Micheal O'BrienMicheal O'Brien
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I Am A Heart Cripple

Well, I am a Cardiac Cripple (From A False Positive).


I have to face this.

Doing a stress ECG for my Pilot's License bi-annual medical examination led to a false positive (75% accurate). The result was being sent for a nuclear medicine scan that also turned up a false positive and suggested an RCA Ischemia (atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD), the leading cause of death worldwide) with the lower part of my heart asphyxiated. 


  1. Stress ECG (noteable mortality rate)  = 75% Accuracy
  2. Nuclear Medicine Scan (some death rate) = 80% Accuracy
  3. Angiogram (very significant mortality) = 100% accuracy 


The next step was to book an angioplasty and possible open heart surgery. An angiogram would come first and a surgical team would be ready with the saw.


Meanwhile, from November 21, 2012 until Feb. 11, 2013 I was led to believe I was dieing.  This was a somber and reflective time.


I faced death, a very lonely experience. I did not change my lifestyle. I kept on jogging, walking and using the stairs every day instead of the elevator for 8-10 floors depending on if I was coming from the parking garage or the street level. 


I am a vegan for many years so I have a fat free, healthy diet. No change there. 


The February 11 hospitalization began with an angiogram--a process with a high mortality. Mine was extensive and went through all the cardiac arteries because the process was revealing only perfectly healthy arteries. 


I got a perfectly clean bill of health. I was told I could do anything I wanted; my commercial pilot's license would be reinstated, and I would live many happy years into the future with a perfect heart and cardio-vascular system. 


But.


That was a lonely and scary experience during those late, long, lonely nights in the winter of 2012/2013.


Probably many of the things I do today are out of fear of dieing alone. I did that once and did not like it.

There is however a need for over-sensitivity of this testing regime. The the prevalence of disease in the general population is relatively low, rising from near zero at age 30 to about 20% in 65 year old men. This implies that a fairly high test sensitivity is needed if a useful yield of positive tests. This process saves thousands of lives although it invariably and inadvertently takes many.


Doctors call it "Cardiac Cripple". It takes time to get one's head out of this negative space. I want to accelerate that time and start thinking straight; regain my confidence; restore self-esteem; and stop being numb. Maybe then I can be a better counselor in helping others deal with this sort of thing. :o) 


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