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Share Your Story: Steve Price

by Christy D. on Monday, February 10, 2014

Steve Price Missouri

I am an active person and exercise regularly...lifting weights, running, biking etc.  I limit fast foods and have a relatively healthy diet.  I have a family history of heart disease.  My father had a triple bypass; my mother has mild congestive heart failure, two stents and hypertension; my maternal grandfather had a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery.
I understood my family risks at an early age and decided to become active in the fight against heart disease.  As a young teacher, I conducted jump rope for your heart events and continued to involve my students and staff in this event after I became a school principal.  Once I became a superintendent of schools in Middletown, Ohio, I joined the local American Heart Association Board.  Currently, I remain involved through my membership and service to the Greater St. Louis Board.
In addition, I began annual visits to my cardiologist at about the age of 45.  My annual stress test always came back positive.
I never thought I would be the one with heart issues.  Boy was I wrong!  At about the age of 50, I experienced some pain in my left shoulder and arm.  I thought it was from weight lifting and ignored the symptoms!!!  The symptoms always seemed to subside until the next physical activity I would do.  This went on for a week with my wife pleading for me to go and at least see my family physician.  While mowing the lawn, the pain came back and I was unable to continue.  I agreed to see my physician, but waited through the weekend to see him on the following Monday.  My physician found nothing immediately wrong.  Given my symptoms however, he wanted me to go directly to the hospital for tests.  I told him I needed to finish some things at work and would go the next day...he wasn’t happy.
I went to the hospital the next day and got on the treadmill.  I was joking with the nurses and physician and the mood in the room was lighthearted.  I informed them that I would probably get some pain in my shoulder after a few minutes of walking, but not to worry, it always went away when I rested (how arrogant and stupid could a person be, but sadly that described me pretty well)
In about a minute, the heart monitor began to register something irregular.  The mood in the examination room changed instantly.  The sat me down immediately (at the same time I’m saying don’t worry it goes away).  They gave me nitroglycerine that instantly gave me a splitting headache.  They informed me they were transporting me immediately by ambulance to Christ Hospital in Cincinnati.  I still didn’t get it!!  I told the physician I could drive myself to the hospital after I stopped back at work to finish a few things.  At that moment, he walked right up to me, looked me directly in the eye and asked me if I wanted to die.  It finally sunk in that maybe this was more serious than I would allow myself to believe.
I made the trip to Christ Hospital where they performed an angioplasty to insert two stents and clear a 99% blockage of the left anterior descending artery (affectionately known as the “widow maker”, because your first heart attack from this blockage is usually your last).  Later that evening, I asked my physician if regular exercise and being in good shape helped prevent me from having a heart attack.  He told me no; I was just one of the luckiest guys in the world.
Because I exercised regularly, had a reasonably healthy diet, knew my family history and was informed about heart disease, I thought I had nothing to worry about.  I became over confident and thought heart disease couldn't touch me.  This was really evident with my cocky and even arrogant attitude with my physicians.  My cavalier attitude almost cost me my life and the opportunity to see my three wonderful children grow up and the simple act of growing old with my wife.
I felt lucky to be given a second chance.  Not everyone gets that chance.  I still do all the things necessary to live a heart healthy life, but I have also gained a much greater respect for a disease that affects the lives of so many people.  I listen to what my body is telling me and don’t hesitate to go and see my physician when something doesn’t seem right.  I listen to him like my life depends upon it.  I try to help inform others whenever possible about the dangers of heart disease and how it impacts so many people beyond just yourself.

I continue to advocate for and support the American Heart Association as I’m convinced the research and work they funded, saved my life.