Today (well, everyday, but especially today) I'm remembering my father who passed away three years ago. He served in the Air National Guard. My father died unexpectedly of a disease called HCM. Never heard of it? Neither had we before his death. I would love to share a little bit about it with you since it is a completely treatable (but rarely tested for) disease if you know you have it.
From Wikepedia: "Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, HCM or HOCM, is a disease of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart) in which a portion of the myocardium is hypertrophied (thickened) without any obvious cause. It is perhaps most well-known as a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. The occurrence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a significant cause of sudden unexpected cardiac death in any age group and as a cause of disabling cardiac symptoms.
HCM is frequently asymptomatic until sudden cardiac death; it can be detected with high accuracy (70%+) by screening via ECG or echocardiogram. Routine Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Screening of athletes in Italy since the 1970s has reduced sudden cardiac death by 89%; in the United States such screening is not routine and has consistently been opposed by the American Heart Association, presumably due to its rare incidence."
The above paragraph claims HCM as frequently asymptomatic, but it is my personal belief that because it is a rare disease, the symptoms that patients exhibit are often misdiagnosed and/or ignored as "not serious". My father presented the following symptoms that never led doctors to perform an ECG: Periods of rapid heartbeat, intense feelings of "heartburn" without cause, asthma.
After my father passed, my uncle, who realized he had all these symptoms, immediately went in to get tested and has HCM (it is genetic). He is being treated.
Anyway, thanks for reading. I also want to honor all the service men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and those who continue to serve.