February is Heart Health Month and much of the conversation focuses on prevention. We’ve all heard the suggestions, eat a healthy diet, get exercise, get your preventive health screenings. But what happens if you start to notice issues with your heart? According to a study by Massachusetts General Hospital, 20-30% of patients diagnosed with a heart condition experience anxiety related to their condition. Often, fear of the unknown can contribute to this anxiety. In this article, we asked Brent Lewis, someone who recently experienced heart issues, to tell us about his experience. We hope that his story can help those who are worried about what happens after a diagnosis. This is his story:
“To begin with, I submitted to a stress test procedure for my heart at the Dixie Regional Hospital. After my stress test, a nurse called informing me that I had a problem on the left side of my heart that required an angiogram procedure a week later.
The anxiety this call generated, coupled with my having to wait a full week before my angiogram procedure created a well spring of fearful thoughts and worries that overwhelmed my common sense. Finally on Friday morning at 8:30, I checked myself into the Cardiac section of the Dixie Regional facility and was whisked off to my own room for preparation work. My wife and sister were with me in my room.
My angiogram was scheduled for 9:00 AM. After 10:00 AM, the doctor came to my room and informed me that my stress test indicated a moderate risk issue to the main artery on the left side of my heart. He further informed me about the possibility of putting a stint in this artery. He also said if the artery were too diseased, they would have to do surgery at a later date.
So, now the fear is cascading through my mind like a Kentucky waterfall. But once I got into the operating room, my fears are softened by the happy nurses and prep-personnel working on me. I was asked what my favorite song is, as if they could supply the operating room with my own music. I told them anything from Pink Floyd. They said they didn’t have any Pink Floyd. I said they needed to improve their music library. We laughed. Then then piped some bland music unknown to me into the room. I was then given a drug that didn’t put me to sleep but left me feeling a little sleepy and not as nervous about the procedure.
Then the doctor came into the room, and everyone got stone cold serious. I felt a slight pain in my right wrist where the catheter was being inserted into my vein. After about 20 minutes, the doctor announced, ‘We’re done.’ He then told me my veins were clean, that I didn’t have any blockage to my heart and that the stress test had been a false positive. Evidently about 5-10% of all stress tests show a false positive. ‘Good news Mr. Lewis,’ he said. I responded ‘Bodda Boom, Bodda Bing’ and we all laughed. Then all my anxiety and worries floated away like milk weed on a breezy, sunny summer afternoon.”
Brent Lewis is an In-Home Services Case Manager with the Area Agency on Aging- Five County. He has been with the AAA- Five County for a year. He works with the New Choices Waiver Program in Iron and Kane Counties.