This week I had my fourth and fifth sessions of cardiac rehab at the Alle-Kiski Medical Center.
They have increased the length of time I work on each piece of equipment, and today they started me on a new piece of equipment that works upper body muscles.
Today they also gave me the angina lecture, part of the educational component of the rehab program. People experience angina with different symptoms. My symptoms before I had my heart attack in November were tightness in my chest, shortness of breath after minor exertion, pain in my right shoulder and arm, and fatigue.
(Of course, denial is a very powerful force. For a few days I had been telling myself very hopefully that each of the symptoms were unrelated: that I must have indigestion, that I must be out of shape, that maybe I pulled a muscle, etc.)
It is important to recognize angina because it is a signal that my heart is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood. If I experience angina again and don't get treatment, it could lead to another heart attack.
They gave me a handout that also included information about nitroglycerin. I should talk with my doctor about whether he should prescribe nitroglycerin for me. It is an inexpensive medication that increases the blood flow to the heart muscle.
They warned me about the side-effects from nitroglycerin, but I already knew about those. When I was in the middle of my heart attack at the emergency room they gave me nitro tablets and then a nitro patch. Before long I had an absolutely splitting headache.
The handout also described how to take the nitroglycerin tablets when I experience angina, how to store it, and how often to get the prescription refilled even if I have not used it.