A common misconception about heart disease is that it only affects the elderly.
But heart disease can affect both men and women of any age. In fact, heart disease is becoming more prevalent for those under the age of 60.
Statistics show that cardiovascular disease affects 40 percent of both men and women ages 40-59.
For that reason, it’s never too early to take care of your heart. Just ask Keith Stanley, who at the age of 45, discovered that he had 99 percent blockages in two arteries of his heart.
Stanley, crane operator and avid motorcycle rider from Houma, said he never thought he would be at risk for cardiovascular disease, especially at his age. “I knew my dad had it, but without any other signs, I really never thought about it,” he explained.
Through routine visits and blood work with his family doctor, Stanley learned that he had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He was prescribed medication to keep these risk factors in check. However, it wasn’t long before Stanley began to experience chest pains. “It was pretty bad,” he said of the pain. “It got to the point that I could always expect the chest pains no matter what I was doing.” When he and his family doctor realized that the pain was not subsiding with medication, he was referred to Cardiovascular Institute of the South for cardiovascular testing.
Stanley said that he knew he could trust CIS and its founder, Dr. Craig Walker. “I had heard about Dr. Walker,” said Stanley. “It’s his reputation that really got me to him.”
When Stanley came to CIS for his first visit, he received a treadmill electrocardiogram (EKG) stress test, which led to further testing including a calcium score, echocardiogram, and carotid ultrasound test on the same day. Each test indicated potential blockages in Stanley’s heart.
As a result, Stanley was scheduled for an angiogram on the next work day. An angiogram is a common non-surgical procedure that uses x-ray imaging and dye to see the arteries of the heart more clearly. This procedure allows physicians to determine the presence or absence of blockages in the arteries, as well as how the heart muscle is functioning and if blood is flowing properly through the heart.
During Stanley’s procedure, Dr. Walker located blockages in two major arteries of his heart— both of which were 99 percent blocked! Dr. Walker placed stents in these two areas to keep the vessels open and allow full blood flow back to Stanley’s heart.
After the procedure, Stanley noticed a significant improvement in his health. "I didn’t feel any pain after the procedure, and certainly not any more chest pain,” he said.
Stanley said he always thought he had lived a fairly healthy lifestyle. “Married life had me eating healthy,” he laughed. “And I had implemented a few lifestyle changes since I learned my cholesterol was high." However, Stanley did have one major, modifiable risk factor — smoking. But he had no idea that he was in danger of having cardiovascular disease, especially at the age of 45. "Until you have a reason to go get something checked, you just don't know," he said.
To monitor his health, Stanley intends to visit CIS regularly for checkups and screenings. His experience shows that cardiovascular disease can strike at any time and at any age. It’s never too early to take care of your heart. And with heart disease, there may be no symptoms until a life-threatening cardiac event takes place, such as a heart attack or stroke. That is why it is important to determine your risk factors and take preventative measures to lessen your risk.
“The key to effectively prevent heart disease is education,” said Dr. Walker. “Anyone with risk factors, such as family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking, should consider the possibility of having heart disease regardless of the presence of symptoms.”
The best way to fight heart disease is to prevent it. If you think you may be at risk, call CIS today for a visit with one of our cardiologists.
Stanley is thankful that he came to CIS when he did. “I most definitely recommend that others get checked,” he said. “They have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”
CIS is one of the most respected groups of cardiologists, representing nearly every specialty in heart and circulatory medicine. With a team of nearly 500 dedicated team members, CIS serves communities throughout Louisiana, as well as national and international patients, at its 13 clinics. CIS consistently positions itself at the forefront of technology by providing the most up-to-date technology coupled with compassionate care. This mission has guided the institute for more than 28 years of service to south Louisiana. For more information about CIS, call 1-800-425-2565 or visit www.cardio.com.