Most of you reading this title are probably thinking â€śThis sounds a bit far fetched and exaggerated.â€ť Others might be thinking it must be some sort of marketing stunt.
Iâ€™m here to tell you it means exactly what it says. If it werenâ€™t for understanding my WHOOP data, I could be dead now.
I wouldnâ€™t be able to write this story. My story. The story about how being in tune with my body and knowing my baseline WHOOP data may have saved my life. I donâ€™t have a horse in this race, Iâ€™m not getting paid for doing this and I certainly donâ€™t want anything for telling you what happened to me. I just want to share my experience with the world.
On Monday, August 24th, 2020, I suffered a severe heart attack. You might say â€śSo what, that happens to plenty of people.â€ť True, but Iâ€™m only 33 years old. Yes, thatâ€™s correct. I suffered a severe heart attack at the age of 33. As if 2020 isnâ€™t the shittiest year already, am I right?
But letâ€™s start at the beginning.
The day before the incident I played our golf clubâ€™s â€śClub Open,â€ť and was not only able to win it, but actually defend my title for the second year in a row. Needless to say I was very excited and happy about it. I had my highestÂ WHOOP strainÂ to date (20.1 on a scale of 0-21), and my mood couldnâ€™t have been better.
The next morning, I woke up with a slight pressure on my chest. Imagine someone sitting on your chest or having a kettlebell put on it. The pressure wasnâ€™t constant, it came and went. I checked my WHOOP data from the night before and saw that myÂ respiratory rateÂ went up from 14.5 to 16.6. I recognized this as a potentially significant deviation from my baseline respiratory rate of 14.3, and knew that if this trend continued it could mean some sort of illness or distress.
Being a big golf addict, Iâ€™d read about a pro on the PGA Tour who had been able to recognize a deviation in his WHOOP data thatÂ led him to getting tested for COVID-19. Obviously, this is where my first thought went as well. There were plenty of people at the tournament and I couldâ€™ve been easily infected–I had to shake hands with the president for collecting my first-place prize, and so on.
And yet in my head I kept saying â€śYouâ€™re overreacting. Donâ€™t be a hypochondriac. You probably just overdid it yesterday.â€ť After taking another nap in the afternoon I didnâ€™t feel that much better. In fact, the pressure I felt in my chest started to become constant, and at around 4:30 pm I began to feel dizzy and disoriented.
I checked my WHOOP data again and realized that myÂ resting heart rateÂ was through the roof. Itâ€™s usually right around 54 bpm, but on this day it had gone from 55 to 69. In addition to that, myÂ heart rate variabilityÂ dropped immensely from 53 to 27. In hindsight, I canâ€™t believe that I didnâ€™t think for one second about having a heart condition–my head was still stuck on coronavirus.
This is the moment I felt strongly that something was off and I decided it was time to consult a medical professional. First I called my brother-in-law who is a nurse, and he immediately told me to go to the emergency room. So I did.
I called ahead in advance (which is required by COVID-19 rules here in Switzerland) and went into the ER. After telling them about my symptoms, everything went really quickly. I waited about 5 minutes and got taken into a room, where already I had a doctor and 3 nurses waiting for me. They started setting an IV and ran an EKG test. This is obviously where it dawned on me that this was not a COVID testâ€¦
After the EKG test spat out its results, I remember distinctly that my doctor said â€śCall the cardiologist and prep the OR.â€ť That was when I finally opened my mouth and intervened. â€śDoes anybody mind filling me in here??â€ť The doctor replied with â€śMr. Fritsche, it was very good that you came in. You had a severe heart attack and we will operate on you right away.â€ť
Obviously, I was speechless and shocked. Never in a million years would I have guessed that at the age of 33 Iâ€™d have a doctor telling me this. Especially since I wouldnâ€™t call myself an unhealthy person. Iâ€™m not overweight and Iâ€™m on the golf course at least 3 times a week. I watch what I eat, also.
After digesting the first shock of the diagnosis, I called my girlfriend (who was still waiting outside of the hospital thinking Iâ€™m having a COVID test), told her the news, and asked her to come in and inform my family.
The rest went by extremely fast. I got rolled into the OR where I had the procedure. The whole thing took maybe 40 minutes. It turns out my coronary artery was completely blocked.
My first night of recovery I spent in the ICU. I remember laying there and thinking â€śIf I hadnâ€™t had my WHOOP, I never would have known about my vitals dropping or rising. I wouldn’t have gone to the ER, and I wouldâ€™ve spent the night at home.â€ť
And according to my doctor,Â I would have died.
My cardiologist told me this after I recovered. He said â€śMr. Fritsche, It was absolutely essential that you came in when you did. I had a case just today where a woman stayed at home for the night and came in the morning. Unfortunately, I wasnâ€™t able to do anything for her.â€ť
So there it is. Thankfully I had my WHOOP data at my fingertips to be able to understand that something might be wrong, and could act accordingly. So you can imagine, Iâ€™m never EVER taking my WHOOP off again!
Below is my heart rate data from that day. My heart attack happened right around 4:30 pm. Itâ€™s also worth noting that myÂ WHOOP recoveryÂ was just 2% that morning, despite the fact that I got a decent amount of sleep the night before.
That is my story.
Iâ€™m happy to report that my rehab is going very well, and Iâ€™m getting healthier by the day. Iâ€™ve even been able to get back out on the golf course! WHOOP has been great for tracking my rehab, as I can follow along as my metrics return to normal.
Thank you for taking your time to read this, and to WHOOP, from the bottom of my heart, Iâ€™m forever thankful for your invention.
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