clot then blocks the LAD which causes a Acute Myocardial Infarction or rapid and intense heart muscle death. This was the intense pain I felt when we called for the ambulance. The Metalyse drug they gave me in hospital dissolved the clot very fast and allowed the blood and oxygen to flow to the heart again. He thinks the site was near a bend in the artery which when exercising vigorously will be flowing more and cause the plaque to peel away faster. Maybe….
The cardiologist performed an ultrasound on my heart today and found that the residual damage at the site of the clot is minute. The bottom of the left ventricle is showing some damage from being starved of oxygen in that it is not moving as fast as it should. This may fully recover quickly or it may take time. The ultrasound also showed that I have developed a new clot near the base of the left ventricle which was not there last monday when I had the angiogram. He said that is caused by the stress of the events and may be because that part of the heart is a bit lazy.
He has given me Clexane which I have to inject into myself twice a day over the weekend to thin the blood fast and hopefully dissolve this clot. He also put me on Warfarin and was surprised they did not prescribe it when I left the hospital. This will also help thin the blood. I have a blood test on Monday to determine if the Warfarin has become affective so I can cease the Clexane injections.
He said I should make a full recovery and would like to get me back to full fitness in six weeks. This may take longer but he would like to work to this time frame. I will work with the Cardio Rehab unit at the Hospital during this time where they will perform measured fitness tests on me at intervals. The Dr said I should be able to get back on my bike next week and start slow.
In the long term I will stay on aspirin to thin the blood and some cholesterol lowering medication. This is not only about lowering cholesterol but it also conditions the plaque and makes it smoother and less likely to break away. My blood pressure is fine and my weight and general health is good so I should recover fully fast.
Seems that I was unlucky to have a heart attack when I am so young and fit but very lucky to still be alive and learn form this. The odds of it happening again now that I will be watched are greatly reduced.
Overal I am feeling fine. Still and bit shocked by all this but trying to stay positive for the future. I don’t want to scare anyone with this but just be aware that live is a fragile thing. Enjoy it while you can and I hope you never have to go through this.
I want to thank Dave for having the guts to post something like that. Even it if only helps one other person, it will have been worthwhile.
Dave’s incident was fresh in my mind when I made the post about the hurtbox the other day. If you are over 40, look after yourself.
Safe riding this weekend, and a speedy recovery to my mate Dave.