Interventional Cardiology Expert Forum
Life after heart failure
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Questions in the Interventional Cardiology forum are answered by medical professionals affiliated with the Truman Medical Center. Topics covered include acute coronary syndrome, angina , atrial fibrillation , cardiac catheterization , cardiomyopathy , drug abuse & cardiac disease, echocardiography , heart failure , hypertension & heart disease , lipid management , minorities and heart disease, peripheral vascular disease prevention, valvular heart disease , women’s heart health, and the warning signs of a heart attack.

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Life after heart failure

Dear doctors,
Thank you for giving your time in this forum. In March 2007 I drove myself to the emergency room because of shortness of breath. Thought I had bronchitis. I woke up 10 days later after extubating myself (!) -- I was in an induced coma and don't remember it) and was told I had congestive heart failure, but they didn't know why. They ran all the tests, no blockages, valve or artery problems. I was a smoker at the time, so they were concerned about my lungs as well. EF was 20. They eventually chalked it up to my heart being attacked by a virus. Last EF, nearly a year later, the cardio said was normal -- 55 or so. I am overweight and can't seem to lose the weight. Also took up smoking a little bit -- a few a day. I know, I know, I am an idiot. Cardio has me on low dosages of quinapril (10 mg a day) and metropolol (50 mg a day). Of course was told also to never smoke again and lose weight. I see the cardio just once a year for an echo. OK, my questions are: 1) Why do you suppose he still has me on drugs 22 months after the incident? 2) Have you ever heard of a virus attacking the heart being caused by a stomach virus? I remembered just recently that I was horribly nauseous and throwing up about a month before the incident, which I attributed to food poisoning. I am just still trying to figure out why this happened to me. 3) Could it be congenital -- something they couldn't find despite all the tests (angio, echo, ct scans, etc.)? I am worried that something will happen again, and I do have fleeting heart pains now and again, and sometimes a general ache around the heart. Other that that, am very active, feel normal, infrequent shortness of breath (from being overweight and smoking), otherwise OK. Finally, could you please kick me in the *** and tell me to lose the weight and stop smoking once and for all. I mean, they had me on the list at Cleveland Clinic for a heart transplant before I started recovering on my own!!! Thanks so much. (From Columbus, OH)
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Certainly viral infections can cause a cardiomyopathy and the viruses are frequently GI related although not invariably.  You are very fortunate that you returned  to normal.  How long to take the meds is open to question but since you were so sick I would probably feel you should continue them.  A program of diet and exercise is obviously helpful as well as absolute smoking cessation.  You dodged one bullet don't go for a second.
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