February may be the month of love, but it’s also national heart month, and the Center for Disease Control says it’s a perfect time to learn about heart disease and heart health.
At Beatrice Community Hospital, 75 year old Steve Lorenz exercises three times a week as part of his rehabilitation after having blockages in his arteries in 2018.
Lorenz said he has a history of heart problems on both sides of his family, so he’s closely checked his blood pressure and been on a statin drug since the 1980s.
In November of 2018, Lorenz had chest pains, but put it off until after the holidays. On January 2, 2019, Lorenz had bypass surgery for four cardiac arteries with blockages of 100%, 80%, 75% and 70%.
Linda Lindell, registered nurse and cardiac rehab coordinator at BCH, said it was amazing Lorenz didn’t have a heart attack.
“He was lucky, and I’m glad…but you don’t always get six weeks. Much better to go and find out it was your gallbladder or something,” Lindell said.
Lorenz went through the rehab program, where he gradually built up his heart rate working on a treadmill and step machines, and is currently on a maintenance program through BCH.
“Physically, right now I’m in much better shape than I have been for probably a long time,” Lorenz said.
“He’s made a lot of progress…He’s a very good patient in that he’s very regular three days a week, and he exercises on his own three other days a week,” Lindell said.
Lindell said the seven major risk factors for heart disease can affect anybody, and include being overweight, smoking, having diabetes, lack of exercise and high cholesterol, blood pressure and stress levels.
Lorenz said having heart problems did not surprise him, but the sudden onset of chest pain did.
Lindell said chest pain is a common symptom for men, that it can be on either side as well as either arm, and other symptoms include shortness of breath or feeling sick to one’s stomach. She explained that women have different symptoms, which include a sudden onset of shortness of breath and pain between the shoulder blades.
“When I say pain it can be squeezing, indigestion, pressure, tightness, or an elephant on the chest feeling... ‘I used to be able to walk up these stairs and now I can’t.’ That should get you to your doctor,” Lindell said.
Lindell said if an individual is feeling these symptoms, to sit and do nothing. If they persist for longer than two minutes, Lindell said to call emergency services.
“People often worry ‘they’re going to make fun of me if I came in just because of this.’ No, we’re not. We’re going to check you out because you can’t know without somebody doing your lab, an EKG and heart monitor and blood pressure and all of that if this is something that’s really important or not,” Lindell said. “If you’re having chest pain it is really important to go to the emergency room right away.”