It could happen to anyone.

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PERSONAL STORIES

 

Heart Disease does not discriminate.  It is the number one killer for both men and women.  We think we are immune because we eat right, we get regular check-ups, and we don’t have any of the symptoms associated with heart disease.  Most of us think that it can’t happen to us…

 

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS HAD A HEART ATTACK?
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DEAN'S LAST DAY

Dean’s love for life involved him in so many things for which he was truly passionate about. There was ice hockey and his dedication to his team -The Red Dogs for the last 15 years. He also loved the San Jose Sharks, which is something special he shared with his daughter, Jordan. He LOVED to BBQ and made some pretty mean ribs and tri-trips! Recently, he began brewing his own beer, Deano’s Mountain Ale.  He loved the outdoors – whether it was hiking, biking, camping, fishing, wake boarding, skiing, or roller blading. Nothing intimidated him. He loved to play Guitar Hero – and secretly wanted to be a rock star.  He loved being a kid and spent many weekends with Grant, taking their monster remote control cars out on the road, or hanging out in the garage building things together.

What Dean loved most was though any time he could spend with Jordan, Grant, and Victoria – vacations, movie nights, karaoke, game nights, and family dinners at home.  He relished with pride of his family.  Dean had a zest for life and adventure like nobody else!

Simply put, Dean was a good man and a good friend with a warm heart and a generous spirit.  He was a loyal, caring man who took amazing care of his family. He is truly missed by all who were fortunate to know and love him.

We all will be forever grateful for the memories we shared with him.

SAL’S LAST DAY

I lost my wonderful husband, Sal, on October 2, 2010.  At the age of 57, suddenly and completely unexpectedly, he died of a heart attack.  He had a complete stenosis of the left anterior descending artery, also known as the “widowmaker” since it is almost always fatal.  The news of his heart attack came as a complete surprise, without warning, and shocked everyone who knew him, and devastated the lives of his family.

To everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him, Sal was a highly successful and respected defense attorney, an amazing and loving father and husband, and the best friend anyone could want.  He led a very healthy lifestyle, was not overweight, and did not smoke.  For six years he had coached our son’s baseball and soccer teams, and the soccer field is where he died.  On the morning of October 2, Sal collapsed as he was chalking the field before a soccer game.  When the call came from the police, I raced to the hospital and learned that they could not save my husband.  What I couldn’t comprehend was how his heart condition got missed.  Only one month before he died, he had undergone a cardiac stress test which came back as normal.  He had been on cholesterol medication which was keeping his cholesterol within healthy limits, and on every level he’d received a clean bill of health.

Since his death, I’ve pored over his medical records, trying to ascertain how a heart so full of plaque could have been overlooked.   I have since learned from Victoria and No More Broken Hearts that a simple, inexpensive test might have possibly saved his life.  If Sal’s heart condition had been identified earlier, he might have had the benefit of treatment before it got to the critical point.

Sal is gone and our lives are forever changed; this fact we are learning to accept as our journey through grief marches on.   But it’s hard not to wonder if Sal would still be here if he’d had the benefit of such a simple, inexpensive, non-invasive CT scan.  I’ve lost an amazing husband, the kids have lost the most loving father, and the community has lost a kind, selfless, and magnificent man.

STEVE’S LAST DAY

The evening of October 1st, 2014, was typical for me and my husband, Steve Hansen—right up until he went out for a run with our dog and never came home. We went out to dinner and returned home in time to watch the Giants win a playoff game against the Pirates. The game ended around 10:00 PM and he turned to me: “I’m going to take Riley for a run.”  OK,” I replied. He would often run through our neighborhood with our golden retriever late in the evening, so I thought nothing of it.  An hour later, I was thinking of every possible excuse to keep from worrying.  Riley must have gotten tired so they are walking but I jumped in the car to look for him anyway.  After searching for 15-20 minutes, I spotted Riley on the dark sidewalk about 5 minutes from our house.

Steve was face down on the concrete, leash still in hand

The darkest moment of my life had come. My beloved husband of 23 years, my best friend, my soulmate for almost 30 years lay lifeless on the pavement from a heart attack

How could this be?  We had done an Olympic triathlon 2 weeks earlier and he had finished well (2hrs 50 minutes). His passing will not ever make sense to me, to our children, to our family or to any of the many people he called “friend.” Steve lived his life with purpose and passion. He loved his Lord with all his heart, loved his family completely, and poured his life into teaching—each student knew their potential and value. For anyone of any age, crossing his path was an opportunity to be encouraged, to laugh, to be refreshed by his enthusiasm.

As his wife and best friend, I was blessed to walk beside him through the joys and trials of having three beautiful children.  We faced many difficult, life-threatening, and challenging times with our special needs daughter Grace but, through it all, Steve remained my rock. He counted on God and repeatedly lifted our family into the hands of our heavenly Father—a legacy clearly seen in the lives of our sons, Zach and Cole. His love, faith, trust, integrity, inspiration, and wonderful sense of humor live on in them.

Physically, Steve did everything to live a healthy lifestyle he knew. He loved sports. He loved to watch and follow pretty much everything in the Sports section, but also loved to participate.  His adult years consisted of running, biking, swimming and hiking outdoors, mostly.  We ran many half-marathons and, in recent years, completed a couple of Olympic-distance triathlons.

He took the training seriously. He pursued excellence, always striving to improve his times and give it everything he had. And, as a result, he was in excellent shape.

However, he had a family history of high blood pressure. From his late 20s, he was treated with medication and, though his cholesterol had always been on the low side, he took an omega-3 capsule daily in the hopes of increasing his HDL (good cholesterol). His EKG was normal—as far as we knew, so was everything else.

It’s difficult to understand how this could happen to a young man with a healthy, active lifestyle taking every possible precaution to protect his health. It’s even more difficult to accept because he was the love of my life, my soulmate.

I continue to research and educate myself about all the strides being made in health care to prevent another “broken heart.” Early detection is the key, including a non-invasive look inside your vessels with a calcium score test. Being aware of and treating external risk factors like weight, diet, cholesterol, and blood pressure are important but, as we know from these stories, it’s not enough. My desire and my passion is to prevent another family from losing a loved one too soon.

Please, please “No More Broken Hearts.”

 

CHUCK'S STORY

Charles (Chuck) Richard Biller worked for Apple for 30 years and was a co-worker of Dean’s at Apple.  After receiving great blood test results pending his annual exam, Chuck died of a heart attack – 2 weeks after Dean on Oct. 15, 2013 and before his annual exam. He was scheduled to attend Dean’s celebration of Life on Oct. 12th but his event happened the evening of Oct. 11th.  He was 66 years old. Chuck’s family’s life has been changed forever.

 

 

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