Lesson from a Granite Shoals Resident: Detect Heart Risks, Symptoms Before a Life-Threatening Incident

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BURNET, Texas – (March 5, 2015) – After watching both parents and too many friends die of heart disease, Granite Shoals resident Ronnie Laborde wants to share his personal experience with the hope that it raises awareness about our country’s No. 1 killer.

Laborde, 76, is a former smoker, but has never suffered any major health problems. When he recently started becoming winded and tired after normal activities, his wife Marsha called the doctor. Tests later revealed he had severe heart valve disease. One artery was 100 percent blocked and another major one was 95 percent blocked.

Doctors told him he was a ticking time bomb.

“I knew something was wrong when the original procedure that doctors were scheduled to perform was immediately stopped and I was transferred to Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin,” Laborde said. “That’s when we got scared.”

Surgeons performed quadruple bypass surgery and Laborde recovered in the hospital for two weeks. He later started cardiac rehabilitation three times a week at Ascension Seton Highland Lakes Hospital in Burnett, where he made a strong recovery.

Charlie Fox, RN, MSN,ACNP-BC, AACC, with the 5 at Ascension Seton Highland Lakes, said most people know what they need to do to cut their risk of heart disease – but getting people to follow through is the real challenge.

“Self-recognition of risks, symptoms, and detection before a life threatening event contribute to survival and recovery with fewer problems,” she said. “Permanent lifestyle changes are a must, and the most important step individuals can take to help reduce the risk of heart disease is to quit smoking.”

  • In addition to smoking, other risk factors for heart disease include:
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diet

Fox stresses that, while February is National Heart Month and the time of year that puts heart disease in the limelight, she wants everyone to think about it year round.

“Know your risk factors and know the symptoms of heart disease. Awareness is one of the best weapons against this often silent killer,” Fox said. “In spite of Ronnie following through with the treatment of his risk factors, he developed heart disease, which emphasizes the importance of staying aware of heart disease all the time.”

Heart Disease Fast Facts (from the American Heart Association):

  • From 2001 to 2011, the death rate from heart disease has fallen about 39 percent – but the burden and risk factors remain alarmingly high.
  • Heart disease strikes someone in the U.S. about once every 43 seconds.
  • Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, killing more than 375,000 people a year.
  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
  • More than 39,000 African-Americans died from heart disease in 2011.