My Heart Attack – Part 3

Heart Attack

Well my life had certainly changed and not for the better at this point. I had come home from the hospital and survived the Heart Attack, but I had no clue as to how things were going to progress now.

I just barely could make myself something to eat. And while doing that I found that I would have to sit down a few times and rest. Talk about a shock to myself – it was even worst when I found that I had to sit down 3 times when doing a simple task as washing the dishes. Forget trying to clean the house with sweeping or mopping the floor that was not even possible right now.

I was not completely sure if this was just because I had been in the bed for a week along with the heart attack or if it was a lot due to the fact that I had a heart attack. Whatever the reason, it was really different and something I had to adjust to quickly.

I was also finding it very difficult to sleep.

I could not lay down at all. I found that I had to sit upright as if in a chair in order to sleep at all and that was on and off throughout the night. I can tell you that it was miserable and not something I would wish to repeat anytime soon.

This lack of being able to sleep and being really weak was on-going for the first month after coming home, I struggled to just live and function at even the most basic level.

I just hoped that it would improve and I could begin to live again.

 

There was a whole range of Heart Attack Medications that they had given me and they too were presenting me with some challenges in how I was affected daily.

Here is the list of what they had me taking each day:

Plavix – this is an anti-platelet drug that was supposed to help my stint from becoming clogged back up – kind of important.

Asprin – a low dose 300mg one that was to thin my blood and help keep it flowing.

Lisinopril -  an ACE inhibitor to lower my blood pressure and open the blood vessels

Furosemide – a diuretic to remove water from around my lungs and abdomen

Klor-con – a potassium chloride extended release capsule to replenish what the diuretic would leach out of my body.

Metoprolol Tartrate – A beta-blocker to help reduce the workload on my heart and help it beat more regularly.

Lovastatin – A HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor ( statin ) that was to help lower my cholesterol in the blood.

Carevedilol – another beta-blocker to reduce the workload on my heart

Nitroglycerin – to relieve any chest pain that I might have and open my blood vessels – to be taken only as needed.

 Boy what a list of drugs. And this was something very much outside of my experience.

I have been fortunate, until now, that I have been healthy and only very occasionally had needed to take any meds at all. Mostly an antibiotic for an infection or such.

Here I was, 60 years old and was now faced with the daunting prospect of having to take a long list of drugs when I had never needed to do so before. I really was up in the air over all of it, especially after reading up on the drugs and their side effects! It actually was frightening to me.

And to make matters even worse, my body was NOT at all happy with these drugs. I was having a very, very difficult time and felt absolutely terrible. After just a few days, I made a decision for myself that I was NOT going to take these medication with the exception of the Plavix which I felt was likely needed and there was nothing else I could find that would do the same thing to replace it.

Part of the problem with all these meds was that several of them were to lower blood pressure. Well, my blood pressure had never been high even to start with. I had always been around 120 / 70 give or take and not needed any meds like so many others my age.

Well after my heart attack, my pressure went down even more. I think that was a good thing as it allowed the heart to not have to work as hard and I am sure some of it was due to the damage my heart sustained. It simply was not as strong as it was before.

Now, my BP was running about 95/ 65 – again give or take. And this was BEFORE any of the meds. I seemed to be able to tolerate the Plavix ok, as my BP did not change much. But it was a very different story with the other ones that lowered BP.

I found that each of them would lower my BP about 10 points – well that simply did not work at all. I stopped taking them right away as I could not stand up even very slowly without having to grab the arm of the chair and hold on for 2 minuets until I was not dizzy and could walk.

I felt that it did not really matter if these "drugs" were supposed to be helpful – I could not function when taking them.

So, despite my cardiologist instance, I stopped them. It really was first because of the BP problem, but as I researched them more and more, I came to the conclusion that the potential side effects were not worth it for me when weighed against the supposed benefit. And the benefits in my mind were very uncertain.

I was finding a lot of opposing opinions as to whether or not these drugs made any real difference for a lot of people and the very real fact that there WAS DAMAGE to the body especially when taking them long term. Damage that the medical community paid little attention to as I talked to my cardiologist about that and got the standard – well the studies show that there are so much % better change etc. – and though this may be true, I was not very convinced that the "studies" were all that accurate.

The studies for all of these drugs were done by the manufactures of the drug itself. So, there was no independent analysis or comparison made ever. I was not completely confident that the drug company funded studies did not weigh the results in a more positive direction – after all, their continued funding of the drug effects depended on showing a benefit over a negative reaction. The drug company is not going to continue funding the researcher if all their results are contrary to what they want now are they?

Next what bothered me was when I was looking at the admitted and reported side effects of the drugs. The list was frightening as to the possible consequences, and you would not necessarily have to be on the drug for a long period of time to get the bad reaction.

This was crazy to me, I felt as if the possible harm was worst than what I was trying to prevent.

My feelings proved to be accurate as I did have a number of side effects on the Plavix that I had to deal with let alone if I was on everything else.

I talked to my cardiologist about that and was floored when what I was telling them was dismissed out of hand as not possible. They had many patients on the drug and no one was having any problems, so I was mistaken in feeling that what was going on with me was because of the Plavix.

REALLY? I was supposed to believe that none of the other patients had any sort of difficulty or problem or any side effect from the Plavix? Of course, doctor, that must be the case since you told me so. As if!

What I was experienceing with the Plavix Side Effects was a long list:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint Pain
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Lack of appetite
  • Trouble breathing at night
  • Depression
  • Coughing
  • Lack of any energy
  • Lack of motivation to do anything

On top of all these, I discovered that Plavix can actually cause "bronchitis" – well how about that one. And a month or so after I came home, I went back to the emergency room because I could not breathe and they diagnosed me with an acute case of "bronchitis" – gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and sent me home.

Well, I had to put up with these side effects like it or not as I knew that this one drug was likely needed. I could not find much information saying that it did not do what it said, but in truth there were no long term studies actually done. I wondered about that as Plavix is one of the most prescribed drugs that there are.

Oh, and one other little item. Plavix is EXPENSIVE! My prescription for 30 pills for just a single month was over $180.00!  I could not believe it. And there was no generic form available. There is a story there too.

Seems as if not too long after Plavix came to market, a generic was produced and it cost about 1/3 or less. There was a few reports of negative reactions and the pharmaceutical industry took that and ran with it going to congress and loudly pointing out that it was a problem and visiting the doctors and making sure they had heard of the negative reports. Of course, they forgot to mention that Plavix itself had even more reports of problems by far, but that was not important for the doctors or congress to know.

The result was that they convinced congress to ban the generic in this country and it has been so ever since. The generic is available in other countries, such as Canada, but not here.

And currently, the industry is working on a bill that will ban any possibility of you purchasing any drug and sending it across the boarder to be delivered to you.

This would then allow the drug companys to completely control your access to all medications and they can and would charge whatever they wanted as they do with the Plavix. You would not be able to get it from Canada or Mexico and save the huge difference for the very same drug.

I had no idea that this type of situation existed as I had never before been faced with having to have a drug that cost so much for a month. I was very fortunate to have insurance that covered that cost as there was no possible way that I could have done so otherwise.

But what about those who’s insurance covers only a part of the cost or someone who does not have insurance at all – what are they supposed to do? That was a question that I had no answer to.

 

End of My Heart Attack – Part 3

Dr. Josling's Allicin Center

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