I had my first heart attack at the age of 51 about an hour after a hard game of squash. Up to that point I was in excellent health and maintained my fitness by running 10Ks and half-marathons. I knew about my family heart history but like many thought, ’I’m fitter and healthier with a much better diet than Dad had’ believing it wouldn’t impact me.
But that changed an hour after a squash game in 2004 when I felt nausea, dizziness, sweating, and threw up several times. Twenty minutes later there was no pain but tightening in my chest. Being a guy I made a practical decision to drive 17 miles home to my wife. Do not do this.
Once home the paramedics were called quickly and I started receiving medical attention. The great work they do includes communicating with the hospital so they are prepared to receive you and this can be life- saving.
They put paddles to my chest in the wagon leading to a stent in RCA. Home lunchtime Wed. I went back to the gym Saturday to ramp up my fitness slowly.
In 2005 I experienced a similar event and had another episode in 2012. I am very fortunate to survive these events and feel compelled to share my story and help others.
I have made it my mission to talk with groups of people to help them learn the risk factors and warning signs associated with heart disease – especially men! I have found that guys have a terrific ability to ignore warning signs and not admit when their body is telling them something is wrong.
I explain the importance of good nutrition and exercise. But I also explain the critical role that genes and family history play in one’s risk for heart disease. My dad died at age 59 from cardiovascular disease after three events. His dad also died at 67 from CVD. My brother had a double by pass at age 49 and is thankfully still living at 76.
My message is simple: know your risk, know your numbers, and don’t ignore warning signs. Listen to your Doctor and act on their advice. Your loved ones and friends will thanks you.
While I have made many presentations over the years I recently made a trip to the New Mexico Capitol to share my story with lawmakers. With the help of heart and stroke healthy legislation we can continue to not only raise awareness but improve effective systems of care for patients.
I look forward to sharing my story with anyone willing to hear it and encourage you to share your voice in any way you can.