Persistence = Prevention

Exercise is key.Tom Watson is a semi-retired, engineer with GE Aircraft Engines. He enjoys playing golf, landscaping, and traveling. But all of this was brought to a halt when he started having periodic chest pain. Tom’s pain was similar to what he had experienced after undergoing rotator cuff surgery in previous months. Tom said, “I went through a long period not knowing what I had or what the pain in my chest was. I have diabetes so my doctor checks my cholesterol regularly and my cholesterol was good so I wasn’t really worried about it.” But Tom’s pain continued for a whole year. Tom told his physician about it and, “Everything looked good and I had even passed stress tests but I insisted we look closer at it. I had a chest X-ray followed by a CT scan which then showed calcium in my coronary arteries.” Tom’s persistency is what prevented his condition from worsening into a heart attack. In Tom’s words, “Everyone has different symptoms. Now I know what to look for.” Tom’s treatment at UC Medical Center included the placement of two stents to open the blockage in his artery.

Following treatment, Tom went through the Daniel Drake Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at UC Health, West Chester. Over the course of 36 visits, he attended educational classes on a variety of topics and exercised while therapists monitored his heart rate and heartbeat. Tom said, “It’s a nice feeling to know you can have a good, hard workout knowing that someone is watching over you. It’s good to know my heart muscle is getting stronger and it feels good to exercise.” Tom rotates among the treadmill, bike, elliptical, and arm and leg machines.Tom Watson stretching before exercise.

Tom said, “The therapists and nurses who run the program–Dana, Cindy, Chris and Jaime–are all very good people, very nice…they treat us well and they genuinely care about us.” He believes the program is worthwhile and he’s glad he did it. He said while, “Life hasn’t changed a lot, I’m more aware of what I eat and I’m exercising more now. So I definitely feel better.”

When asked what advice he’d give others, Tom said, “If you’re feeling chest pain, jump on it! Get it checked out to be sure you’re ok. I’m sure my persistence with my doctor prevented a heart attack. If I had waited any longer, I would have damaged my heart or worse. That’s my message for people.”

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