It’s always nice to hear that you have a big heart from friends, family, and other loved ones. But when a doctor says it… it scares the bejesus out of you!
This past Monday was my annual physical and I was expecting the usual “you’re a runner and in great shape” routine. After all that’s how it’s gone for the past 4 years, “here’s your lollipop, now get out of my office”. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky this time.
The electrocardiogram showed warning signs for Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH). In Running Dummy terms… an enlarged heart.
The doctor said it could be a false positive due to me having a thin chest wall, but urged that I should come back in a few hours for an echocardiogram. It would provide more details and help “catch anything serious”. Gulp
Yeah, that’s two paragraphs in a row ending with a frownie face.
Oh yeah, he also said, “let’s be safe and not run until we get the results back next week“. Not run for a week? Was doc smoking crack!? I pleaded and he agreed some running would be ok, “just don’t push it”. What other kind of running is there?
So what did I do the very next morning? I went out and ran 10 miles as hard as I could. I mean, I knew there was nothing wrong with me… right?
Fast forward a week of of waiting, worrying, and thinking my heart is going to explode every time I went for a run… and the echo-cardiogram results are in.
Yes my heart is enlarged. However, this is normal considering the amount of training I do (40-50 miles a week). There were no signs of leakage, blockage, or any other abnormalities on my echocardiogram. I’m not sure why doc made this initially sound like the kiss of death, but I am glad it’s now “nothing to worry about”. He even said my heart is “quite strong”.
And in case you were wondering… everything else came back normal as well. Total cholesterol is 137 (63 HDL, 63 LDL, 50 Triglycerides). Thyroid, iron, serum ferritin levels are all good!
After doing all my reading, I now know that enlarged hearts are fairly common among endurance athletes, but I was previously unaware of this fact. Hal Higdon even chimed in on one of my Facebook posts to admit he also has an enlarged heart and it’s nothing to worry about!
My doctor scared the crap out of me. He initially made it sound like a death sentence. On the plus side… I did score two lollipops for my troubles! That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?