I did 6 minutes on the Bruce protocol (Stress test) but my pressures were pretty awful (we stopped the test at a systolic of 219, and the systolic pressure rose all the way up to 239 which is the equivalent of stage 4 hypertensive at rest).  I started the test at 180/100 which is technically stage 3 at rest – and I had fallen asleep in the waiting area.  I got a script for some blood pressure meds.

The pressures were also elevated in both eyes on the eye exam (18 and 20), but still not at glaucoma levels.  That at least, is good news.  The eye doctor did not offer an explanation for the blurriness, but did not think that laser coagulation was needed.  Vision was ok without correction, including peripheral vision.

I spent another day trying to pick up medical records.  I got the eye exam result, but not the cardiac stress test result.  I want the actual data – the CD of the recording, but even the evaluation of the results was not available until after the holidays.  Looking back at the experience, there are a few things that could have been done differently.  I survived the experience, but it is possible that a blood clot could have destabilized during the procedure.  I’m not staying far from a hospital, but recovering overnight by myself was probably a little risky.  But I made it.  And now, I feel more confident about my limits, and recognize better my symptoms under stress.  I have the blood pressure monitor, and have still had some elevated pressures over the past few mornings, although they dropped yesterday evening through this morning to the 130’s/80.

I went out and bought both a stethoscope ($9) and a microphone headset ($15). For whatever trivial reason, I was not able to get a scope in Maryland, but had to go to Virginia.  Anyway, I had forgotten that the earpieces on the blood pressure meter cannot be adapted for heart auscultation.  I used a knife to break the end cap of the microphone to improve sensitivity,

putting together the microphone<br /><br /><br /><br />
and the stethoscope

putting together the microphone and the stethoscope

and then hooked it up to the computer and stethoscope and got some pretty nice recordings of my heart valves.

heart_valve_complete_ptamI did all 4 quadrants (APT M), starting with upper right (at the sternum just to the left of it), lower right (down but just left of the sternum), upper left (upper outside of left a couple of inches from the arm pit), then lower left (down but toward the outside of the rib cage).  After a poor initial placement for lower left, the bell was repositioned.  I positioned, held my breath so that breathing would not interfere, and then made big noises when I changed the position so that it would register.  I used a booster on the input line of the Linux mhWaveEdit program to record it, and tried to record about 10 beats in each position.

very close to sternum but on the left side of it about 2-3 inches down from the clavicle

very close to sternum but on the left side of it about 2-3 inches down from the clavicle

lower outer left side (closest to left hip, but still at rib cage)

lower outer left side (closest to left hip, but still at rib cage)

upper outer right side (closest to arm pit)

upper outer left side (closest to left arm pit)

lower sternum just to the left of it, just above diaphragm

lower sternum just to the left of it, just above diaphragm

According to this site, my technique needs a little work.  The primary valve sounds were not correctly identified.

The blood pressure medicine (lisinopril) that they gave me is not expensive at Wal-Mart.  Another alternative would be to try to find some natural herbs that lower blood pressure.  Garlic apparently helps.

Anyway, I’m a little reassured that my pressure is lower this morning. I took the dogs out for a couple of miles of hiking and biking this morning on another section of the Cabin John trail – the one that is right next to the shopping mall.

cabin_john_ekg 004

We saw a few different birds (mostly closer to the bird seed feeding areas).

cabin_john_ekg 006

A red-breasted nuthatch or an American Robin.  I think it is the second.  I’m going to work on some auscultations on the dogs.

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