I was a regular 21 year old until I had a heart attack out of what seemed like nowhere, only to find out i was born with 2 heart defects that had never shown up before. My heart attack and aneurism lasted 8 hours until i was flown into a hospital that could provide an open heart operation to fix the problem. This was two weeks ago today and I am currently in better than health than I have ever been in my life. i was born with what they call a bicuspid aortic valve, explained here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicuspid_aortic_valve. What caused the heart attack was a dissecting aortic aneurism. I also have a coarctation in my artery, which has gone un-fixed. They are still determining whether or not to put in a stent in two months to fix this problem. I had a second operation last week to put in a drain to drain the fluid collecting around my heart and I will include a photo of the drain. I also will include a photo of my leg, where a vein was removed for my bypass.

The best proof I have is my scars and photos from being in the hospital(I am still very swollen, so don't judge my belly haha): http://i.imgur.com/7tk5qhE.jpg http://i.imgur.com/zkMFIPD.jpg http://i.imgur.com/iL3DCrk.jpg http://i.imgur.com/i3aNfSh.jpg http://i.imgur.com/uj7jg9H.jpg http://i.imgur.com/6iEQSht.jpg not pictured is two incisions in my groin

edit: i am doing my best to reply to all of you but it is hard! hang in there i'm trying to get to you!

Comments: 1076 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

LiquidSwords89517 karma

as a 24 year old this scares this shit out of me

heartattackama261 karma

i encourage you to get your heart checked. it can be expensive but can save your life. the mortality level of my problem is very high and i am so lucky to have survived. most people die on the way to the hospital or in surgery. i encourage you and everyone to check their hearts.

EPM500064 karma

This comment may never see the light of day, but as a 27 year old RN who works on a cardiac unit, I need to express that your story is incredible. My unit specializes in open heart patients. The floor is generally filled with patients 65 and above, but from time to time we get that one "young" patient. It's a crazy thing seeing someone so young - mid chest incision, lower leg harvest site, chest tubes draining, pacer wires, Foley catheter, central line going.. Anywho, I always wonder what becomes of them after they leave our floor and how they resume their life. Your AMA has given me some insight into that. Thank you, and keep using your incentive spirometer.

heartattackama29 karma

that's exactly how the floor of the hospital where i stayed was like. you guys are really responsible for my strength in this situation, you guys save lives. you really do. i'm crying right now haha but seriously, if it weren't for rn's like you, i never would have been able to do so well in this situation. keep doing what you're doing! you are doing incredible things. i was constantly being noticed for my age and all the nurses wanted to know my story, i felt like a celebrity in the hospital hahaha. they said usually when they notice a "young" person, it's someone about the age of 40 haha. in any case, i really owe all my strength to people like you.

WipeDown6 karma


heartattackama11 karma

the best way to explain it is that it felt like an elephant was standing on my chest

spanish-mystic3 karma

would a heart x-ray show something like this?

heartattackama14 karma

i think it has to be a ct scan that involves injecting dye into your system, or at least that is how they found out what was going on with me. they did heart xrays on me after the surgery but i think that was to measure the coagulation of fluid around my heart and lungs, if i'm not mistaken. i could be wrong. honestly, ask a doctor!

SometimesMonkey246 karma

I went through a heart attack at 27, despite being in perfect health. I just want to wish you a speedy recovery.

Also, and I wish someone had stressed this to me: cardiac rehab is very important. If you want your numbers to improve during recovery (EF, oxygen output, etc.) do cardiac rehab very seriously.

It may feel light and kind of like a joke. But it helps a lot.

Good luck.

heartattackama8 karma

i'm really excited to start cardiac rehab actually! and thank you for the well wishes, i'm glad you're doing well!

Ruskoh86 karma


heartattackama219 karma

you also get this overwhelming feeling of impending doom, like you know that you are dying for some reason.

heartattackama102 karma

sort of like there is an elephant sitting on your chest. my arms were restless and hurt when i stopped moving them. i had paint radiating into my jaw and throat and the back of my head. it's the most uncomfortable possible feeling.

EdgarAllanBroe67 karma

I work at a hospital and was monitoring a 21 year old with almost the exact same story. Was.. that you?

heartattackama6 karma

that depends, where do you live?

EmilySparrow60 karma

Why did it last eight hours? What was the timeline between when it started and when it ended?

heartattackama102 karma

i began having the heart attack at about 2pm saturday afternoon and went into surgery about 10pm. it lasted eight hours because that's how long it took for me to get into surgery, it was not going to stop on its own unless i died.

OutaTowner30 karma

Can you explain in a more "/r/askscience" manner?

Was your heart fibrillating for 8 hours? If so, couldn't you have used the defibrillator?

If not, what exactly was the heart doing, and what was being done in the mean time directly dealing with the heart/circulation?

heartattackama9 karma

i have no idea i'm not very sciencey.

Deathbybunnies45 karma

Does this have future health complications attached? What did it feel like?

heartattackama96 karma

it felt like i was being crushed under the pressure of something, i have literally never felt anything like it. i was so uncomfortable that i couldn't hold still, i was wiggling around the entire time. i may have to have a stent put in and i take medications that are blood thinners and blood pressure medications. i can not carry a child. i have to watch vitamin k levels the rest of my life because of the meds i am on, i have to watch my blood pressure for the rest of my life but only to make sure that nothing bad happens. also, i will have to have my mechanical aortic valve replaced every 20 years.

JonJH17 karma

If you would like children it may be worth discussing the possibility of switching from warfarin to a low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) with your doctor - both work as blood thinners but you can have LMWH during pregnancy and many women do due to clotting disorders.

heartattackama9 karma

to be honest with you, it isn't important enough to me. for now warfarin works the best for me and carrying a child isn't important enough for me to change that around.

Squiggy_Pusterdump39 karma

No joke, but did you shit yourself?

heartattackama114 karma

not during the heart attack but during my recovery i shit myself a couple of different times, maybe even three times. not ashamed to admit that haha.

zeeh3472 karma

you shouldn't. I probably would've shit myself a lot more than that.

heartattackama19 karma

haha well you aren't allowed to "strain" so they give you fucking stool softeners so any time you "release gas" you shit yourself. sucks.

ChelseaElla21 karma

First off congrats on making it through a heart attack and open heart surgery! That's amazing!

My question is though, what did it feel like you when you started having a heart attack? How did you know you were having a heart attack? What were the first signs? What were you doing when it happened and what did you first do when you knew something was wrong?

Thanks for the AMA, good luck, and I wish you a speedy recovery!

heartattackama46 karma

thank you so much! well i had just opened a beer and taken one sip and sat down on the couch next to my dad when all of a sudden i felt an extreme pain in my chest, like a pressure. like someone was sitting on my chest. i looked at my dad and told him that i thought something was wrong. we took my blood pressure and it was 190/140. at which point we knew something was very wrong so i took an asprin and called an ambulance.

heartattackama44 karma

in fact, my mom called the ambulance while my dad took my blood pressure i believe because i just had this overwhelming sense of impending doom.

TheodorMohana11 karma

Sup Hisao.

heartattackama5 karma

yes haha i've been called hisao before. he and i do have similar conditions.

FatLute9410 karma

First of all, glad to hear you survived and are feeling well enough to answer questions about it all. Does having any sort of blood pressure irregularity increase risk of having a heart attack or is it usually just high blood pressure? My family has a trend of having low blood pressure so I'm just wondering. Also, have you learned of any steps people can take to prevent the risk of a heart attack of that scale?

heartattackama18 karma

well my problems were all congenital and there was no way to prevent my issues, i was born this way and it is an anomaly, meaning they have no idea what caused it. as far as i know, hypertension does not cause heart attacks often at all, it is more common with high blood pressure. the best thing i know to do is to eat well and stay active to protect your heart, but if you are born with the issues i was born with, there is no way to change the things that are wrong with your heart. and if you are going to have a dissection leading to a heart attack, it is unavoidable.

ShineeBep6 karma

Wow, that must have come as quite a surprise. I don't have anything to ask, but I'm glad you are sorting out the issues and I'm also glad you are feeling better!

heartattackama11 karma

thank you so much, i feel like a new person! i am so so grateful to be alive.

ShineeBep5 karma

Actually, scratch what I said before. I do have a question now.
What was it like leading up to the attack? What were you doing, and the like?

heartattackama21 karma

i had just opened a beer and sat down on the couch next to my dad. we were discussing what movie to watch. i took one sip of my beer and it hit me like a ton of bricks, literally out of nowhere. i looked at my dad and said that i thought something was really wrong. he took my blood pressure and it was 190/140, which is incredibly high. i took an asprin and we called the ambulance. when i arrived at the emergency room, my blood pressure was 210/150. they had to calm me down in order to do a ct scan and find out the issue so i was highly medicated and when they finally did the scan, they saw what was wrong and flew me out as soon as possible to a place where they were equipped to help me.

ShineeBep13 karma

I'm glad you were with somebody who could take care of you! That's very lucky!

heartattackama18 karma

i almost was home alone! i am very fortunate that everything happened the way it did.

kmao200410 karma

What prompted him to take your blood pressure? Any particular reason that equipment was lying around?

heartattackama21 karma

high blood pressure runs in my family and my dad has had a lot of issues with his blood pressure in the past. also my dad is older, almost 70, so he has to pay attention to things like that. for some reason my first instinct was to say that i felt like i was having a heart attack and that is what prompted him to take it and thank god he did.

heartattackama13 karma

it was a completely normal saturday afternoon. we had just eaten a cheeseburger which i didn't keep down upon arriving at the hospital.

big_phat_gator6 karma

Have you ever tried to get back at your heart after it attacked you? I hate hearts, they are sneaky bastards...

heartattackama3 karma


xpsdeset5 karma

The scars will heal,I just wanted to say keep smiling.

here a baby kangaroo in pajamas,to help you.


heartattackama3 karma

thank you! hahahaha awwwwwww that is the cutest shit ever. i wanna baby kangaroo!

iwanttofork5 karma

Do you ever feel like you cheated Death and now Death is coming to get you?

heartattackama25 karma

hahahaha i guess i do somewhat feel like i cheated death, but i do not think that death is coming to get me. i think that i cheated death, and am being congratulated by death for it haha.

spanish-mystic4 karma

do you have to take any medications for this?

heartattackama9 karma

i have to take a blood thinner and a blood pressure medicine for the rest of my life. currently, i take about 20 pills a day as part of recovery but that will only last about a month i think, unless something happens or my levels aren't correct. i also inject myself with lovenox twice a day until my blood levels are correct, which should only be a couple of days.

ekac3 karma

I went through a heart attack in May. I'm 30yo. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. My cardiologist warned me that heart attacks are almost always followed by extreme depression. It may be wise to seek out counseling if it's at all available to you.

heartattackama3 karma

i actually have a history of depression and see a therapist and psychiatrist already! thank you for the warning, my emotions have been all over the place. i cry at the drop of a hat and sometimes i'm so happy. just totally manic all the time haha, it's horrible. but i really am so thankful to be alive!