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To ask how do you know if you have heart disease or hardened arteries before it's too late? ANXIETY

(13 Posts)
anxietygurl Tue 13-Mar-18 15:48:46

I do have some problems with health anxiety but that hasn't actually been a problem for a while.

However today I have a nagging, uneasy worry that my heart isn't healthy or my arteries are blocked. I've been running over the last few months and last week got chest pain. Anyway I googled, and although I'm not worrying about some specific disease I feel uneasy.

How can you know your heart health is ok? Because all the symptoms seem to be for people who have quite advanced disease?

I've had to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours before, I guess that just monitors the speed and steadyness of the heartbeat though not if my arteries are furred up or not. I had been having palpitations without feeling anxious at the time, if that makes sense, so the doctor thought it made sense to check it out but results seemed ok.

My cholesterol is over 5 and I'm diabetic. So in high risk group. I still get random bursts of palpitations all the time, but have put it down to low blood pressure because often see stars when I get up and am prone to dizzyness.

Should i be worried, or is this my anxiety talking? How would I know if it's legitimate to worry about this? Am I being silly?

carryondoctor Tue 13-Mar-18 15:51:53

I went for a heart scan with high cholesterol - they were looking for a calcium score as the first indicator. Could you ask about that?

(Mine was zero despite cholesterol of over 6 - it's now "down" to 5.4!)

anxietygurl Tue 13-Mar-18 15:54:19

Thanks, Carryondoctor (appropriate name grin )

I guess I could ask but nobody has ever mentioned it, was there a reason you had to have it done - did you go privately for the scan to put your own mind at rest? Or did your doc think it wise?

Glad you were fine!!

anxietygurl Tue 13-Mar-18 15:56:11

I wish there was a simple blood test. Ho hum. Can't see any NHS doctor suggesting an expensive scan for my heart, they will just insist it's health anxiety.

Which of course I hope is correct because the idea of something wrong with my heart is so scary!

carryondoctor Tue 13-Mar-18 15:58:15

The GP sent me because of the cholesterol reading.

(As an aside, I said I am breastfeeding and google says that can raise cholesterol; he said it couldn't and sent me anyway. The consultant who reviewed the scan confirmed that it can indeed!!)

Not sure how much it would cost privately but would that be an option? I can assure you it really did put my mind at rest after being told my cholesterol was so high.

carryondoctor Tue 13-Mar-18 15:59:01

This one's in london I think - £300:

LoverOfCake Tue 13-Mar-18 16:03:44

I have many, many, many things wrong with my heart, none of which involve hardened arteries.

TBH if you’re having palpitations you should go and be checked. They can do a 24 hour ECG where you’ll have a monitor strapped to your chest and you can press a button every time you have an episode, plus you keep a diary etc.

How low is your blood pressure. Typically if you get up your BP will drop slightly anyway, so if you have low BP already then it’s likely to drop some more. One of the best ways around this can be to sit up very straight before getting up and then get up slowly. Can you drink tea? Tea will aid your BP slightly but not dangerously iyswim.

But it’s worth noting that if you are generally anxious then that will produce adrenaline which will increase your heart rate. Do you only get palpitations when you’re anxious or at other times?

CPtart Tue 13-Mar-18 16:09:17

Diabetes increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. I was told at my last update by up to five times a second a man, and seven times as a woman. Your cholesterol, BP etc should all be lower than a non-diabetic to reduce that risk. Generally a cholesterol level of around 4 is aimed for. How is your diabetic control? What is your BP and when was your last Hba1c? These should be checked 6 monthly ideally.
Make sure you're up to date with all these tests and then make a follow up with your GP to discuss your symptoms.

anxietygurl Tue 13-Mar-18 16:09:27

Yes, I have worn a 24 hour monitor and nothing was wrong.

My blood pressure is always on the low side when tested so all gps think that because it's naturally on the low side, it drops even lower at some other times like first thing in morning, as you say.

I drink a litre of water first thing which helps. Then tea smile

I rarely get palpitations when having anxious thoughts at all. Only if I got a fright and then started feeling scared about something - like last week I jumped out of my skin when my phone rang because I was waiting for very stressful news. Usually the palpitations happen kind of randomly when I'm totally engrossed in something and feeling fine, and they surprise me as they seem to come out of nowhere!

anxietygurl Tue 13-Mar-18 16:14:18

I know diabetes increases risk, that's partly why I worry, and why I find it very hard to dismiss the worry as 'only' anxiety.

Yes a1c is checked regularly, as is blood pressure, as is cholesterol. Cholesterol is always too high.

Last year, I got a letter with my cholesterol result with an equation working out the good and bad cholesterol saying I was not very high risk. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I know my good one should be higher.

ivykaty44 Tue 13-Mar-18 16:20:21

Keep exercising ( as long as it’s ok with go) plenty of vegetables and pulses to reduce cholesterol

The more regular exercise you get the stronger your heart will be and your arteries

As a diabetic you would be avoiding sugar foods like cakes and sweets anyway

Checklist Tue 13-Mar-18 16:21:21

Dh was diagnosed recently with 90% blockage of the Left Anterior Descending (artery) and 60% blockage of two of the others. He has genetically high cholesterol; and his father had his first heart attack in his 40s. DH's main symptoms were breathlessness, even when sitting down, and fainting when he had to stand up on trains. He did in the last few months complain of chest pain, when stressed.

He has always had fairly low blood pressure, and GPs seemed to consider that indicated there were no problems with his heart; until he went and said he felt like he was dying of heart failure. They sent him for ECGs, and a computerised angiogram (angiograph ?) - which indicated blockages of 50 - 75% iirc. They then did an invasive angiogram and put in a stent, when they realised the extent of the blockage in the LAD.

Fairylea Tue 13-Mar-18 16:28:32

I have huge heart anxiety - I started to have really bad palpitations and chest pains last year and it really gave me a huge, huge phobia of heart problems. I’ve had all kinds of tests - several ecgs, heart monitors, cholesterol tests (mine is 4.7), etc etc. All came back completely normal. I was diagnosed with asthma, anaemia and Addison’s disease- all of which are treatable and explains the chest pains etc. But I still have terrible anxiety related to my heart - which I know is crazy but I just want you to know you’re not alone!

I have started running recently as a way to deal with my anxiety - I feel if I can run and improve my fitness I can prove to myself there isn’t mucb wrong with me.

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