Over the years, I’ve often used my voice as a sports blogger to raise awareness for Congenital Heart Disease. I also believe there needs to be more testing for athletes in regards to their heart. There have been so many incidences and tragedies where athletes have died at a young age due to heart related issues that went undetected. I believe all high school, college and pro athletes should undergo EKGS and Cardiac Stress Tests on a yearly basis. These two tests alone can tell a lot about a persons heart and if there any warning signs that a person should be aware. I’m not an athlete but I have had an EKG every year, and this year I had my first ever Cardiac Stress Test. This is a small glimpse into my life and how I prepared for the test.
This past Spring when I was at my annual appointment with my cardiologist she had made the suggestion to go undergo a Cardiac MRI and Cardiac Stress. At 34, I had never been through either one so I knew it was going to be a challenge. If they had done this type of testing on me back when I was in my late teens or early twenties I would have had no concerns about doing it. Back then I was full of energy and felt untouchable. At 34, my body had been through three open heart surgeries, had scar tissues all across my chest and stomach and now have degenerative arthritis in my feet and ankles. I knew doing the MRI and stress test back to back was going to be difficult so I started to prepare myself for it.
I had three months to prepare for the day and I was dedicated to the gym two to three days a week. My two main focuses were my abdominal and chest area so I could strengthen those muscles for all the breathing exercises I would have to. I also focused on my cardio because that was the main purpose of the testing. It was difficult at times because I felt like I was trying my best, but I still wasn’t where I needed to be. Two days prior to the test I ended up going to Grand Rapids Brazilian Jitsu where I ended up enlisting the help of my friend Professor Crabtree, who is a third degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I knew if anyone could help get me to where I needed to be it was going to be him. He put me through a tough cardio workout that left my exhausted, tired and more confident about the test then I had been before.
Everyone’s workout routine is completely different, but the one key suggestion I can give someone who is getting ready to do undergo the stress test, is to cut caffeine completely out of your diet a week leading up to it. I have been working very hard to cut it out completely, but we all have our vices. I did cut out all caffeine a week leading up this and I feel that along with my last minute cardio workout made a huge difference in how it turned out. Going forward I plan on continuing to go the gym and continue to push myself to my limits, so I don’t ever have to worry about going through it again. My final piece of advice, is don’t be afraid to ask for help. Having someone help you get in the right direction, support you and encourage you is the best thing you can do for yourself. Don’t let the stress of the stress test get the best of you.