One of the twenty testimonials of Il Cuore Grande

Everything is ready for the presentation of Il Cuore Grande, stories of women and men facing the challenge of cardiomyopathies, the book was born around the stories of twenty patients, or their families, edited by the journalist Laura D'Ettole and Professor Franco Cecchi, President of AICARM. Starting in October, the Association will give life to a series of initiatives, starting with the presentation to the public and the press (Villa Bardini, 14 October). As an anticipation for those who have not already had or have obtained the volume, which is distributed free of charge to members who request it, we are publishing one of the twenty testimonials.

Dangerous loves: Salvatore has a new bicycle

On an electric bike, pedal assistedI became aware of my hypertrophic cardiomyopathy early on, at about 11 years old during a checkup performed for cycling sports fitness. Years have passed, today I'm 38. At the time I was a young rookie student who trained constantly also competing in competitive road cycling races. The first alarm bell rang when during the stress test done on steps, the doctor in charge of the visit told me that he felt a strange noise in his heart, like a "murmur". Therefore, he does not give me sports fitness and recommends going to the hospital for a color cardiac echo. After the normal waits to carry out the checks, it is the cardiology chief who carries out the heart ultrasound. He notices a thickening of the wall of the left ventricle, but smiling he says: «Go go run, your heart is fine, this is called the“ sportsman's heart ”».

Time passes and every year at the visit it was always the same procedure: the ASP doctor did not approve the suitability and sent me back for an echo, which was always performed by the same cardiologist, with the same diagnosis, even if the wall thickening grew. Over time, however, he noted that: «If the patient had not warmed up well before a run he would have suffered from excruciating burning in the chest, which he carried for a while. Also, the heartbeat changed, he began to feel small jumps in the heartbeat, as if in a moment the heart stopped ». In other words, they were arrhythmias that in some cases made me feel like I was going to faint. The same process lasts for about six years, while I compete in challenging competitive competitions (even winning them!), until I get to the Palermo hospital "Casa del Sole". After about a week of hospitalization, I discover the bitter truth: the end of the competitive activity and quarterly checks.

From there I start taking the beta-blocker with constant visits, until I meet an expert specialist who at the age of 33 paves the way for me to truly become aware of my cardiomyopathy. He talks to me about the high risk of cardiac arrest and suggests implanting a subcutaneous defibrillator, which I gladly accept, also to protect my family members and my beautiful daughter as well as myself.

At 35, I feel more confident and I'm starting to get back on the bike after almost 18 years. I only went on weekends for about an hour and a half at a time, but after a year, some evenings I start to have heart rhythm disturbances. I consult the same specialist and understand that a patient with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy cannot make intense efforts. I was advised to use a pedal assisted bike and after meeting some members and volunteers of AICARM at the November 2021 course for expert patients in Florence, I stopped using the classic "muscle" bike. I bought a pedal assisted bike, the arrhythmias disappeared and today I ride my bike regularly, without any heart problems.