Tag Archives: Just Say Know

Outrunning Heart Disease: A Lesson in Fainting, Family and Faith

Diane McNinch loves to run. She routinely logs more than 20 miles a week around Columbia.

“When I’m running, I leave my stress behind, pray and spend time with friends,” she said. “It’s not only my fitness; it’s my therapy.”

Diane McNinch on her favorite running trail in West Columbia

But there was a time when the 51 year old was afraid she wouldn’t be able to run anymore.

“I have a history of fainting,” Diane said.

Over the years, she fainted while pregnant with her daughter, when singing in church, and after having hip surgery. There was never a definitive reason why.

That’s until she went to an annual checkup with her primary care physician. Results of an EKG showed something was wrong with her heart’s electrical activity.

Diane’s doctor referred her to Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, for a full workup.

At Lexington Cardiology, Diane received a diagnosis of Long QT Syndrome, a condition where the muscle cells of the heart take an abnormally long time to “recharge.” Untreated, LQTS can increase the risk for a life-threatening arrhythmia.

“While many patients with LQTS don’t have any symptoms, others experience palpitations, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness, seizures or even cardiac arrest,” said William W. Brabham, MD, FHRS, an electrophysiologist with Lexington Cardiology.

Doctors treat LQTS with medications called beta blockers or by implanting a defibrillator. Treatment decisions are individualized based on many factors.

Dr. Brabham implanted a defibrillator in Diane’s side.

“It’s like an insurance policy,” Diane said. “If something goes wrong, the defibrillator will go off and I’ll be OK. I’m so thankful for this technology.”

LQTS can be acquired through certain medications that inhibit electrolyte movement. It can also be inherited from a parent or occur spontaneously without family history.

Diane learned her case was genetic. So, she shared the news with her family.

Family Ties

Diane, her brother and sister were screened for LQTS. Her sister tested positive. Her brother is waiting for his results. Diane’s two children – in their 20s – will be tested, too.

Diane had an infant brother who died unexpectedly in the 1960s. She now wonders if he had the condition. Both of her parents also passed away after a history of heart problems.

“Many people have no symptoms, no family history of heart problems and may never know they have the condition,” Dr. Brabham said. “Others my have a family history of sudden cardiac death or worrisome symptoms. They should see their doctor.”

Using her own experience to help others, Diane stressed the importance of developing a relationship with your physician and knowing your family history.

“I’m thankful our heart condition was found. Now that we know we have it, we can treat it,” she said.

On the Road Again
After having the defibrillator implanted, Diane took some time off from running. But doctors permitted her to work her way back into it gradually.

She ran the Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler in honor of her parents and their heart history.

She also joined a group called “Run for God,” a faith and endurance program.

“’Run for God’ not only helped me with running, but it also taught me how to work through adversity,” she said. “I plan to persevere and make the best of my situation.”

What Do Those Two Numbers Mean?

Your blood pressure has two numbers – top and bottom. We know that a healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80. But what exactly do each of those numbers measure? During an interview on WLTX-TV this week, Dr. Kenya Cooper of Lexington Family Practice Gilbert, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, answered that question.

~The top number is the systolic blood pressure. It measures the pressure in your arteries and vessels when the heart is in the middle of a beat.
~The bottom number is diastolic. That’s the pressure when your heart is relaxed between beats.
~Healthy numbers should be at or below 120/80.
~Recently, new guidelines for high blood pressure were released. Now, anything over 130/80 is considered high blood pressure. Previously, it was 140/90. That will mean a lot more people have high blood pressure – and will prompt physicians to make interventions sooner.

For more information about high blood pressure, and to test your knowledge with a quiz, visit LexMed.com/Know.

Just Say Know: Hands-Only CPR

If someone’s heart stopped beating, would you know what to do? It’s important for all community members to learn CPR. The American Heart Association now recommends hands-only CPR. That means chest compressions only, without mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

This video showcases how it’s done. It’s easier than you think. Please watch it and share it with your family and friends.

Hands-Only CPR Notes:
1. Send someone to call 911 or have someone call 911.
2. Kneel directly over the victim.
2. Put the heel of your hand over the center of the chest. Then, put your other hand on top of the first.
3. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives.
4. The tempo should be 100 to 120 compressions per minute, which is the rhythm of the song “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees.

You can help save a life.