Friday, February 01, 2008

Take care of your heart

Thanks for all your lovely support and advice, and a special thanks to those of you who "came out" and admitted to imperfect marriages. Damn, I'm really not alone!

As for me, I'm hanging in and Mr.Cotta and I are talking again. We had had a huge fight over something stupid. He did some stuff that was really ticking me off, and I called him on it, and he got hurt and angry. Mostly because I used one particular word that pissed him off. Anyway, after 24 hours of not speaking and crying, I noticed that my blood pressure seemed higher, and my fingers were swelling up. This could've been unrelated...but in the meantime, I needed to get my rings off before someone had to cut them off, so I went out and bought a very nice expensive gold necklace to hang them on. And made sure it was charged to him.

Then I bought some chocolate, and wrote an email apologizing for using that one word he doesn't like, but made it clear in the email that other behaviour he had engaged in was unacceptable, and we should talk about it, but in the meantime, we had to discuss the meeting with the architect and our plans for the reno. Whether he likes it or not, life goes on, and we have kids and a house to run and sometimes we both have to suck it up and forge ahead before the roof falls in.

So, is it possible I'm going to get preeclampsia? Maybe, but I have no protein in my urine, and my blood pressure has been good at the office checks so far, so I'm going to cut back on salt for now, and talk to my OB Monday, and call my cardiologist to double check on my SVT. I think with the heparin and aspirin I'm going to be just fine, but I know they'll want to double check some things.

That clotting disorder I have? PAI-1 4G/4G causes endometriosis, (yes, definitively) and has been linked to placental dysfunction, miscarriage, stillbirth, IUGR, pre-term labour, preeclampsia, and in non-pregnant patients, sudden cardiac death, heart disease, septic shock after trauma or any serious illness. It's the latest hottest subject of research among heart and stroke researchers, but not many front line Docs know about it. So I try to keep on top of it. More later, maybe I'll finally finish that post about it during the boring football all this weekend.

In the meantime, it's time to think about hiring that office temp and getting my professional organizer in to help me around here again. And maybe try an ADD coach? Never had one before, but some people swear by them. Anything to keep me calm and relaxed I guess. I don't know if my benefit plan will cover it, but it's worth trying, right?

So why does this blog look kind of red today and for the weekend? Because today is National Wear Red Day for Heart Disease awareness in Women. I plan on wearing red today for me, for women like Msfitza, who is dealing with a holter monitor right now, Akeeyu, who gets the joy of heart palpitations while pregnant, but so far thank god is okay, and to honour a very dear friend who came down with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy after the births of her children, but had such a hell of time convincing Doctors she was actually sick and not just a complainer that she became very very ill and almost died. (If any of you ever want to dispute my contention that most Doctors are careful, I will win on anecdotes just like one, in a fuckin' heartbeat, okay?)

She is going to live long and well, I think, but for various reasons cannot raise awareness the way she wants to right now. So I will.

In her words:
I have heart failure, related to my pregnancy. It's called peripartum cardiomyopathy. I had a defibrillator implanted. Had I been treated in time, the defibrillator and permanent heart damage could have been avoided. Awareness needs to be raised to help future women with PPCM avoid the unnecessary progression of this disease. Would you help me, by forwarding the following information to friends and family?

We don't normally think about "HEART FAILURE" and "PREGNANCY" together. We should. Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), a serious disease resulting in heart failure in young women during or shortly after pregnancy, occurs in the USA every 2500 to 3500 births, and even more frequently in some other countries.

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, swelling, and palpitations are some common PPCM/heart failure symptoms. These presenting symptoms are often dismissed as just a part of being pregnant; but death, heart transplant, left ventricular assist device, implantable cardiac defibrillator, and permanent heart damage are common results of PPCM when undiagnosed/delayed diagnosis or untreated/inadequately treated.

With awareness, mothers and their doctors can avoid delays in diagnosis and apply the best conventional heart failure treatment (diuretics, ACE-inhibitors, and beta-blockers) resulting in survival and recovery of full heart function in a very large number of women. The diagnosis is easy if an echocardiogram is done.

There are additional tests that may indicate that something has gone wrong in the heart. These include Blood High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (HS-CRP), Blood B-Type Natriuretic Peptide, and Blood Cardiac Tropinin. Elevated results indicate a possible inflammatory process in the heart, in which case an echocardiogram should follow. A new tool, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, may also show affected areas.

Initial reports suggest that an elevated plasma level of HS-CRP in excess of 10 mg/L is associated in many patients at diagnosis with acute myocarditis, viral myocarditis, lymphocytic myocarditis, inflammatory cardiomyopathy, PPCM, and many cases of idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (IDCM). The HS-CRP test is readily available in most labs at a cost of $15 - $30 in the USA. If positive, more testing will be needed.

Will you please help us get the word out by forwarding this email to your family and friends?

To view the 2006 "Lancet" article on peripartum cardiomyopathy:

This is a forum site that has a lot of information about PPCM. It's called A Mother's Heart.

PPCM isn't the only thing you could have, there are many things that can go wrong with a woman's heart and because heart disease is the number one killer of women and yet is so rarely diagnosed in women, it's important to pay attention to symptoms and demand to be taken care of even if your doctor tries to dismiss you or act like all you need is some antidepressants for female stress. *eyeroll*

Women need to take care of hearts, and safeguard our health from the boneheads who minimize our very very real physical health issues.


  1. I like the red. I've been thinking I should get those placenta slides looked at and now, well, your anecdotes always kick butt. You knew you'd get no argument from me right?

    My left shin is numb, my vision still gets fuzzy and no one is worried because I'm not pregnant anymore and I didn't die, so obviously I must be fine.

  2. Obviously, because of my own experience, even the least possibility of PE terrifies me. I'm glad you're staying on top of this.

  3. I take care of my heart in another sense.

  4. [Dusting off my old rusty feminist armor & shrugging it over my shoulders] -- you realize most drs trained up in our patriarchal system place no real VALUE on a woman's individual health & happiness; it's only important that she's producing cannon fodder, right?!?
    [Goes to closet to dig out lance & shield...]