American Heart Month: how you can avoid heart disease

American Heart Month: how you can avoid heart disease

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - For the last couple of months, Bob Turner has been in recovery mode, after a triple bypass open heart surgery in November 2017.

"My arteries were about 80% clogged, and they told me you need something done if you're going to make it," said Turner.

Due to his family's health history, Turner says he has consciously maintained a healthy lifestyle.

He says he never showed or felt symptoms of heart disease but credits the East Texas Medical Center's 'My Heart First Program' for his early detection.

"I thought regular diet and exercise was going to take care of it all but that was not the case," said Turner. "I never realized by calcium score was building up over time."

During the 'My Heart First' Program 7 different types of heart screenings are done they range from a cholesterol check to checking the arteries in your ankle.

That's when Tuner's high calcium was spotted. "Mine was 1,500," Said Tuner.  "From 1 to 100 is OK, but [doctors] like it to be less than 50. So when they saw 1,500 they were concerned."

According to the American Heart Association, 2,000 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day.

ETMC's Chief of Cardiology, Dr. Thaddeus Tolleson says the symptoms are sometimes there for some patients.

"It's described as chest heaviness, chest pressure," said Dr. Tolleson. "It feels like someone is sitting on your chest and it goes to your left arm and jaw. Those are signs of heart disease or a heart attack."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

Dr. Tolleson also says it's never too early in age to start thinking about your heart and taking the preventative measures.

"Making healthy lifestyle choices in terms of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, limit carbohydrates, and sugar. Be active," said Dr. Tolleson.

Turner's bypass surgery was a success and he is on his way to a full recovery.

He says he is thankful that a tragedy was prevented "if you haven't done the calcium test, do it," said Turner. It comes out 0 to 50, then that is good for you, but if it comes out elevated, you get to prevent a heart attack."

Medical experts suggest you work with your healthcare team and get a checkup at least once each year, even if you feel healthy.

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