In the fall of 2009, I was suddenly struck with an unknown debilitating heart problem. It came on suddenly one day as I was taking a brisk autumn walk. I had been working my way up to a mile a day and felt pretty good about my abilities to overcome my asthma enough to keep up with the daily pace outdoors. As an asthmatic for quite a few years, I was familiar with the problems of walking outdoors. Excessive heat or humidity, mold spores, seasonal allergies, excessive cold and polluted air could cause problems for me while walking. On this particular day the weather was fair and a little cooler than normal, but it did not seem to be overly problematic.
The problem started when I went for my walk without taking my inhaler beforehand. When I got back to the house, I took the inhaler right away, but I could feel the heaviness start to set in. This time, I also started having pain radiate down my left arm that stayed even after I had taken my inhaler. I decided I would rest and see if that would make the pain subside. But even after 15-20 minutes of rest, the pain was still there. I decided I had better go to the ER to get checked out. At the ER, the doctors checked my asthma and my lungs seemed fine. They proceeded to check my heart and opted to keep me overnight for observation and testing. Finally, the Nitroglycerin they gave me began to relieve some of the pain. After my stress test was analyzed the next day, the doctor informed me that I would need an angiogram and probably a stent placed in my arteries to stave off a heart attack through an angioplasty procedure.
I went home to ponder all of this news and prepare for the procedure. The following day I went to shower to ready myself for the day, but found myself extremely lightheaded and suffering from increased chest pain. I was yet again rushed into another regional hospital that specialized in heart issues. However, they too offered no concrete answers.
After a few more consultations and a few more ER visits, there was still no diagnosis. I always went home with fewer answers than I had before and more symptoms. I went from being an active 47 year old woman, to a woman who wasn’t able to walk more than 100 feet without being out of breath seemingly overnight. When I went to sleep at night I felt like I was drowning. I could not sleep except sitting up. The doctors call this Dyspnea. As time wore on I got lots of terms for symptoms, but still no answers. At home, I used Cayenne Pepper to help me breathe and help ward off intense chest pain. Cayenne Pepper is known to stave off heart attacks and does help open blood vessels. This went on for months will no relief of substance. Finally, an inner whisper told me to seek out my cardiologist from years before. He had relocated out of the area but I finally tracked him down. He had left the state but finally did return and was an hour away and would be glad to consult with me. I set the appointment praying for an answer.
After an examination and his consultation with another physician, he asked me if I was in menopause, to which I responded yes. He left the room and came back and advised me that he believed I had Micro-Vascular Disease. It is similar to CAD( Coronary Artery Disease) except it affects the smaller vessels and is more common in women, especially menopausal women. He gave me a prescription for Ranexa and told me to try it. I was amazed! I could finally walk and breathe and the chest pain (Angina) finally subsided.