LAD Artery: So it transpires that my 9... - British Heart Fou...

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LAD Artery

simplysal profile image

So it transpires that my 90% blockage that was treated with a stent on Friday was in my LAD artery!

Otherwise known as the ‘widow maker’.

Well that’s instilled fear within me straight away.

My cardiologist only verbalised during the angiogram that one of my arteries was 90% blocked so needed angioplasty and stent. Hadn’t verbalised which artery and in my naivety didn’t know that one artery may have been more important than any other.

I read it in the GP letter, a copy of which I was given.

Just read about the LAD, how it feeds more of the heart muscle than any other and how a blockage in this artery is the worst blockage to find.

I feel great knowing that lol! I am thankful it’s been found and treated but worried about my future now I guess,

Anyone else had a stent in their LAD? Cheers, Sal.

39 Replies
Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star

Hello,

My husband had his Left anterior descending LAD, stented over 10 years ago when he was in his 40's.

Dr Google's consulting room isn't necessarily the best place to get good balanced information.

I personally don't like alarmist terms like ' widow maker '. It's a term more often used in the US.

My husband is well and truly alive. He takes the recommended medication to reduce the chances of further obstructions developing.

We eat a heart healthy diet, exercise and manage our stress. He doesn't smoke.

Have you been referred to Cardiac rehab?

If so they are the go to place for information along with the BHF helpline and website.

simplysal profile image
simplysal in reply to Milkfairy

Thanks yes I’m typically not a ‘google queen’ but had no idea what LAD even stood for. Yes felt affected by what I read! I’m on this forum specifically looking for more balanced information. Though I kind of wish the cardiologist could have voiced more that day.

Only by chance reading the letter did I spot it.

The Cardiac Day Unit did say I will be given a PCI appointment which is linked to aftercare however I have no knowledge on what PCI means either.

I’ve heard people are referred to Cardiac Rehab following a heart attack but my angiogram was planned and diagnostic. It was only during the procedure, they found the blockage, went on to do the angioplasty and stent so not sure if I’ll be referred for rehab. I certainly wasn’t told I would be.

Huge thanks for your response, very reassuring 👍

Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to simplysal

PCI

Percutaneous coronary intervention.

Hopefully you will be able to access Cardiac Rehab sessions.

The BHF website has some Cardiac rehab videos.

bhf.org.uk/informationsuppo...

simplysal profile image
simplysal in reply to Milkfairy

Cheers that’s really helpful. Will take a look - huge thanks 🥰

My LAD was blocked in two places one of them 96% blockage, had 2 stents just over 3 years ago. Yesterday I ran a fairly tough 10K in 56 mins, so don't get too despondent!

That’s incredible and so uplifting! Awesome job! 👊

Thanks. Don't worry about the future, just make sure you get plenty of exercise and have the right diet, you'll be fine.

Cheers, diet I’m doing well at. Exercise I need to do better at. Yes will keep my focus more on the present. Huge thanks 👍

Just start simple, walks, brisk walks, swimming's good, anything, but you absolutely have to do something regularly that gets the old ticker working. what about couch to 5K? My wife used to "hate" running, now she can't get enough.

Yes I was running (very amateur like) and did a few park runs but developed knee problems so GP advised against running.I enjoy walking and swimming. I have an exercise bike acting as a clothes horse in my bedroom? Lol 😂

A lot of people have problems with knee trouble, it is mostly attributed to having unsuitable shoes or being overweight. You need to go to a good running shop and get fitted out with some decent running shoes. Swimming def helps especially if you need to shed a few pounds first (not implying you do). I will be honest trying to do it on an exercise bike in indoors is never going to work for most people.

Cheers for your advice! I’m excited to get moving more. My semi sedentary lifestyle hasn’t helped and won’t go on to help. This has given me an opportunity to put things right 👍

Hi lateguitarist. Did I understand you correctly . You had two stents in LAD? I had two in the same place. Reading all these messages this is the first time I’ve seen someone else with two stents to LAD. Began to think I was unique. It is rather scary though dont you think

I think it is more scary to think what could have, and sadly does happen. I suppose it is worrying to think about it but to be honest I don't dwell on it, I just thank my lucky stars I got away with it and do my best to try and prevent any further problems and from reading your profile so do you, that's all you can do really. That's one cute dog by the way.

Hi Lateguitarist . You are absolutely spot on. We were so lucky. I just hadn’t read anyone else having two stents in same place. I do try with the diet and in general very good. Exercise is a bit more tricky it’s not my thing but I walk that cute dog everyday and I’m not a sitter down. Hopefully I’ve a few more years yet. Thank you for your reply so nice to share our feelings and fears. Take care xx

Hi Sal, I was 45 when I was diagnosed as having a 90% blockage in my LAD and OM2 artories. Unfortunately, I had to have a double heart bypass as couldn't be stented. Once recovered from the op, I have been running, walking, boxing training and have felt more energetic than I have in years (with the exception getting covid and a bout of sciatica I currently have 😡 but they are not heart related)!

I take my meds, watch my diet but otherwise try not to let it stop me from enjoying my life. If anything, as cliché as it sounds, having the op has made me realise what's important in life.

Such a heart warming story! I’ll be 45 on Thursday - kind of assumed that’s just too young to find 90% blockages anywhere in our bodies, let alone our hearts. Just trying to swallow that bitter pill at the minute.It sounds as though you’re doing marvellous in spite of medical ailments! Yes I have two slipped discs (L4 & L5) and sciatica pain isn’t nice!

I’ve never been fit enough or done enough exercise in my past and thanks to Milkfairy’s comment above, will look at the exercise videos on BHF website.

Huge thanks for sharing - very uplifting 🥰🥰🥰

Hi Sal.. 🤗 Firstly, DON’T worry!! Easy-peasy, right?! 😉Secondly (& possibly more helpfully) 😁..yes, I had emergency angioplasty and stents put into my LAD and RCA following a ‘massive MI’ at age 44. That was way back in 2009. After getting my head round having a heart attack out of the blue at that age - esp with perfect BMI, weight, LDL, MDL, triglycerides, great diet and always being very active/sporty - I felt great again very shortly afterwards and was quickly back to feeling even fitter/stronger.

I did start having slight chest pain and shortness of breath 5 years later and had an ‘elective angiogram’ where a further stent was fitted in 2014. Since then I’ve felt generally great and in fact, have even been doing the C25K with no issues at all.

Lastly, re the dodgy knees.. me too! 😬..but, depending on the severity of your knee problems, your GP’s advice may not be too accurate! 🤔It’s scientifically proven that running has a lot LESS impact on the knees than walking. 🏃‍♀️

Anyway, as others are saying here.. do your best not to worry, carry-on with your healthy eating, and enjoy whatever exercise appeals to you every day. You’ll be GREAT!! 🙏💗

simplysal profile image
simplysal in reply to Simes11

Huge thanks for your response! I have to say I have felt shocked by what was found during the angiogram last Friday. Had convinced myself I’d be reassured any narrowing was keeping with age (44). I’m actually a baby and really had to find all this bravery I honestly didn’t think I had to be able to lie on a table awake knowing where that catheter was prodding around!

I’d say we’re a pretty brave bunch and you’ve all been so incredibly supportive!

You were my age when you suffered your massive MI! We always like to find reasons for it don’t we - things that might explain why it happened but it sounds for you that there were no obvious reason! Genetics?

I consider myself lucky that at least I’m now aware and will be monitored. As my twin said, she might have similar narrowing herself but may just be currently unaware.

Huge thanks for your wonderful reassurance 👍

Simes11 profile image
Simes11 in reply to simplysal

Oh bless you! You ARE brave & this is, in so many ways a HUGE deal, esp emotionally & psychologically!! ❤️ Yes, I was diagnosed with CHD with a familial history; my father died of a 2nd MI & cardiac arrest at 39 (I was 5), & his elder brothers died a few years later in their early 40’s. We kinda all had an eye on my older brother, just assuming this may perhaps affect his heart being male.. not for a moment had it occurred to me or any of my GP’s that this was ticking away in my skinny little fit as a fiddle female bod! 😳 Hey ho.. it’s been interesting! 😁

Your twin must be very concerned though; I’m sure she may well be absolutely fine, but it’s surely wise for her to be properly checked. For you, Sal.. just know, you’re in very good hands and now that you are, you’ll be very well ‘watched over’ and regularly taken care of to ensure nothing ‘out of the blue’ will happen. 🙏🤗💗

simplysal profile image
simplysal in reply to Simes11

Cheers lovely! There are improvements to be made my side and I’ll just do my damnest to simply improve what I can. That’s all we can do isn’t it.I am still surprised to have had an angiogram and couldn’t feel it around my heart. Strange isn’t it.

Yes my family have been thinking about their own health since my procedure.

You’ve reassured me to no end and I can’t thank you enough to have shared your story to help keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.

I have been upset (tearful) a couple of times as I work through accepting where I’m at. But I think overall I’m doing ok.

Huge thanks for your wonderful support, Sal 😘

Simes11 profile image
Simes11 in reply to simplysal

Yep, VERY ‘strange’, from start to finish!!! 😳But kinda cool too.. seeing my own heart beating away was..🤔 beautiful.. at one point I was literally moved to tears with a feeling of overwhelming gratitude and love. ❤️ Odd, huh?! Yes, I felt (& occassionally still feel) a little teary; but I think it’s very common & tbh only to be expected while we (ie emotionally, mentally, psychologically) deal with the shock and process not only the ‘event’ but the ‘future’… Let your tears flow when they need to, Sal.. it’s healing and necessary.. 🙏💗

Donna x

simplysal profile image
simplysal in reply to Simes11

Cheers Donna! I guess it’ll forever be a work in progress, the adjusting to health difficulties along this road of life. You have an amazing way of viewing things! I hadn’t felt able to look at the screen ha! (I saw my name, saw a large image beating away, then looked away). It was incredible however what they were able to do and how they were able to do it.Thanks again Donna, your support is so appreciated, Sal 😘

nellie237 profile image
nellie237 in reply to simplysal

" and will be monitored" I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I had an MI and LAD stent in 2012 at age 53, and my 'follow up' consisted of Cardiac Rehab (which was really very helpful, and I will keep my fingers crossed for you that you get this ), and an outpatient appointment with the Cardiologist to discharge me back to my GP.

The good news is that I am still OK, and have not had any more heart related problems. I agree with everybody here that exercise is vital. Cardiac rehab advised on things like how high to let your heart rate go before resting for a bit, which made me much more confident.

Yes I have my eyes peeled on a bike I’ve spotted on marketplace! I do enjoy bike riding for pleasure. Haven’t ever done it (or any other exercise) often enough.

Glad you found my clothes horse funny! It’s become a very practical piece of furniture - the socks can hang perfectly from the pedals 😂.

Seriously tho I’m going to look into my options.

Re. Cardiac rehab, I telephoned the Cardiac Day Case earlier. Will be offered a follow up appointment with PCI clinic. They couldn’t confirm if I’ll be offered rehab but will definitely ask when I’m seen.

Huge thanks for your lovely words 👍

Hi Sal, I had a by pass in my LAD and recently a stent. I also don't like the term widow maker (it is a new one on me) Yes it is worrying as it is the most important artery and as I am seeing the cardiac nurse tomorrow I intend to ask a few more questions.We can't help but worry but being well informed will help to get the most out of your body as possible .

Live for today and get as much out of life as possible.

Absolutely! I only googled blocked LAD (immediately wished I hadn’t) but had come from a place of knowing nothing.Yea if you hear any valuable information, I’d love to hear it.

You’re so right, we need to make every moment count don’t we. Huge thanks for your kind words 🥰

Sal good news (for me) my GP mis read the letter from the hospital, when I had the by pass they used a mammary artery as the bypass, the bypass was in the LAD and this was what was in the letter. The drilling and the 2 stents were both in the right coronary artery. The thing I think you can take away from this is that a bypass using the mammary artery is an option down the line and from what I understand the mammary artery is there waiting to be used and unlike when they take it from the leg it is the same size as all the other arteries in the heart.

Sorry my terminology is so simplistic (it is all I know)

You have lots of alternatives down the line.

Hello, I had a NSTEMI heart attack in February, ended up with 3 stents in my left circumflex (feeds the back of the Heart) and then had an 8 week wait to get 3 stents in my LAD. It was a bit scary waiting but I take the view its better to be stented, know there was a problem and be on the various protective medications than have no idea and end up with a blocked LAD (which is serious of course).

The main thing to look at and ask about is your heart function and ejection fraction. I was very lucky to have preserved heart function and 60-65% EF, but there are many people on here who are doing very well with much reduced numbers who are helped by exercise, diet and medications

Hi Sal,

Was your anxiety really extreme before the procedure. I can’t get my anxiety under control and I’m due the procedure in 2 days. I am now worried that my uncontrolled anxiety will put me at further risk. Haven’t slept probably for a week and keep crying to my hubby every couple of hours. Are any of these similar to what you experienced. Do they help you on the day getting it under control. Did the medication help or just make you drowsy

simplysal profile image
simplysal in reply to Ash52

I give you my word and apologies for profanities but I was absolutely 1million percent “shitting myself”. Like I cannot put it into words. Was finding myself counting down the days, felt the procedure acted as a dark cloud wherever I went, it was on my mind. I am a complete wussbag where hospital procedures are concerned.I was petrified of having and angiogram and terrified of what may have been found.

I’d reassure myself that yes the appointment was on the Friday morning, but I didn’t have to go (just to stay in control).

The Friday arrived and I thought “we’ll I may as well go - doesn’t mean I have to go through with it” to reassure myself.

On arrival thought “I’ll see how the nurses are, I’ll let them do my blood pressure and SATS and I can always leave then lol!

All of this to maintain a feeling that I was still in control.

Only when I was there, changed into a gown, with the IV placed at my elbow after signing the consent form, I almost in a very scared sort of way, surrendered and acknowledged I was going nowhere and silently resigned myself.

So essentially by this point, nothing hurt other than prick of IV and emotional registering of risks as you sign your name on the paper.

Until they wheel you in to the cath lab.

Only because I would guess it’s an unfamiliar place to you. I recall around 8 people were in there. I remember seeing how many and silently asking myself what an earth are all these here for.

A nurse placed BP cuff on my arm and that finger clip thing to monitor heart rate. Someone else washing my wrist with iodine. Someone else covering me with blankets. Someone else talking to me (she was the nurse linked to the Cardiologist and we’d already discussed that I would have a sedative) so she said she was about to put it through. It was a tiny dose of Midazolam. Looked the smallest amount in the syringe.

I have to say it resulted in me feeling able to manage lying there whilst retaining all of my faculties. I wasn’t ‘out of it’ and ‘unable to express myself if I felt I needed to’ but it did relax me.

As I led there I recall reminding myself to just think calmly and be calm as it wouldn’t help otherwise.

The scratch from the local anaesthetic was mire than manageable. I think they were a little too fast placing the sheath in position. Can vividly recall saying a big ouch to that. I did feel the sensation of the catheter going up and down my right arm, but it wasn’t painful. And I didn’t feel anything as they were working around my heart inside the vessels there. With the exception of when they did the angioplasty and inflated the balloon, that caused momentary discomfort in my chest but it again felt completely manageable and lasted around five seconds.

When the procedure was done, a plastic band is placed there tightly which doesn’t hurt, just feels tight. You are taken back to your bed space where you relax for around four hours before they let you go.

My right arm that was used was sore for 24hrs. I’ve been left with three puncture marks on right wrist and a very impressive bruise.

I remember thinking “I got myself so worked up over nothing”.

I was overanalysing the procedure so much that I hadn’t given any thought to the ‘what if I needed a stent”. Found after the procedure was a doddle. It’s the sat there in the knowledge that my LAD was 90% blocked that retrospectively I’ve found the hardest. It’s certainly a realisation call. There’s a bit of an emotional adjustment needed for it but there’s also gratitude that it was found at all. Not everyone are as fortunate.

Good luck with your procedure. I know how much of a wussbag I am and I feel if I could do it, anyone can.

All the very best to you, Sal.

Thank you so much Sal reading your post has given me so much reassurance that I’m not alone with this feeling of uncontrollable fear. My Fear is about dying or having a Stoke or needing emergency surgery during the procedure. If I knew that I was going to be ok I wouldn’t worry about it. Ash x

simplysal profile image
simplysal in reply to Ash52

Yes that crossed my mind too! Just know that it has happened in the past, hence they need to mention it before the procedure but they do these procedures on people of all ages. I was on the unit with a female patient in her 80’s. Whilst they have to tell you about risks, they are not anticipating any. It was helpful to reassure myself of two things;

1. They are there to help you, not hurt you.

(Sounds obvious right? But when anxiety takes over you can feel it’s you against the world lol! Our irrational fear takes over. Remind yourself that the medics & nurses don’t want anything bad to happen to you either. They want you to be as well as you want to be. You’re all one team striving for the same outcome.

2. Should anything go wrong (worst worst case scenario), they will know how to react and you’ll be in the best place.

Once you can get your head around those two, the rest honestly is a breeze. You are likely to still feel petrified even after reading my response because this is your procedure in two days that is happening to your body but honestly, what you’re feeling is what most of us feel prior and I’m sure you’ll feel the way we did afterwards, relieved and will think to yourself “I put myself through that turmoil unnecessarily”. Good luck 👍

Thank you Sal you have been a godsend. I think my severe anxiety come from the fact that I have had no symptoms of angina or any issues for over 6months since CT scan showed a blockage of my LAD. The only reason I was sent for that was because I had shortness of breath 2 days with left arm ache. If I felt unwell at all or was unable to exercise I think I would reside myself to it more. It’s just hard electing to have procedure with risk when you feel fit and well x

Hi Sal,Its nearly 2 years since my 4 stents (full metal jacket LAD) after I was rushed to hospital following my heart attack.

Since then I have lost over 3 stones, so now to 11 stone 4 so normal range BMI.

I retired from my stressful job, took up exercise and changed the focus of my life which was work / career focused. Bought an apple watch and took up exercise (gently at first).

I still experience occasional twinges, sometimes pain for day(s) and its nearly 2 years since my procedure. Got so anxious last spring that I went to A&E who gave me an ECG, blood tests and found nothing other than raised GGT. Had my GGT checked out by another blood test and it was back to normal, so I put it down to overdoing it (eg. couch to 5k, crosstrainer, 44 length swim, exercise bike, rowing machne etc - who knows what causes it? I am anxious by nature and still worry at every little twinge. I am hoping over time it will get better and wait in hope, so is my wife!

I have also tried online CBT, which to be honest did not work for me, so now use the CALM app.

Hope you start to feel better soon and welcome to the forum , which is very helpful and supportive.

Hello simplysal,I had 2 stents inserted in LAD 12 months ago at the point where it bifurcates. 90% on one ,80% on other , had no problems until one month ago when my ankles started to swell up. At moment attending Cardiac clinic to see why.

Hi simplysalThe LAD artery is the commonest one to get blocked so a lot of people on here will have had it stented or bypassed.

2.5 years ago my LAD was found to be 99% blocked & 2 other arteries over 70% blocked & I had 3 Bypass Grafts done - now feeling alot better and back to work as a truck driver

simplysal profile image
simplysal in reply to Bigrig

That’s amazingly positive! So pleased to hear you’re doing well! Chuffed to beans reading your story, thanks for sharing 🥰

Hi Simplysal. Like you I went in for a diagnostic angiogram during which they found a severe blockage of the LAD and decided to fit a stent there and then. A good while later I was looking up LAD and, like you, slightly shocked to find it was called the “widow maker”. But it’s definitely the right order to discover it, after it has been fixed. Ten years on and I’m still confounding that description and hopefully will for another ten years. On the subject of rehab, none was offered to me.

All the best

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