So I have come to the end of insurance for now and at the end of my endless naturopath appointments, until November. My official diagnosis is: early developing cardiomyopathy that is hypertrophic (which means the heart walls are thickening).
My doctor feels confident that we can get rid of my heart murmur and get my ejection fraction back to normal. He has come up with a fitness and supplement plan for me to follow and here it is in a nutshell:
13 Supplements 2 times Daily
The supplements range from the expected Omega 3 (with EPA DHA) and CoQ10 (with ubiquinol) to less common things like Hawthorne Berry and Kelp. I am hesitant to put the full list and dosages here because I don’t want to lead someone astray and have them ignore going to a doctor if they have heart problems and just take these supplements without making sure it’s safe for them. Also if you are already taking prescription medication for anything particularly your heart research these supplements before taking them. Some interact really badly with things like Beta blockers and other pills prescribed for the heart.
I am NOT a doctor and I highly recommend going to a Dr. to get your own baseline and the appropriate tests to see what you specifically need. What I will say, is that this book The Sinatra Solution contains the base supplements of what I am taking, with detailed reasons why they are recommended (pages 181-184). Sinatra’s list contains a Multivitamin with fish oil, CoQ10, L-carnitine, D-ribose, Magnesium and Hawthorne. I am taking all that, plus 7 others. I will be taking these for the next 6 months (November 2012) and then getting an echocardiogram to see if there is improvement.
Bonus News ! On my very last visit. I found out that my naturopath is getting their own echocardiogram machine so that I don’t have to go to a hospital and pay $1800 out-of-pocket it will be more like $500, which is a vast improvement in cost and takes a huge weight off my shoulders about how I was going to afford that test and ultimately see if I was getting better.
It sucks taking all those vitamins, but if they do what they claim to do I will be a fricken superhero at the end of this.
Cardio Rehab: Slow and Steady Wins the Race
The other major thing my Dr is having me do for the next 6 months is cardiac rehabilitation. So the fitness plan is on alternating days, do interval training to get my heart up to 150 and then down to 10% above resting for 5 reps. Then on the other day 30 minutes of cardio and not getting my heart above 150 beats. When it does that, I have to slow down.
Since I have to track my heart closely and not got above 150 when I exercise, I purchased a heart monitor watch with chest strap. I got the Polar FT4 watch which I really like. You wear a chest strap (not as bad as it sounds, or at least how it sounded to me) that sends a constant signal to the watch and pings you when it rise or declines too much. It works great, as long as you don’t get the strap too wet before use (if you do that it has a hard time making the connection and tracking your heartbeat). I also had it calibrated with my doctors monitors and it was right on.
For the interval training I am doing marching in place and then measuring how long it takes me to get back to just above resting. For the cardio part I am still not doing Jazzercise, which sucks. The classes are too long and I would have to stop too much to let my heart slow down which would really suck the fun out of it. Maybe when I get my fitness level back up I will be able to return to that. Dave bought Active2 for the Wii and it’s awesome. You can put together step classes of whatever length you want and it even measures and displays your heart rate on the screen so I can can see when I need to slow down. I tested against my already calibrated watch monitor and it was right on. I am also trying to swim and walk and just not overdo it. On my last visit my doctor said “you look like the kind of person that will push it too far” and I said he must have met my father. I promised I would be good and not strain my heart…..saying “cross my heart and hope to die” seemed not so funny so I didn’t say that.
The naturopath I am seeing is Dr. Martin Milner at the Center for Natural Medicine in Portland Oregon. He is one of the few naturopaths specializing in hearts and I am lucky he is so local to me. He also trains other naturopaths in Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Medicine at the National College of Natural Medicine(NCNM) . Because he is training students you can see them instead of him which is quite a bit cheaper than his rates and he does oversee the visits. I was lucky because my alternative health benefit with my insurance helped to partially cover the visits. So you might check with your health plan to see if yours covers alternative care. What I will say about this doctor and the process is that unlike a cardiologist where they see to run your through the jiffy lube of tests and instantly prescribe you pills, this process took 6 visits and two months. For a person not blessed with tons of patience, I will tell you I got very frustrated with how long it took to find out what I needed to do. It’s a different process.
About Doctors, of Any Kind for Any Reason
With any doctor you MUST be your own advocate. Any doctor whether it’s a cardiologist or naturopath is giving you their best advice from the research and experience they have had. They are giving you their best educated guess and it may or may not be fine tuned to you and your needs specifically. That is how I got on this who naturopath journey in the first place, since I didn’t feel like the cardiologist was taking who I was into the calculation of coming up with a care plan. I totally understand that it’s a pain to get second opinions and ask questions, but it’s your life and your body. If you have concerns or questions write them down before your appointments and make sure you ask them. Don’t let ANY doctors bulldoze you with their busy attitudes and air of authority. Realize that it is their job to behave confidently to make you feel like they know what they are doing. But the truth is, they DON’T know everything and you have every right and really an obligation to yourself to ask questions and even re-ask them if the answers they give don’t make sense to you. It’s your body and you are paying them for expert advice, but you can’t assume that they will explain each and every thing to you or that they know what your knowledge base is. And read books, lots of them on your particular health issue. What you will find is some similarities in advice and some differences. You have to take all of that into account and decide what you are most comfortable with. OK enough of that soapbox.
So the upshot with all of this, is that I now have a plan…at least for the next 6 months. I feel much better about the whole thing too, which is good. I still don’t feel sick, which is also a good thing and it’s going to stay that way. Now it is up to me to maintain what the doctor has recommended and get this heart healed.
I will be sure to update the blog along the way but specifically when I get to my six month mark.
If you are interested in specifically what products I am using, this link goes to a page on my website that lists them. Disclaimer: I do get paid if you purchase items through those links, but I really appreciate if you do.