SPOKANE, Wash. – Heart disease is the leading killer in the United States and accounts for more than 600,000 deaths each year.
As part of the “Real Men Wear Gowns” series, KREM 2 is aiming to reduce that number for men that are 50 years and older.
“From my standpoint, I knew I had a strong heart, strong lungs, all of that,” Rob Crick said, who suffered from cardiac arrest.
Crick never thought he would be affected by heart disease because he exercised and had a healthy diet.
It changed in 2014 when he had a sudden pain that made him go into urgent care.
"As soon as I walked in, I went into full cardiac arrest and collapsed and woke up hours later and they had fixed me all up," he said.
Long-time cardiac nurse Jennie Johnson has horrific experiences with heart disease as well. She lost her father to a heart attack when he was 46 years old. Her message about preventing it is a positive one.
“This is fixable,” she said. “This is not cancer. This is a highly treatable problem.”
Johnson brought that message to 2016’s Go Red for Women luncheon in Spokane. The event encourages people to take control of their heart health. Everything she shared that day was also in her book, “Wakeup Call 911.”
Johnson lists five things people can do to prevent 80 percent of heart attacks:
- Quite smoking
- Eat healthier
- Manage your weight
- Do more physical activity
- Control your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol
"So at a minimum, get those numbers checked," she said. She also advocates for a new screening that can calcium deposits in your arteries – or plaque that restricts blood flow to the heart. It is called the Coronary Calcium Scan on the heart.
"So it can tell very simply, do you have any of this plaque building up?” she said. “A small, a moderate or a large amount, and that tells us who we have to worry about."
The scan is quick and does not need any sort of IV or medication. She said not all insurance providers cover the scan but the cost has come down to just a couple of hundreds of dollars for most cases. Johnson believes it is necessary to fight the disease.
"I think it's really important do understand that 50 percent or men and 64 percent of women that die suddenly from a massive sudden death heart attack had no warning it was coming," she said. “It's such a silent disease."