Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in this country and it's becoming more prevalent in younger patients. All the more reason to get screened especially if you smoke, have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and are diabetic. Nancy Naeve Brown met an Aberdeen man who's heart urged him in to making some life style changes sooner rather than later.
Scott Cunningham from Aberdeen is a 48 year old extreme bicyclist. When he's not doing races across states, he's on his bike almost 5 days a week in the summer. He thought he was perfectly healthy, until suddenly one day last year on his lunch break from work, chest pain stopped him in his tracks.
Scott says, "I was thinking here I've been on my bicycle for the last three summers, ridden a thousand miles each summer and I'm supposed to be in pretty good physical shape. All of a sudden my heart starts going crazy and I don't know what's going on. Is it a heart attack? Is it not a heart attack? I don't know."
He went to the Avera St. Luke's ER and after Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Navin Gupta ran him through a battery of tests and an angiogram Scott found out he was not having a heart attack, but it was a wake up call.
Dr. Gupta with Avera Cardiology Specialists in Aberdeen says, "He is a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. Left unchecked, probably within the next several years, he would have been very high risk for having a coronary syndrome."
Dr. Gupta saw he had plaque build up in his arteries, but not critical enough to land him in Avera St. Luke's cath lab for a stent.
Dr. Gupta says, "Heart disease is very common at all ages of the population. He is very fortunate he came in. It could have been much more serious. Fortunately for his situation we could treat it medically and tend to his risk factors and he's done an outstanding job of changing his lifestyle."
Scott doesn't smoke, doesn't have diabetes and his blood pressure wasn't excessively high. However, his daily calorie intake was high though.
Scott says,"My diet was traditional. I'd eat whatever I want, whatever amount I want. So I went more to the greens, heart healthy foods, cut back on pops, read labels now when I go grocery shopping."
With a healthy diet and year-round exercise he's lost 30 pounds.
Scott says, "I feel great. I feel a lot better."
Now instead of blindly thinking he's healthy, he knows he is. He thanks a warning heart episode and Dr. Gupta for keeping him on the right track and out of the OR.
You can take a free online Heart Health Assessment at http://www.avera.org/st-lukes-hospital/services/heart/index.aspx