Two years ago I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM for short. This is a genetic heart condition. Hypertrophic translates literally as, "too much growth," and it means that the septum wall of my heart is too thick due to a genetic defect of the manner in which my heart's cells are built. Over time, the heart has difficulty pumping blood because the lower chambers become too small. The heart then overcompensates and starts working really hard, and that puts me at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. It's an electrical issue, not a plumbing issue. Plumbing issues cause heart attacks; electrical issues cause sudden cardiac arrest. Since it's genetic, it's apparently been with me my entire life. Gee thanks, ancestors.
I learned I had this condition during a physical exam just before turning 45. During a routine EKG due to hypertension, they found an oddity that led me to having a bunch of other tests done. I was originally on a list to have a defibrillator implanted at LFU's hospital, but I sought a second opinion from a Center of Excellence for the disorder. I repeated all of said tests (sigh), and they said basically, "You're fine for now. Come back in two years."
Fast-forward two years to present day. Here in BAC, I established with a cardiologist and was pleased to learn that the hospital affiliated with my current employer, PRU, is also a Center of Excellence for HCM. The surgeon is the head of the center for implanted heart devices here, so in other words she does NOT suck. She said, "You don't have to do this immediately. But if you were my favorite cousin, I'd go ahead and get the defibrillator implanted soon." One has a 5% chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest, but those go up to a 95% survival rate with an implanted defibrillator. As you can imagine, I followed the advice of the surgeon and used the available data to make the decision to proceed with the surgery.
My advice to anyone, especially to men who typically do not seek routine medical attention, is 1) go to your doctor once per year for a physical exam, and 2) when dealing with a major medical diagnosis, seek a second opinion from a Center of Excellence for your disorder, even if it involves a trip out of town. It really makes a huge difference.