Mother and Daughter spending time together

Mike Martin

Iowa Lutheran Hospital Saves a Heart

Compared to others in their mid-40s, Mike Martin seemed to be a picture of good health. He was a RAGBRAI veteran, had run marathons, and worked out regularly. An avid runner, Mike was in tune with his body and with the help of a heart rate monitor was able to push his workouts to the limit without going too far.

But in the midst of a workout last March, Mike learned that he could not run from genetics. Initially, he attributed the pain in his chest to a muscle pull. Soon, his teeth began to ache and he experienced tingling in his right arm. At that point, he cut his workout short and walked to a friend's house to call his wife, Paula, to pick him up. Still suspecting a muscle pull, he waited until the next morning to see his physician.

After a series of tests - including a treadmill stress test and blood work - it was determined Mike had a heart attack during his run the previous day. He rushed to the emergency department at Iowa Lutheran Hospital, and was soon in the cardiac catheterization lab to have a stent placed in his left anterior descending artery, which was 100% blocked. The procedure was performed by Timothy Hart, M.D., UnityPoint Health - Des Moines Cardiology.

Genetics play a role

Mike says he never much considered his family history when gauging his risk for heart problems.

"The last thing I thought I would have is a heart issue," Mike says. "I never connected the dots between my aunts, and uncles, and grandparents. Now that I dig into it, I can see that my genetics are affecting me."

In fact, genetics provided the only clear risk factor. Mike's cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, triglycerides, and resting heart rate were all within acceptable ranges.

"With my level of activity, I had absolutely no idea that I could be at risk for heart attack," he says. "Nothing seemed to be out of line."

Making Lifestyle changes

Following recovery from the stent placement, Mike entered Cardiac Rehabilitation and began the process of making lifestyle changes designed to optimize his heart health.

"I have drastically changed my diet, and made the effort to reduce my level of stress. My doctor jokes that I'm not a racehorse anymore," Mike says with a chuckle.

Jokes aside, Mike urges others to take stock of their heart health and to learn more about their risk factors.

"You have to take it upon yourself to learn more," he says. "You need to fully understand your own health."