Healthwatch 16: Even Those in Great Shape Should Know about Heart Disease

COVINGTON TOWNSHIP -- Heart disease is the number one killer of adults--men and women--in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Taking care of yourself, eating right, and exercising can certainly help ward off some risk factors for heart disease, but a man from Lackawanna County wants to remind you being healthy doesn't mean you're in the clear.

Glenn Khoury of Covington Township is 54 years old and in great shape. He loves spending time on the water, boating, water skiing, jet skiing. But his true love is mountain biking, sometimes 12 to 15 miles at a time.

"It was the beginning of the season. I wasn't getting out as much, I thought maybe I was just out of shape," Khoury said.

He said once back in 2015, he felt a weird symptom.

"I was mountain biking two summers ago and felt like I was breathing in cold air," he recalled.

Cold air, even though it was an 80-degree day.

Considering Glenn's family history of heart disease and high cholesterol, his family doctor sent him to a cardiologist, Dr. Michael Kayal.

Two days later, Dr. Kayal inserted two stents into two very blocked arteries -- a 60 percent blockage in one and a 90 percent blockage in the other.

Glenn's case was critical, according to Dr. Kayal, from Geisinger Cardiology of Scranton.

"Quite critical, I'm glad he got the care timely," Dr. Kayal said.

Glenn had symptoms again a year later, which led to a second stent procedure. But with monitoring and medication, he's able to get back to doing the things he loves.

Dr. Kayal applauds him for being mindful that something was wrong.

"Even though you may be in great shape, if you're dealing with new symptoms or not feeling quite right, something is off, get it taken a look at," the doctor advised.

And Glenn's wife Jennifer says she has learned to face a few fears, too. The more they know the better.

"Dr. Kayal said, 'I'd like to have a cath in 48 hours.' I said, 'There has to be something else. That's too scary!' But thank God. The next mountain bike ride may have been his last mountain bike ride," said Jennifer Luke-Khoury.

Dr. Kayal explains that heart attacks can feel different in men and women. Men feel more pressure, heaviness on their chest. Women notice more heartburn, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

That's why he says education about heart-related symptoms is key.