When the Grim Reaper comes tapping at your door

Beyond the Rhetoric

Harry C. Alford | 3/2/2020, 12:20 p.m.

According to www.influenza.com: When influenza (flu) goes uncontrolled, risk of cardiac death may increase. Influenza infection may trigger cardiovascular events by causing an acute and severe inflammatory state.  About twice as many people die of cardiac causes as opposed to influenza-induced pneumonia during influenza epidemics.

The days following influenza infection can be dangerous. Research reveals that influenza can increase the chance for dire cardiovascular events. 10 times the risk of myocardial infarction in the first three days after influenza infection, eight times the risk of stroke in the first three days after influenza infection. Within 30 days of infection, among US veterans with laboratory-confirmed influenza: 50 percent who were 65 to 84 years of age had evidence of acute cardiac injury. 

www.Influenza.com research shows that diabetes and influenza infection can:

Triple the risk of hospitalization  , quadruple the risk of admission to the intensive care unit after hospitalization, double the risk of death .

Harry titled this column, shaking my head. I would have called it “In Sickness and In Health.” The Grim Reaper had little role in Big Harry’s illness. The Grim Reaper was thwarted by the love, attention and care heaped on Harry by me and our sons. This was no small feat.

Three times I found Harry unresponsive in our bed. Three times I called 911. 

The first time he was admitted to the Emergency Department, we arrived (with red and wet eyes) to find that he had a tube placed down his throat to help him breath. This is also known as life support. He was then moved to the Intensive Care Unit. He was unable to speak but was able to respond to commands of “squeeze my hand, move your feet”, etc. He was diagnosed with flu and pneumonia. After a week, the hospital released him with fluid still in his lungs.

Fast forward three days, Harry was talking but unable to breathe properly, the ambulance took him to ER. He bypassed the ICU and was taken to a regular room. He was diagnosed with pneumonia again.  

During both hospital admissions his blood pressure was allowed to soar, and his sugar/glucose was high.

It is important and interesting to note that although Harry had had diabetes and heart trouble in the past; in the most recent years his heart was normal, and he had no evidence of diabetes. That’s evidence of the family care which I referred.   

He was discharged once again, and I called 911 the next morning. He did not know who I was, he called me Julie. Um Julie. The emergency personnel administered oxygen and he was able to correctly identify me. All is forgiven.

At the hospital, Harry was admitted to ICU again. This third time proved to be too much for the hearts of our 35-year-old sons as they cried that they did not want their dad to die. I tried to help my family by being stoic. 

Harry’s carbon dioxide level was high, and he now had acute respiratory failure and the doctors also determined that he had heart failure because his heart was no longer pumping strongly enough. In a healthy heart, each beat should pump out at least 50 percent of the blood in the left ventricle. Therefore, your ejection fraction should be between 50 to 75 percent to indicate the heart is pumping well and able to deliver an adequate supply of blood to the body and brain.