12 March 2011


A few years ago I started having occasional near-fainting spells. Trying to find the cause I went to a general doctor, a pulmonologist, and two cardiologists.

As part of the investigation process, my recent cardiologist suggested I have an angiogram -- where dye is injected into the blood stream and x-rays are taken of the arteries surrounding the heart. This is usually done when a person has some symptoms of heart disease -- like pain in the chest, or trouble breathing. My doctor thought a recent stress test showed some blockage and hoped the angiogram would find it.

I had my angiogram yesterday. It was a fascinating, if painful, experience. It showed that I have no blockage in any of my arteries; they are all open and totally clear. This is a relief; but it adds to the frustration that we have still not found the cause of my near-faints.

A couple weeks before the angiogram I observed an interesting irony: I am a few years away from the age my father was when he was diagnosed with really bad heart disease -- so bad they could not operate on his heart. They gave him medication to seriously thin his blood. It worked pretty well, considering how he lived another 15 years. Of course, for most of his life, my father smoked like a chimney, drank like a fish and never ate very healthily; so heart disease was not much of a surprise. I have never smoked, used alcohol or any illegal drugs and usually always ate pretty healthily -- and made major changes to my diet in 2002 to lose some weight and make sure I stayed healthy.

I don't know where this puts me when compared with the rest of the population; but I am relieved to be nearing 52 years of age with no blocked arteries, normal blood pressure (without drugs) and a basically healthy body (aside from allergies, back problems, and the usual aches and pains of getting older).

As for my near fainting spells: we think it has to do with my blood pressure plummeting after eating. Blood pressure usually goes down after eating, but mine goes down way too much. So, we're isolating the problem, but don't yet know the cause. Any ideas?

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