WSFA 12 News and Jackson Hospital are teaming up for a special Tuesday series called "Connections-know your past, protect your future".
It's advice one Montgomery man is taking to heart. His name: Jere Beasley, Jr.
"I came to work one Monday, leaned over my computer and my left arm went to sleep," said Beasley. Considering he'd just run a half marathon the day before, he blamed it on a pinched nerve.
"I was 46 and I had been running for about 4 and a half years."
He was in the best shape of his life, he thought, but when the problem persisted off and on for months a stress test and heart cath revealed otherwise.
"Woke up from heart cath and Dr. Kwan said 'you need surgery'." Not just any surgery, open heart surgery. Suddenly, the fact that Jere's father had undergone the same surgery 13 years prior and his maternal grandfather had a history of heart disease became a red flag in his own medical history.
"For the unfortunate 5 percent, they are extremely pre-disposed and sort of get shafted in genetic programming..." Dr. Kwan says while Jere can't fight genetics he can control his lifestyle.
It's something he wishes he had zeroed in on before the age of 42. "I had not worked out from college to 42," Beasley admitted. "If you have a first degree relative, grandad, father, mother, aunt uncle, sister brother, who had heart disease before 50 or 60, they are twice as likely to develop at early age, and ten times more likely to have coronary heart disease!"
Those numbers are something Jere's five daughters should keep in mind. Knowing your family history will motivate you to stay in shape and get checked out on a regular basis.
There are new tests and new medications to help most people fight genetics and even if you fall in the unfortunate 5 percent like Jere, dealt a bad hand, Dr. Kwan says your lifestyle can make a difference.
"It pays to discuss with parents," Jere says, "Did uncle Fred have a heart attack?"