SAN ANTONIO – The last year or so has been dominated by news of the COVID-19 pandemic, but when it comes to your health you need to also remember heart disease is still a very real danger.
Since February is American Heart Month, KSAT is trying to help make people aware of their heart health.
“I am 46-years-old and I had a heart attack. I didn’t even know I was having it,” Tim Stewart, a heart attack survivor and photojournalist for KSAT12 said. “My wife and I were sitting at a wedding reception and I just got this flop sweat and this burning sensation down my neck and shoulders and it just kept getting worse and worse and worse.”
It’s a scary situation for anyone, and it was terrifying for Tim because, as a father of two, he knows how dangerous heart disease can be.
“My father had just turned 55 when he had the one heart attack that took his life,” Stewart said.
Dr Dawn Hui, a cardiac surgeon at UT Health San Antonio said they often treat people even without risk factors of heart disease. Though heart disease can be genetic and come in many forms, it also may be preventable.
“The good thing is, I want people to to know, that they can empower themselves to change,” Hui said. “In general, you should be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, avoiding fried foods, avoiding a lot of refined processed foods and avoiding very high sugary foods, especially if you are diabetic.”
Hui said heart disease is a major problem in San Antonio, due in large part to a connection with diabetes.
“Unfortunately, with what diabetes does, it is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. And not only that, it can make it difficult to recognize, because people with diabetes don’t have typical symptoms,” Hui said.
Doctors say some symptoms include shortness of breath with everyday activities, swelling in legs, feet and ankles, trouble sleeping when you lie flat and feeling tired.
Stewart said after going through his experience, his advice is to listen to your doctor and listen to your body. His life, however, has since forever been changed.
“There’s astatine cholesterol medicine, and it’s a blood pressure medicine. And it’s a blood thinner. And I’ll be taking three medicines for the rest of my life. However, I hope that my life is a lot longer than 40-something,” Stewart said.
On top of living a healthier lifestyle, he does have some simple advice to everyone out there.
“Don’t take it (life) for granted. I think I did. And I’ll never do that again,” Stewart said.
If you have any questions on heart health, there are resources easily available at the American Heart Association. They can be found by clicking here.