Thursday, March 14, 2013

Big Dogs Die Young

The women in my family live well into old age.  80's.  90's.  I think one great-grandma was close to or into her 100's.  With the economy the way it is, I'm not sure that's a good thing.  I see this little old lady on the corner near my work with her walker and coke-bottle glasses begging for money.  I don't want that to be me.  I've always relied on the fact that I'm so tall that maybe I'll just live happily into my 70's, then dig out before I get crazy health problems or run out of money.  Someone on my Facebook page was commenting on how many health issues I have.  What can I say?  One body just can't contain all of this awesomeness. 

So, let's add to that list.

My doctor recently ran some blood tests and one of them was a high sensitivity cardio-reactive protein (CRP) test, which tests for heart health/inflammation.  CRP is produced by the liver.  The level rises when there is inflammation throughout the body.  When all other tests (such as cholesterol, etc.) appear to show normal/healthy levels, this test is supposedly one of the best indicators of future heart attack.

My decision to have gastric bypass surgery was partially influenced by a test I took over 10 years ago that reported that my heart was "enlarged and flabby."  Years before that, I had taken fen phen, and was entitled to certain medical tests to ensure that my heart valve had not be ruined by the medication.  My valve was fine but my heart was not in great shape.  I was 350 pounds.  Even though I've battled some recent weight gain, I am still 100 pounds lighter than I used to be!  Of course, my heart must be in better shape too, right? 

On the paper given to me by my doctor, less than "1" was considered low risk.  1-2 is considered moderate risk.  Over 3 was high risk (and over 10 was really bad news).  I was almost a 5.  I'm half way to really bad news.  It was so scary and a bit of a wake-up call. 

So, other than taking medication, or prescribing weight loss (which is a long term solution, and may not fix the problem considering I DID lose 100 pounds and still have an inflamed heart), how can I lower my CRP?

One way is to take krill oil.  Krill oil is more expensive than regular fish oil or omega three supplements, but apparently krill oil has anti-inflammatory properties.  I just picked up a bottle and started that today.

Increase exercise.  I admit I have been a little lax on the cardio.  I love Twirly Girls and yoga but hate the treadmill.  Last week, I started back to cycling (have to watch that stupid bone spur too...ugh). 

My doctor also suggested taking a baby aspirin.  That made me a little nervous due to the gastric bypass, but I'm giving it a try. 

Other suggestions:  Make sure you are getting enough sleep and lower your stress levels (uh, ok).  Supposedly, increasing fiber can help as well.  Also, limit foods high in saturated fat. 

Anyway, I swore I wouldn't count calories again, but here I am.  I have been recording my food again for a week.  I guess the doctor will check my levels again in a few months and we will see if I have made any progress.  I do want to follow the Health At Every Size philosophy, and I was glad that my doctor didn't simply suggest weight loss as the fix (he just said get more active and eat healthier), but what IF weight loss IS the fix for something?  Then again, I am 100 pounds lighter and THAT weight loss didn't seem to fix the problem.

I am at a loss.  I guess medication can be a consideration if healthy living doesn't fix this.  Heart issues run in my family.  My grandfather on my dad's side, my dad, my cousin, my sister...all various heart issues.  So I guess I should take this seriously. 

As anyone else had this issue and has it corrected itself?? 

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