Healthy lifestyle doesn’t always outweigh heredity

Heredity outweighs lifestyle choices
When William W.’s primary care physician informed him that both his good and bad cholesterol were too high, he was surprised.

William and his wife eat very little meat, watch their weight and exercise regularly, so he resisted taking prescription medication and initially tried to lower his cholesterol by making healthy choices. Unfortunately, his cholesterol continued to pose a problem, so his primary care physician prescribed cholesterol statins.

William then went to cardiologist, Kevin Thompson, MD, who started him on Crestor to lower his cholesterol. This time, William stopped taking his medication because the Crestor made his joints hurt.

“My wife and I take this step class, which I hadn’t done in a while because our summer was busy with a family wedding,” said William. “I was working hard and sweating lots. Then, I went to get a mat and passed out as I was straightening it.”

When William came to, he was surrounded by his wife, the instructor and other class participants. “Fortunately, a Salem Health pharmacist and a retired doctor were in the class. I didn’t just pass out, my heart stopped. They shocked me with the defibrillator to revive me.”

An ambulance rushed William to Salem Health where Dr. Thompson put in two stents to open up blocked arteries in his heart. He also started William on blood thinners, aspirin and cholesterol medicine. Two days later, William was able to go home.

“I really enjoyed myself at the hospital,” recalled William. “I thought the food was excellent, the room was beautiful and everyone was as pleasant as can be. The pharmacist who helped save my life even visited me while I was in the hospital.”

The heart attack made William realize that healthy eating and exercise don’t always offset heredity. Following your doctor’s orders and taking prescribed medications are important.

William switched to Plavix after going off Crestor and takes his cholesterol medication religiously now. “I went for a follow-up EKG (electrocardiogram) to see if there was any damage to my heart and there was absolutely none,” William said. “I feel better now than I did before I had the heart attack.”