Playing It Safe: A Young Dad’s Close Call with Death

Although Micah Bodine didn’t realize it at the time,  the warning sign he experienced at an August Houston Astros game may have saved his life.

“I was leaving the game with my daughters and I couldn’t make it to the car without stopping to catch my breath. I’d been dealing with heart issues over the past few years and when I drove past Memorial Hermann the next morning on my way to work, I thought, ‘you have to see the doctor.’ So, I did,” says Bodine.

At the Emergency Center at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center,  physicians performed a series of tests on Bodine.  After they found five severely blocked arteries, Bodine underwent an emergency quintuple bypass surgery.

“At age 40, Micah is still a relatively young man. For him to have so many blockages is certainly unusual,” says Dr. Omar Awar, an interventional cardiologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center. “While physicians have several options to consider when treating patients for blocked and clogged arteries, in Micah’s case, the number and location of the blockages made bypass surgery the best option for care.”

While the severity of Bodine’s case is less common, heart disease is not. A new report from the American Heart Association states that heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, and the number of people with heart failure is rapidly rising.

“Not only are we seeing more patients, but we’re seeing more patients who don’t fit the typical stereotype of someone with heart disease. While many of those with heart disease continue to have traditional cardiac risk factors, such as hypertension, obesity and tobacco use, there is a subset of patients that don’t fit this profile. They develop coronary disease at a relatively young age, probably due to a combination of genetic predisposition and a sedentary lifestyle,” says Dr. Awar.

That’s why physicians say it’s crucial to pay attention to your heart health, long before you end up in the emergency room.

“It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle by being physically active and following a healthy eating plan that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich whole grains. People in their 20s should begin tracking their cholesterol and BMI. At age 40, it may be appropriate to have an EKG (electrocardiogram) or stress test to check your heart health,” says Dr. Awar.

“Shortness of breath can be one of the most overlooked symptoms of heart disease because people may associate it with a variety of other causes. Other often overlooked symptoms are nausea and vomiting. Patients may think they have indigestion or acid reflux rather than a heart issue, which delays them from getting the appropriate care,” says Dr. Awar. The American Heart Association also encourages people to recognize the signs of heart disease, which can include chest pain, dizziness, nausea or, in Bodine’s case, shortness of breath.

Since his surgery, Bodine has been dedicated to his cardiac rehabilitation program.

“The rehabilitation hasn’t always been easy. My mind thinks I can do more than I am physically capable of doing. But one thing I know is that I want to live my life the way I want to live it. I don’t want to be in a rehabilitation facility when I get older. I truly believe that all the physicians, nurses and physical therapists I’ve encountered through this experience have the very same goal. Everyone wants me to be in the best physical shape possible,” says Bodine.

The award-winning Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Memorial City offers patients one of the most advanced cardiovascular care facilities in the nation with advanced diagnostic screenings, five cardiac catheterization labs, three interventional radiology suites, electrophysiology labs and minimally-invasive surgical suites. Our team of affiliated specialists provides the full spectrum of heart care, from medical therapy to advanced heart surgery. For more information on the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Memorial City call 713-CARDIAC, visit our Heart Month page.

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Tashika Varma