It started off with the nurse asking me a few questions and giving me an EKG (Electrocardiogram). When the doctor came in she said the EKG looked good, she gave me a mini physical and said everything in my heart sounded good.
I explained to her the reason I was there and she started asking me some basic heart-related quesitons:
– Do you have shortness of breath?
Yes, I do at times. If my CFS is flaring, I have extreme shortness of breath.
– Can you exercise, climb a flight or stairs? How about two flights of stairs?
Due to the CFS, I have trouble exercising on a regular basis. What happens is I will start off slow, like 5 minutes a day on the treadmill, then over several weeks build myself up to 20 – 30 minutes on the treadmill. Then I will have a CFS flare and I have to start all over again.
– By looking at your lab results you had done in March, your cholesterol is high. Family history of high cholesterol?
Yes, both mother and father.
– Well, you need to exercise at your maximum target heart rate in order to bring your cholesterol down and to lose weight. You are very overweight. (like she had to tell me that!)
Yes, I realize that but when I try to exercise, I end up having a CFS flare, meaning I physically cannot take care of myself & my family, let alone exercise.
– Do your legs and/or ankles swell?
No, not usually. I did have one episode a few years ago where my legs and ankles were severely swollen and this was during my bedridden CFS flare. I didn’t go to the ER though like the doctor suggested.
– Do you have chest pain?
Sometimes but I don’t know whether it is really “chest pain” or “Fibro pain”. I do notice after exertion or the following day I will have chest pain.
– Is there just pain or is there pressure too?
– Is there a family history of heart disease in young members?
Yes, my grandfather died in his early 20s and my uncle died in his early 20s from heart problems.
Doctor, I was reading from the research I did that there is a 24-hour holter monitoring that can be done to find out if there is heart problems in CFS patients. According to the researchers, the heart problems cannot be found with typical testing.
– From what I can tell right now, your heart sounds good – no murmurs, palpitations, etc. But with the fact that you had two family members die at a young age from heart disease, I think we should run some tests. Also, with the fact that you are overweight and are already having high cholesterol at a young age a typical screening wouldn’t hurt. Let’s set you up for a nuclear stress test and a echocardiogram sonogram of the heart). Over the next three months, I want you to exercise, change your diet and get your cholesterol down. If we are going to run all of these other tests on your heart, I want you to promise me that you are going to work hard at getting your cholesterol down.
We will redo your blood work before you come back to see me in October and if your cholesterol isn’t down by then, I will have to put you on medication.
So, you aren’t going to do the holter monitoring?
Let’s run these basic screenings first.
And folks, that was it!