Patterico's Pontifications


PSA from Bradley Fikes, on Having a Heart Attack

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:08 pm

Our own Bradley Fikes had a heart attack recently. I asked him if he wanted me to say anything about it on the blog. He said it was OK to mention it, and sent some words of caution via e-mail:

The main point to stress is that if someone has a pain that won’t go away in the chest and/or left arm, (or certain other symptoms), call 911 immediately. Heart attacks can be hard to spot, because the pain may not occur in the chest — I was fooled by having no pain there –but the left arm should have been a giveaway. If it’s not a heart attack, you still need the pain treated. And if it is a heart attack, prompt attention works wonders. Moreover, I’d been feeling perpetually exhausted for the last week or so, a sign I should have gone for a checkup. I’d been blaming it on being out of shape, it is so easy to rationalize things.

I made a big mistake by waiting so long — the entire weekend — and only went in when the pain was intolerable and wouldn’t go away. Things could have been far worse. What may have helped is that I had been taking aspirin. And in fact, taking aspirin while waiting for the ambulance is recommended.

It turns out that I had a moderate heart attack, in which blood vessels were partially occluded, so the damage was much less than it would otherwise have been. And to make sure of that, I’ve been very extensively tested.

Another thing is to take it easy when recovering. I went back to work in a few days; three weeks would have been better. I went back to work, then went back in for two more stents (for a total of five), and now am off until this Tuesday. Even if you’re feeling good, that time off is helpful psychologically, and to learn the various lifestyle changes, and practical things like the names and dosages of your medications, and side effects.

Also, it really helps to have an advocate with you, someone who knows you and who can fill in the gaps you don’t when the doctor is asking questions. My advocates were my sisters, especially my sister Sue Tate. A former hospital employee, Sue drove me to the hospital and spent many hours with me and made sure my symptoms were properly understood. Hospital employees are human, and they tend to be more attentive to a patient who has an advocate, and visitors. Also, if you’re a patient in pain, you’re going to be distracted and it helps to have someone else to explain things.

Finally, if you’re stuck in the hospital for any reason, and like to read, an Amazon Kindle is wonderful. My sister Sue lent me hers, and I was so glad. Now I’m going to get one myself.

Bradley added:

One more point, about medications. If you’ve had a heart attack, you’re going to be on meds. If cost is a concern, aggressively look for generic substitutes for the costly name-brand drugs. Ask your doctor about them.

Walmart is a great ally, with its $4 a month/$10 for 90 days program. It has quite a lot of drugs, for many conditions. Here is the list, in PDF.

Some of the drugs on the list that I take are lisinopril and metroprolol for blood pressure, and trazodone, an antidepressant prescribed off-label for sleep. There are also a few cholesterol-lowering statins on the list. I’ve been prescribed Lipitor, which is expensive. But assuming my next test is OK, I’m going to ask to be put on one of the genetic statins.

Anyone who is having trouble paying for brand-name drugs should look at the Walmart list.

All good to know.

Best wishes to Bradley.

52 Responses to “PSA from Bradley Fikes, on Having a Heart Attack”

  1. Get well soon, Bradley. And when browsing the intarwebs, watch out for attack dogs (like me).

    John Hitchcock (9e8ad9)

  2. I used to have severe pain in my left arm that wouldn’t go away.

    Then I took off the wedding ring.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery, sir. 😉

    Icy Texan (d61420)

  3. Yikes! Get well soon.

    htom, not a professional (be9437)

  4. Lipitor gave me severe leg muscle pain and I had to switch a couple of times. Then I quit taking anything and didn’t mention it to my cardiologist. So far, he hasn’t noticed. I’ve had an angiogram so I know I don’t have atherosclerosis.

    Now I’m dealing with what might be altitude problems since moving. No, not “atitude problems”.

    Mike K (d6b02c)

  5. It says so much for Bradley that most of his commentary is meant to help others, such as with costs or coping. A lesser man would be more concerned for himself at such a time. Bradley’s one of my favorite commenters here. I hope he feels better soon.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  6. Bradley,

    My best wishes and hopes for a full and quick recovery. Take it easy and enjoy the time away from work and its demands. It will be there when you return. You have something far more important to be focusing on: getting well.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  7. Then I quit taking anything and didn’t mention it to my cardiologist.

    Not really my business, but I’d get a new cardiologist before I did something like that. If you find a drug intolerable, that’s a legit reason to decide it’s not part of your future plan.

    Anyway, hope Glenn Reynolds gets his wish with all those far fetched ‘faster please’ medications and treatment theories. We could have a dramatically better world if attitudes were a little different, but I get the impression that a lot of people in power do not actually want to extend the human life too far. It’s a softer version of the ‘filthy babies’ nut.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  8. Get well soon, Bradley.

    BTW, that’s how my father died. He had a nagging pain between his shoulder blades. For three weeks. He insisted it was musculoskeletal (he had ankylosing spondylitis) and refused to go to the emergency room. By the time his heart stopped nagging and screamed, he had lost 90% function.

    nk (db4a41)

  9. Lipitor is worthless. Fry some bacon and soak up the rendered fat with some whole wheat bread. That’s a better HDL booster. (I am neither a doctor nor a medical researcher.)

    nk (db4a41)

  10. Comment by nk — 9/9/2010 @ 7:47 pm

    Oh my gosh. Am so sorry to hear that.

    And — wow, Bradley. Hope you’re better fast. Take care.

    no one you know (6631bc)

  11. Plavix is another drug that should not be allowed.

    nk (db4a41)

  12. Best wishes, Brother Bradley. I’m glad it wasn’t worse.

    REFF (30ac20)

  13. Whoops. Guess I gave away one of my sockpuppets, too. dammit.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  14. Bradley

    Thank God you are okay, prayers from Doha

    The Johnsons

    EricPWJohnson (17f94c)

  15. Get well soon, Bradley

    ian cormac (6709ab)

  16. Hang in there buddy, oh there is one side effect of metroprolol that turned up in me it’s called

    reversable hairloss, of course the way to reverse it is to stop taking the medication, which is not a good Idea, I just accepted reality and started combing my hair back, no point in trying to come over anymore 😉

    Dan Kauffman (3c9c17)

  17. Take care of yourself, Brother Bradley.

    either orr (6d4ded)

  18. Best wishes Bradley. Had the same problem a year and a half ago in March. Left arm had pain radiating down it with numbness also. Had the test and they discovered one of my arteries was 95% blocked. Put in a stint and took care of it. NO MORE PAIN, AGHHHHHHHHHH.

    peedoffamerican (e40126)

  19. Take care Bro Bradley. Follow the regular checkups they recommend. If you haven’t been on blood pressure meds before or are tweaking them, a home monitor can be a useful addition to your toolkit, particularly if you synch it up with your doctor’s. You can track readings and save yourself some in-patient visits.

    daleyrocks (940075)

  20. Patterico, thank you for posting this. I have known Bradley for several years electronically, and he has always been such a fine gentleman in every sense of the term. It is not surprising he wanted to help others. He always has.

    Everyone has a slightly different biochemistry, so it is not a surprise that people react differently to various drugs. Use your doctor’s expertise and do your research. One size does not fit all.

    Speaking of which, I need to work on a lecture for tomorrow on lipids, coincidentally….

    Bradley, get well soon.

    Eric Blair (58b0cf)

  21. Bradley:

    I’m glad to hear you are doing well. All the best.

    Ag80 (5c7ef4)

  22. Oh, and iPads are darned cool.

    Eric Blair (58b0cf)

  23. Bradley,

    Thank you for taking the time to talk about what you’ve learned, and best wishes on your speedy and full recovery.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  24. I am happy to hear that you are doing better, Brother Bradley, C.O.R. Hopefully you will be able to meet up in October.

    JD (8ded14)

  25. Fry some bacon and soak up the rendered fat with some whole wheat bread

    Uh, just out of curiosity nk, do you then eat the bacon or the bread?

    Get well soon Brother Bradley. We need your wisdom here.

    JVW (eccfd6)

  26. Get well, BJF. I’m praying for you!

    I’m interesting in the Plavix comment. My Dad has been on it for a year following his stent surgery and then is being kept on it for longer following his pacemaker implant.

    Just noting that my Dad is an active 81 year old man who would have died in Britain because he’s old. Just saying.

    Vivian Louise (c7cad6)

  27. I was wondering if this should be made public here or not, but knew the support would be about 100%.

    I’ve said it privately to Brad, but he’s one of the best guys I know, and I know he’s glad to hear that at least sushi is good for a bad heart.

    LYT (ee3ffd)

  28. On July 3rd, 2001, a guy who hauled cement for me complained, that he wasn’t feeling good, and I joked with him that he was probably having a heart attack. He said that his left arm really did hurt, but we laughed it off; he was 41 years old and in good shape. He was done for the day, and headed home after that.

    On July 5th, I got the word: he had gone home, sat down in the recliner, and died.

    If someone tells you that his left arm is hurting, it’s better to look like an over-concerned fool than it is to let him laugh it off and have a heart attack.

    The guilty Dana (f39d27)

  29. I’m sorry to hear about this, Bradley..take care. Great idea about the Kindle (won’t a netbook work too or do you need that 3G thing??)

    cassandra in MT (4121a6)

  30. Bradley, I was so sorry to read of your poor health but so relieved to read you are all right.

    Please take it easy on yourself. I’ve noticed in your writing how you tackle a project or issue, examining all sides and then championing it. I think you should make yourself a project to ensure good health.

    OK, you have sisters–you don’t need me, but still. Do take care of yourself.

    Nancy (84f452)

  31. Uh, just out of curiosity nk, do you then eat the bacon or the bread?

    Yes. Both.

    We’re basically a pork and olive oil family these days. Hormones and antibiotics fed to the cattle more than fat is the main reason, but you can make candles from venison and beef tallow. They’re waxes. Pork fat, I understand, actually increases the good cholestorol.

    I will not express an opinion about chicken because I do not want a mob of Jewish mothers beating me up. 😉

    nk (db4a41)

  32. What bothers me is that I have recurring pains in my left shoulder, which is always diagnosed as tendentious in various tendons of the left shoulder, and not a heart attack, but good that you came in. It goes away with treatment. Comes again. Repeat.

    There doesn’t seem to be a way for me to make this determination.

    htom, not a professional (be9437)

  33. Hoping for a full and quick recovery, Bradley!

    LisaA (c984c3)

  34. This is all one needs to know about Bradley – when I first “met” him on Cathy’s blog, he was a strict adherent to AGW. Since then, he’s changed a few of his positions on the subject, after reviewing new evidence that’s come in regarding the various studies on the issue. How many scientific writers have ever done something similar? Not many, sad to say.

    I’ve said this to him on many occasions – he should be working for Scientific America, but they’ve already lost their credibility. Good to know he’ll still be around this mortal coil.

    Richey Daley's Olympics (d61c0d)

  35. Ah, Bradley, I see sushi is still good for you, so Nobu in Malibu it will be!

    JD (ff08c4)

  36. Sushi? Gasp! The stuff they ask us to do for our health.

    Bradley, I pray that your recovery will continue and all will be well. Thanks for the advice; it’s given me a few things to think about.

    I may make a donation to bacon research, in the hopes that by the time I need treatment for my heart there will be more palatable dietary options.

    Gesundheit (cfa313)

  37. Gesundheit – Bacon is its own food group, a divine food.

    JD (ff08c4)

  38. Thanks to all of you! I am indeed recovering, and getting many tests to ensure that I do. I see a doctor today for a followup.

    cassandra in MT, I have a netbook, but those are too heavy and big to comfortably read in bed, and their battery life is much shorter than a Kindle, which can be used heavily for days between charges.

    Just Call Me Senator (fb9e90)

  39. Best wishes to my Brother Bradley.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  40. Hope you heal fast Bradley.

    I asked my doc to consider substituting generic meds for my blood pressure and cholesterol because the cost of the brand name drugs was killing me. He agreed to do so and shifted me to a combination that was 1/10th the cost at Costco and they actually worked better than the brand name ones!

    A cautionary note about stopping aspirin and any BP or cholesterol meds on your own: DON’T! The research shows that stopping or reducing dosages can significantly increase your chance of a heart attack or stroke to a level higher than before you started taking them.

    From the Mayo Clinic site” “What happens if you stop taking aspirin every day?

    You might be surprised to learn that stopping daily aspirin therapy can have a rebound effect that may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. If you’ve been on daily aspirin therapy and want to stop, it’s important to talk to your doctor before making any changes. Suddenly stopping daily aspirin therapy could have a rebound effect that may trigger a blood clot.

    Similar cautions are out there about statins and BP meds.

    Take care everyone!

    in_awe (44fed5)

  41. Let me also mention that anyone taking statin drugs should also be taking CoEnzyme Q supplements (ubiquinone, ubiquinol). Available in every Vitamin Shoppe, at Walgreens, etc. You can take up to 400mg a day and more beneficially.

    It’s costly, but statin drugs decrease the amount of this incredibly important energy-generating enzyme (you might remember it from high school biology in the Krebs Cycle) and because of it can cause various problems down the road.

    luagha (5cbe06)

  42. Uh, “Just Call Me Senator” was moi.

    Thank you for the additional advice!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C. O.R. (a18ddc)

  43. Also, BP measured in the doctor’s office today: 120/70, with a pulse rate of 68. Yay!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C. O.R. (a18ddc)

  44. Glad you are okay and on the mend, Brother Bradley!

    The best advice I ever received from my flight instructor: “Fly right through that sh!t!”

    Bad advice for flying, great advice for life. Hope that helps 😉

    Get and stay healthy, Brother Bradley.

    Pons Asinorum (eb27a7)

  45. Bacon and fudge. Homer Simpson’s dream pairing.

    Mmmmmm . . . . .

    Icy Texan (d61420)

  46. in_awe,

    He agreed to do so and shifted me to a combination that was 1/10th the cost at Costco and they actually worked better than the brand name ones!

    What is that combo? I’d like to ask my doctor about it.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C. O.R. (a18ddc)

  47. Bradley, I’m glad to see you are well enough to be posting here, and I wish you a fast and full recovery.

    My best man had a heart attack two days before my wedding; I know as much as anyone who hasn’t had one themselves how hard recovery is, and I wish you the gentlest road possible to it.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  48. Good on you, Bro. Bradley, and welcome to the club.

    Beldar (d56f98)

  49. S**t, that was my leftover sock puppet. Anyway, get well soon Bradley.

    BT (74cbec)

  50. Beldar,
    That was a great post, down to the photos you were taking. I also took photos with my cell phone camera, including as I was being taken into the cath lab.

    I hope you’re still making progress. It’s been a month and a day since my heart attack, and I’m looking toward the future.

    Just Call Me Senator (fb9e90)

  51. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Bradley.

    The media biz, particularly in the environments of busy newsrooms, be they print or broadcast, are awash with pressures few outside the biz comprehend. Daily, hourly deadlines punctuated with gulped coffee and hurried lunches, do not wear well on heart nor mind over extended periods. But you know this. Mend and take stock of things. Print may be dying but that’s for newspapers, not newspaper reporters. Get well, and get up and about real soon. Best to you– DCSCA

    DCSCA (9f0312)

  52. Brad, So glad you are doing much better. I agree, its clear you made your points to help others!Namaste!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a948e1)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.1429 secs.