Before his heart attack, fitness instructor Myron McCloud knew he had untreated hypertension.
McCloud’s blood pressure averaged 150/90 or 166/96 – normal blood pressure is 120/80.
“I just ignored it,” he admits.
“I felt a little discomfort in my lower chest, almost like a pinch or a very hard poke,” he explains. “But it came and went away.”
Heart attacks in men often begin slowly with mild chest pain that comes and goes.
The following day, as he was leaving dinner with friends, McCloud again felt like someone was poking his lower chest. The sensation continued, so a friend took him to the Piedmont Atlanta Hospital emergency department.
“They hooked me up to an EKG [electrocardiogram] machine and that’s when they said, ‘Your EKG shows you’re having a heart attack,’” he remembers.
He was told he had a blockage and needed to go into the cath lab immediately.
“I was very shocked that I was having a heart attack,” says McCloud. “I couldn’t believe it. Here I am, a fitness instructor. I work out daily – anywhere from two to three hours of cardiovascular activity a day and lifting weights three to four times a week.”
The fact that McCloud was in great shape helped him recover from his heart attack easier and faster.
A stent helped open up McCloud’s blocked artery, restoring blood flow to the heart muscle.
Before his heart attack, he admits his diet wasn’t as healthy as his exercise routine.
“It was very high in sodium – I would always sneak in some fried food throughout the week,” he says. “I would salt my food before I even tasted it.”
A high-sodium diet raises your blood pressure and puts extra strain on your heart and arteries.
“That definitely led to my arteries being stressed out and getting blocked,” says McCloud.
He now watches his sodium intake and has started cooking at home to control what goes into his meals.
“Listening to your body is really important,” he says. “Hypertension is definitely something that can become a very serious problem if not treated.”
In fact, it can lead to stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, arteriosclerosis and heart attack.
“I let mine go untreated and even though I was active and exercising daily, I still had that high blood pressure because my diet wasn’t under control,” says McCloud. “And that led to a heart attack.”
To learn more about hypertension and heart attack prevention, visit Piedmont Heart Institute.