New Challenge- Exercise Stress Test
I had my first ever virtual doctor’s visit the other day, with my cardiologist. It went great. I told him about my bloodwork that I recently described. This brought up a funny confusing moment. He asked when the blood draw was and I said “February 2nd and 4th”. “You mean the blood was drawn on the 2nd and you got results on the 4th?”. “No, my GP checked so many boxes that it took 2 days to draw the blood”. “Oh…”.
He just wanted the standard heart disease stuff, cholesterol and triglycerides. The only number he’d like to see improved is my LDL cholesterol which is 101. He likes to see it below 100 for everyone except those at elevated risk for heart disease, for which the target is below 70. I’m borderline about elevated risk because I once had an abnormally high reading in my “calcium score” test. Also I had an angiogram prior to my heart valve surgery which showed some mild plaque build up. He’s going to give me a shot at fixing it with diet, and if I don’t get it better in 3 months we’ll revisit my statin medication. I was already working on cleaner eating, I’ll just get stricter about it. I was doing well with “no junk” but there is still too much oil and too many animal products in my diet. It’s good to have this 3 month window to motivate me.
The other thing he wants to do is another exercise stress test, which I haven’t had done since 2015. Since that was after I was diagnosed with aortic stenosis, but before my heart valve surgery, it showed some arrhythmias. I’m hoping to repeat it, perform well, and have no arrhythmias this time. This is a challenging test where they keep bumping up the speed and incline of a treadmill until you can’t go any more. I like to have an athletic challenge to train for, so I’m going to use this test as motivation for the next three months. My wife would roll her eyes if she read this and think “Oh no he’s hearing the Rocky song again, I better make sure we have Bengay”.
But my training will be similar to what I’m already doing, although the motivation will get me to go harder on “hard days”, but since it’s a treadmill test and I haven’t been hiking much lately I’ll substitute a lot more uphill walking and hiking for some of my biking.
An interesting twist on this test is that the doc is throwing in a “Nuclear Perfusion Study“. A die is injected during the test which allows coronary blood flow to be visualized. If there is no impairment with intense exercise, it would mean my coronary arteries are clean. Can’t wait to find out!