So, after an echo-cardiogram and stress test I sat down with my cardiologist to discuss some matters of the heart. Just a side note, watching the live video of my heart beating and the valves opening and closing was pretty fascinating. I wish I could get a copy of the video for my blog. It would make a great anniversary post "My heart beats for you dear..."
But I digress.
Oh wait, one more thing. My cardiologist looks like this guy:
The actor William Daniels who won two Emmy awards playing Dr. Craig on a series called St. Elsewhere which I used to watch on Tuesdays while I was waiting for the hubs to get home from his MBA night class back in our trailer house/early poverty days. (That show also starred Denzel Washington and Howie Mandel. Oh the early 80's....)
And I did it again--off on another tangent! That's what happens when you get old. Bear with me here, I will get to the point eventually.
Where was I? Oh! The diagnosis.
Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
Let's read what the Mayo Clinic has to say about it:
Left ventricular hypertrophy is enlargement (hypertrophy) of the muscle tissue that makes up the wall of your heart's main pumping chamber (left ventricle).
Left ventricular hypertrophy develops in response to some factor, such as high blood pressure, that requires the left ventricle to work harder. As the workload increases, the walls of the chamber grow thicker, lose elasticity and eventually may fail to pump with as much force as that of a healthy heart.
This explains a few things. Such as, why I feel like I am going to suffocate if I try to run uphill. The left ventricle takes the oxygenated blood from the lungs to send it off through the arteries to bring that life-giving oxygen to the rest of the body. So less oxygenated blood moving means less oxygen means suffocation. I have trained my heart out (bad pun) and still could not build the stamina for a real long-distance or strenuous run. I can walk all day and hike 'til the cows come home. I just can't do that at a running pace. It turns out my body requires large amounts of oxygen to run like that and my poor heart was working hard but falling short in the oxygen delivery department.
I come by my heart damage through high blood pressure and I come by my high blood pressure thanks to the genetic lottery of having both parents with it. As I have said before, when it comes to genetics, you win some, you lose some. At this point I suppose I would trade a few gray hairs for lower blood pressure. But I didn't get to choose, so with what I am saving on hair dye I can now spend on blood pressure medication.
The good news: it's reversible. I am on blood pressure medication and in a desperate effort to avoid a second medication, I am following this eating plan:
As for that promise of "Run and not be weary" my promise is really "Run and not drop dead" which, you know, works for me. Or maybe "Walk at a vigorous pace but slow down on the hills and not be weary."
Hopefully my enlarged, overworked heart will shrink three sizes (a reverse Grinch--ha!) and maybe learn to work smarter not harder.
In the meantime, I won't be running any marathons and that's fine by me. I think I was meant for walking and hiking at a pace that allows for taking in the vistas and the scenery. It seems my heart is telling me to stop and smell the roses.