Welcome everyone to Steve’s Caringbridge. For those who are just hearing about Steve’s illness, the gist of things is that he is in heart failure and hospitalized at Abbott Heart Hospital where he is receiving world class care from multiple teams of excellent cardiologists and nurses.
This might be too much information for some, but I am writing with the questions others have asked us during the past week in mind. The paragraphs below will hopefully provide answers to the most of your questions. With that in mind here is an general overview of the medical doings at Abbott over the course of the past two weeks:
Steve’s story begins with a trip to urgent care early Saturday afternoon, June 19 for insomnia and anxiety that had become so severe that he was unable to sit or lie down for more than a few minutes. He had also begun to experience pressure in his stomach when he tried to eat and swelling in his legs.
The docs in urgent care ran labs, an EKG and took a chest x-ray and within a few hours we were told that Steve was being admitted to Abbott Heart Hospital with congestive heart failure.
Following more tests at the hospital Steve had a coronary angioplasty to determine the extent of any blockage to the coronary arteries that feed the heart muscle. When possible stents are placed right away and life moves on. Unfortunately the doctors found that three primary arteries to to Steve’s heart were blocked 90%, 98% and 100%. This was too severe for an immediate stent procedure and the cardiologists recommended he be evaluated for triple bypass surgery.
Further testing began to assess the quality of his heart muscle and determine if it would be able to receive blood flow from the bypassed arteries. Once again we had more bad news. It seems that somewhere along the way Steve has had one, and possible two, heart attacks. He has never experienced anything that gave him pause for concern in this regard so it was a real surprise.
Tests also revealed that the artery that delivers blood to the apex of the heart was the one that was 100% blocked and the part of the heart muscle it feeds was shown on MRI to be essentially “dead”. On the up side, the areas of the heart muscle fed by the other two partially blocked arteries appear to be healthier and medically viable, meaning that they will benefit from improved blood flow.
Further, it was determined that the ability for Steve’s heart to pump blood out to his body effectively was only 20%. A healthy heart is 60-80%. Because of this the cardiology bypass team determined that Steve is not a candidate for bypass surgery. So there’s that.
At the end of the day the decision has been made to move forward the doctors recommendations for a “high risk” stent procedure to re-establish blood flow to the heart muscle as much as possible. Though Steve’s heart will always be less strong, this procedure to revascularise the heart, along with medication is promising. We both feel good about it and are hopeful that he will be able to return to his life, with some lifestyle changes of course.
The PCI (stent) procedure is scheduled for this Wednesday at some time as yet to be determined. Amazingly, they tell us it should only take 60-90 minutes.
Steve is doing great. 😀 He says he feels well and strong and is still managing to keep his step counters up around 4,000 steps a day by crawling the hallways. He says the worst part of it all is the ghastly boredom, but it is an opportunity to learn to slow down a bit and relax. Slowing down his high-octane pace may be the biggest challenge we face!
Thanks to everyone for their kindness, their love and their support.