SPECIAL TO THE MERCURYAs summer drew to a close, David Rhoads, Jr. and his son, Jonathan Rhoads, were completing an outdoor task on their 5-acre property between San Marcos and Wimberley.
“He runs circles around me,” Jonathan said. “He always has a project going on.”
Suddenly, David experienced an all-too-familiar aching and burning sensation in the back of his neck. The symptoms mirrored a past cardiac event that resulted in several stents. He hoped the unexpected danger signs would fade with a nap, but his wife, Rebecca Rhoads, had different plans.
“I just said, ‘let’s go,’” she said. “I knew we could get (to the hospital) quicker than an ambulance could get to us.”
The Rhoads family resides a few miles down a rocky dirt road in rural Hays County, their home nestled beyond a few locked gates. Jonathan drove as fast as he could, weaving in and out of traffic to bring his father to the Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC) Emergency Room.
“A lot of times when you go to the (emergency) room, you dread the thought of it because you know you’re going to be there for hours, and this wasn’t the case,” David said. “They took me immediately into the room and did an EKG.”
Dr. Anthony Cedrone, who had recently moved to San Marcos to serve as CTMC’s full-time interventional cardiologist, entered the room to tell the Rhoads family that David Jr.’s EKG was not normal.
“He told us, ‘I think you’re having a…’, and before he could finish his sentence my dad flat-lined,” Jonathan said. “I couldn’t believe what I just saw. I didn’t think that would ever happen to him or in front of me.”
Jonathan recalls a swarm of doctors and nurses rushing to his father’s aid for a series of shock compressions.
“Watching the staff and how they took care of him, I knew that he would be okay, even though he flat-lined,” Jonathan said. “I knew that he was going to come back. I just had faith in everything that was going on.”
CTMC’s emergency medical team was able to bring David Jr. back to stability, and Dr. Cedrone put two stents in his heart.
Miles down the highway in San Antonio, David Rhoads, III felt his phone vibrating in his pocket but was busy during his first day back to work at Judson Independent School District. When he returned to his office, the secretary gave him the message that his father had suffered a heart attack. “When I started driving over here, I started praying as hard as I could. I wasn’t ready to lose my dad,” he said.
Upon arrival to CTMC, Dr. Cedrone immediately brought David III up to speed on his father’s condition and led the family into the CTMC Cardiac Catheterization Lab to explain in detail the steps he was taking to save David Jr.’s life. “He went the extra mile, and for me that did a lot because I’m very visual,” David III said.
Mary Routh, David Jr.’s sister, also rushed to the hospital when she heard the news about her brother, who she calls her best friend. “I couldn’t ask for a more considerate person than Dr. Cedrone. He’s very personable, very loving, friendly and very concise,” she said. “We are family, and we are glad that Central Texas Medical Center is here to take care of us.”
Although he wasn’t aware of CTMC’s interventional cardiology program at the time of his heart attack, David Jr. calls the technology a blessing.
“There are times that I’ve heard, ‘Go to Kyle’ or ‘Go to Austin,’ but that’s really not the case,” David Jr. said. “This is a good, good facility. The quality of care I got I would say is as good as anywhere I could have gone. I’m glad to know they’re here.”
SPECIAL TO THE MERCURYMaintaining a healthy blood pressure is a constant battle for some people, but it is a fight that they shouldn’t have to face on their own.
There are a network of professionals, family members and friends all ready to help you reach and sustain your health goals.
Two minds are often better than one when trying to tackle any major issue. The same is true for anyone seeking expert medical advice related to keeping their blood pressure at a safe level.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a team-based care approach for blood pressure control, meaning a physician supported by a pharmacist, dietician, nurse and/or a community health worker.
This multi-faceted approach, the task force suggests, improves the management of major cardiovascular risk factors in outpatients, as opposed to a single physician alone.
Your physician is a wealth of information when it comes to finding ways to beat high blood pressure. He or she can provide diet and exercise tips that are customized to your body and medical history.
If you have issues keeping your numbers down through healthy diet and physical activity, your physician can prescribe specific medicines targeted at mitigating high rates.
It is important to be transparent with your doctor about your eating, smoking and drinking habits if you want effective results. The more they know, the more they can help you stay healthy.
We all need help remembering things sometimes. Medication schedules, blood pressure measurements and doctor’s appointments, for example, can be hard to keep track of when you’re busy with daily life.
A journal can help you keep notes on all of these important items and more.
It can also be a valuable tool in sharing your medical history and concerns with your doctor, providing a solid source of crucial, up-to-date information.
SPECIAL TO THE MERCURYStroke is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States, and if you’ve had heart issues in the past, you may be at greater risk.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked or bursts. This cuts off vital blood and oxygen to the brain and causes cells to die.
People who have had heart attacks may be at increased risk for stroke, which is also linked to hereditary factors and lifestyle choices. It is important to act quickly if you feel that you or someone else is experiencing a stroke.
“Time lost is brain lost,” says the slogan of the American Heart Association.
Be sure to make note of what time the symptoms start, as this information could be crucial to medical professionals.
The American Stroke Association wants people to remember the acronym FAST for situations involving a potential stroke. Read what each letter stands for below, and remember to always call 911 immediately if you see these signs and symptoms.Face drooping: If either side of the face is drooping or numb, it’s time to call 911. The American Stroke Association advises that if it is hard to display a straight smile, then face drooping is probably occurring. Arm weakness: Strokes can cause weakness or numbness in the arms, making it difficult to raise them. Don’t brush this issue off as common aches and pains, like so many stroke victims in the past have done. Speech difficulty: Slurred and hard-to-understand speech are definite warning signs of a stroke. If repeating a simple phrase like “How are you today?” is difficult, a stroke could be taking place. Don’t spend very much time assessing the situation, call 911 immediately. Ttime to call 911: Even if any of the above symptoms go away, call 911 immediately if you think either you or someone else may be having a stroke.
Remembering the FAST acronym is a great place to start, but you should also be aware of other symptoms of strokes.
They include sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, sudden confusion, sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, dizziness, loss of balance and severe headache with no known cause. Do not wait for these symptoms to dispel; seek immediate medical attention.
SPECIAL TO THE MERCURYHow do you react to a stressful situation? Do you shut down or lash out? Take to unhealthy habits to deal with the pressure building up inside of you?
How you handle life challenges can have a major impact on factors that have been proven to negatively impact your heart health.
Stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk, including high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating. So step back and take a deep breath — for your heart’s sake.
Bodies react to stress in different ways. You may experience a headache, back strain or even stomach pains if you’re stressed out. Your energy level can be greatly reduced and your sleeping patterns disturbed.
All of these factors can set off a chain of events that leads to a potentially compromised cardiovascular system.
When you’re stressed, your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. Depending upon how long you’re stressed, your body may experience this set of circumstances off and on for days at a time.
And although the link between stress and heart disease isn’t clearly defined by organizations like the American Heart Association, chronic stress may cause some people to depend on unhealthy lifestyle habits, like drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure and may damage artery walls.
Managing stress is a challenge, but a necessity if you hope to be a picture of good health. A few studies cited by the American Heart Association have examined how well treatment or therapies work in reducing the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease, and the results have shown positive links.
The best place to start when dealing with your stress is a qualified professional. Speak to your physician about how you’re feeling. They will be able to refer you to a specialist who can offer effective treatment or preventive strategies.
FROM THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
SPECIAL TO THE MERCURYYou know the risk factors associated with heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose.
But how do you know which risk factors you have? Enter heart health screenings. All regular cardiovascular screening tests should begin at age 20, according to American Heart Association.
The frequency of follow-up will depend on you risk levels and the strategy your physician recommends.
Regular screening can help you detect risk factors in their earliest stages, allowing plenty of time for lifestyle changes or medication that can reduce the chance for heart disease. Check the list below to see what screenings you should be taking.
High blood pressure generally has no symptoms and cannot be found without measurement. That’s why it is labeled the silent killer.
Sixty-eight million Americans (one in three) have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it is important to monitor because of its link to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
The American Heart Association recommends that you undergo fasting lipoprotein testing every five years starting at age 20. This blood test measures total cholesterol – both bad and good – and triglycerides.
Men over 45 and women over 50 may need to be tested more frequently, as could people with other cardiovascular risk factors. Things like high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides can be improved through changes to diet, exercise and medication.
High blood glucose levels put people at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which can increase the chance of heart disease and stroke.
Check with your doctor about undergoing a blood glucose test, especially if you are 45 or older. The American Heart Association urges people to have their level checked at least every three years.