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Athlete w Concerns One Year Post-Heart Attack/Stent

  • 1.  Athlete w Concerns One Year Post-Heart Attack/Stent

    Posted 06-06-2020 15:11
    New member and first post on the forum.  Apologies in advance for the long background to my question. In April 2019, I had a moderate to severe heart attack at age 50 while surfing.  Other than high cholesterol, I had no co-risk factors and I was very fit, exercising strenuously 6 of 7 days a week, mountain biking, surfing, windsurfing, running, swimming.  I had zero detectable symptoms before the attack occurred.  Single stent was placed in a fully blocked coronary artery (LAD), one stent but two branches, and I have residual scar tissue from the attack.  Returned to pre-attack sports activities after 30-60 days, hard activity around 90 days, and also continued monitored cardio rehab for a full year, 2x per week, with all diagnostics good throughout.  Was feeling stronger than ever.  Off all meds except blood thinner (prasugrel) and aspirin.  At 8 months-post (Dec. 2019, pre-Covid), I began to experience a new feeling of mild congestion/mild cough after a few successive days of hard exercise, most pronounced after an upper body workout.  Never felt poorly while exercising, only later in the evening, or the next day.  No shortness of breath, no chest pain, just this mild congestion at the back of the throat/top of the chest.  This condition is now becoming present more often.  I have seen the cardiologist twice for this, plus one ER trip.  No heart attack per enzymes, chest xray clear, echo good, stress test good, good ejection fraction, blood pressure fine, pulse rate low, etc.  Cardiologist says to continue with what I am doing, that I am not damaging the heart, and that this might be residual inflammation (although it would be unusual this long post-attack).  No real diagnosis and no treatment.

    If anyone has experienced a similar symptom during their recovery, and has any thoughts to share, it would be appreciated.  Other than continuing to watch this and returning to the doctor if it changes in frequency, nature, or intensity, I have nothing to work with.  Thanks.


  • 2.  RE: Athlete w Concerns One Year Post-Heart Attack/Stent

    Posted 06-07-2020 06:18

    I've never had a stent or any if your symptoms, and I am not a physician, but have you had a complete blood count recently to check for the presence of elevated white blood cells or any other possible signs of infection?  I've read that people with stents have a higher risk of respiratory infections, which might be consistent with your congestion/cough.

    Also, out of curiosity, you stated that you are taking only aspirin and a blood thinner.  No statin prescribed when your only pre-heart attack risk factor was high cholesterol?

    Best regards,


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ

  • 3.  RE: Athlete w Concerns One Year Post-Heart Attack/Stent

    Posted 06-07-2020 10:59
    Chris, I have used Dr. Dean Ornish's program for 20+ years. I have several heart issues. The item I see missing from your routine is relaxation. You are working out and eating right. Were you given any reason for your heart attack? Plague build up or blood clot? Something plugged the artery to cause your heart attack. Dr. Ornish says that stress can cause narrowing of the arteries and can cause a heart attack, especially if other cardiac risk conditions are present. He recommends relaxation through yoga or techniques to relax your mind and body. In your case, you seem to be putting a lot of stress on yourself to stay physically fit. You may benefit by adding a yoga class to your exercise routine.

    George Howard
    Hurst TX
    (817) 282-2403

  • 4.  RE: Athlete w Concerns One Year Post-Heart Attack/Stent

    Posted 06-07-2020 15:37
    Hello Chris,
    George has a point about resting. You stated you have some scarring from the heart attack. Any amount of damage to the heart reduces the heart's ability to recover from exercise. 
    Another possibility is you may be developing late-onset allergies. This is can happen to anyone as we get older. My allergies have become worse as I have aged. Things that never bothered me when in my 30 now cause itching eyes runny nose and mild coughing. 
    Ask your provider if a mild allergy med from over the counter might be worth a try. If it helps great and if not, stop using it. It could be something just that simple.
    Good Luck,
    Richard Short
    Chapter 395

  • 5.  RE: Athlete w Concerns One Year Post-Heart Attack/Stent

    Posted 06-07-2020 17:45
    Good afternoon from Kansas Chris!

    Welcome to the MH network and I'm sorry to hear of your concerns. Though I'm a few years older than you we have very similar stories. Athletic, one year post-op, trying to return to "normal" life and exercise. We even have similar artery issues with our LAD, though mine required a double bypass to correct a congenital heart defect. I even had some trouble with respiratory issues for a few months after my surgery. I just now feel like my lungs are clearing, especially during running.

    It sounds like you are doing all the right things, but like the other's who have responded, perhaps you are pushing things a little too hard with your workouts. As an athlete myself, dialing it back has been a struggle. Still trying to find my pre-op mojo, but the zipper on my chest is a constant reminder to take it slow. I've pushed it recently and I'm paying the price with AFib and sleeplessness.

    Follow the advice of your cardiologist and give yourself some time. God knows your heart has been through some trauma and may just need a little more time, maybe more than you realize. By the way, there are sports cardiologist who specialize in patients that fit your profile. I'm now under the care of one in Kansas City and feel like I'm in good hands. I still see my local cardiologist, but the guys in K.C. specializes in cases like ours (athletes). Something you may want to consider.

    Reach out if you need someone to talk with.

    Barry Weis

    Barry Weis
    Salina KS