Saturday, March 28, 2015

"If Either of Your Parents Smoked, Go and Get Your Heart Checked Out"

That's the ominous headline from TIME.

My father smoked Camels when I was a kid. One grandfather smoked Winstons. The other grandfather preferred stogies. I was around my dad and grandfather #1 all the time as a kid.

Additionally, I often was taken along with my dad and grandfather when they bowled, where I learned how to keep score. (This now being an entirely useless skill.) There usually was cigarette smoke wafting into my face throughout these evenings out. So, I got exposed to lots of second-hand smoke.

Except for a few cigarettes and Tiparillos (don't ask me to explain), I never smoked, one of the big risk factors for heart attacks.

Until recently, I've never been overweight. And I have tried always to exercise regularly and eat right. I also had no relevant family bad heart history.

Yet, in 2010, I had a major heart attack. My cardiologist says it had nothing to do with stress, but with a chunk of plaque that lodged the wrong way, creating a 100% blockage in left anterior descending artery. Fortunately, I was otherwise healthy enough that collateral arteries took up the slack and I wasn't killed by a blockage that the cardiologists graphically refer to as "the widow maker."

My cardiologist calls my heart attack, which resulted in the loss of 40% of my heart and the installation of a stent and later, a pacemaker/defibrillator, "a fluke."

That may be. But I can only refer to my survival as a miracle.

This article from TIME makes me wonder if the heart attack wasn't a delayed response to secondhand smoke to which I was exposed in childhood.

We'll never know this side of heaven, of course. But I think the headline gives good advice to those exposed to secondhand smoke: Get your heart checked.

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