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Reading your Heart's Warning Signs: May 13, 2012

Frank Messina had the warnings signs, some he recognized, others he didn’t, all pointing toward heart trouble.

“I have a family history. My father and my mother had heart conditions.”

And he was about to carry on the family tradition.

“We were at a campsite and I started to get chest pains and then they rushed me to the hospital,” says Messina.

Frank suffered a minor heart attack and doctors told him to change his ways.

“We always work on primary prevention and secondary prevention. So in people that have coronary disease we like to prevent a second event from happening,” says Dr. Brian Taschner, a cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

While heart problems may surprise the patient, doctors find it was usually a long time coming. They’ve identified several key risk factors, things that can make the difference between life and death.

“Monitoring patients early for things like high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol. We evaluate their family history, their smoking history,” says Dr. Taschner.

One of the biggest factors is our super size.

“As your body mass index increases we see a higher instance of cardiovascular events, diabetes, high blood pressure,” says Dr. Taschner.

Frank is a work in progress, taking healthy steps for his family’s future.

“I got the kids together and I made a promise, I said ‘I’ll try’ and they said ‘do it dad’.”

It boils down to not only reading the warning signs but heeding them as well.