My cardiologist called me this week. “Why is Dr. P calling me?,” I wondered, “why is she calling me?” “Your CAT angiogram came back and you know that plaque build up that I thought I saw on your Stress Test a few weeks ago…well, it showed up on the CAT Scan…you have about a 30-40 percent build up of plaque in one of your arteries.”
“OMG…OMG…what am I going to do?,” I don’t want to have a heart attack at 50 years old. I thought I was in great shape. I do my weight circuit at the gym and I go on the treadmill too (well, most of the time I go on the treadmill at least 20 -30 minutes…but I walk…I don’t run). I watch my diet most of the time (okay, I do cheat sometimes. I do enjoy my desserts…pies are my favorite, especially strawberry rhubarb pie and what is a pie without the fattening crust. I like a juicy burger occasionally too. Will I have to become a vegan now?). And I’m doing yoga now too, to help me de-stress.
As my mind calmed down, I sat back and listened to what Dr. P had to say.
“It’s nothing to worry about right now. We usually don’t do anything unless the build up is close to 70 percent,” said Dr. P. “You can always do a catherization to really check how bad it is, but I wouldn’t advise it right now. Keep up with your cholesterol medication, keep exercising, and see me in four to six months.”
“Great,” I thought, “now what do I do…I worry.” Am I a walking time bomb? Is one of the arteries leading to my heart ticking away? I really better watch my diet now. I better start exercising more. But how do I do this?
Should I stop sleeping so I have more time to exercise? No. Should I stop eating so I have more time to exercise? No. Should I stop blogging so I have more time to exercise? Absolutely not. My smart friend who counsels patients on ways to improve their health says I should do more cardio exercise to help get rid of the plaque. That sounds like a good idea.
So…tonight, I went to the gym at the hotel I am staying at. I went straight to the treadmill and I pushed the button to ‘cardio’ workout. I was ready to build up a sweat.
“I can do this,” I said to myself as the elevation started to rise.
“Yes, I can do this,” I told myself as the elevation continued to rise even more.
“I think I can…I think I can do this,” I cried as the elevation seemed to be rising as high as Mt. Everest…or at least it felt that high to my 50 year old knees as I tried to keep pace.
“Nope, this isn’t going to work,” I thought as my feet started sliding backwards instead of forwards. “Nope, this cardio workout is not for me.”
I tried to push the button to change the workout back to my cardio lite pace…but the button got stuck. I pushed and pushed until finally the treadmill slowed down. If it didn’t slow down I decided I would just jump off…I would just jump off that cardio treadmill. Thankfully, after the third try the incline went back to zero…and I went back to finishing my 30 minute walk.
No, I don’t think these cardio workouts are going to work for me. I’ll have to get rid of my plaque another way. Maybe I should read the book I saw mentioned in a recent Seniors Resource Guide called “The Heart Repair Manual:The Philadelphia Formula for Preventing and Reversing Atherosclerosis” written by Dr. Nicholas L. DePace.
Dr. DePace says that “Running for one hour or more per week, is an extremely good level of intensity to get a cardio-protective effect. If one rows one hour per week, takes brisk walks for 30 minutes a day, or lifts weights for 30 minutes or more a week, they can reduce their risk of heart disease by about 20 percent, which is still significant, although not as much as the more active running program.”
I will keep up my yoga so I can handle my stress better. I will keep eating my lowfat Activa yogurt so my digestive system stays healthy. I will keep up my strength training so my muscles stay strong. I will promise to take my cholesterol medication every day. But, the cardio workouts will have to wait for a while. My knees need some tender loving care before I start running again.