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THE TELLTALE HEART
Dan Levin
May 20, 1985
Was the chest pain the author felt while running a sign of serious heart trouble? Trying to find the answer cost him many sleepless nights—and $8,983
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May 20, 1985

The Telltale Heart

Was the chest pain the author felt while running a sign of serious heart trouble? Trying to find the answer cost him many sleepless nights—and $8,983

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I thought, "Great, I'll die famous."

"You're not running now, I gather," he said.

The implication was disturbing.

"I ran yesterday, six miles," I said. "I felt fine."

He didn't respond.

"I held back," I hastened to add. "At the slightest sign of...." I had never encountered such eloquent silences. I threw out Scheidt's "inconceivable" remark, the nearest thing I had to a coup de grace.

"There are some terrible inconsistencies here," he said. "A guy as healthy as you...." Mordkoff wanted to show my tomograms to a colleague at Sinai, "one of the world's experts in evaluating thalliums." It was late in the day, but I took the tomograms to Mordkoff's office in a cab. He grabbed them from me wordlessly, rushed out to Park Avenue in his lab coat and jumped into another cab.

We spoke the next morning. "It's so unusual," Mordkoff said, "to have this many deficits in the thallium—[the colleague] and I agree on that—this many things wrong in the Wall Motion and have that great a stress test. I would go and do another Wall Motion before having an angiogram. Let's just do this one confirming test."

I asked, "Does my having an angiogram trouble you?"

"I hate to subject you to the risk, as small as it may be," Mordkoff said. "You can die from an angiogram. You can have a reaction to the dye or have a heart attack. These things rarely happen, but you certainly don't want to take the chance with someone who has a healthy heart."

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