As you may know if you've been reading this blog for a while, heart conditions are nothing new to me. Last year, my dad was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM for short. This coincidentally kept me out of the 2012 Pittsburgh Half Marathon, as I was still undergoing testing to determine if I also had the defect or carried the gene.
HCM is a disease affecting the heart muscle in which a portion is thickened for no apparent reason, and is present in 0.2% to 0.5% of the general population. Most notably, HCM is a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes.
We were lucky the HCM was detected in my dad so that my brother and I could be tested. So far, I have passed my tests but there is a possibility I could carry the gene or develop the condition in the future as my dad's blood work could not rule that out. While it's scary to think this could be present in my system, especially when I am training at such an intense level, I am keeping up with my yearly exams and will be traveling to Calgary to visit an HCM specialist if needed.
So why am I telling you all of this? I'm hoping you will take action and responsibility for your health. Visit your doctor for regular check-ups and don't be afraid to ask questions. If something feels off, get it looked at. If someone doesn't take you seriously, find someone else who will. So often we find going to the doctor an inconvenience. We have to take time off work, or wait weeks for an appointment. But the truth is, our health should be our priority. I've said it time and time again on this blog: without your health, you have nothing. So promise me you'll take the next step when you need to.