World traveler Lisa King is an energetic woman. She can withstand the 120 degree heat of Egypt. She can power through the 10,000 foot altitude of Ethiopia. But King’s world adventures could not have happened without taking care of her heart.
King’s father suffered a heart attack at age 40. However, this family history did not seem to phase King. “My family history was my family history, and I ignored it,” she said. King felt fairly healthy, and any symptom of heart disease she felt could be attributed to another cause.
It was not until a physician referred her to MedStar Washington Hospital Center cardiologist Roquell Wyche, MD, that King realized the family history would become part of her history.
Dr. Wyche discovered that King had high blood pressure and a chart-topping total cholesterol of 250 mg/dL. King’s arteries were dangerously clogged. Two weeks after her initial appointment with Dr. Wyche, King was in the operating room having angioplasty.
Communicating with her doctor and making some key lifestyle changes has allowed King to become healthy enough to participate in strenuous activity, such as traveling.
“My cholesterol went from 250 mg/dL to 112 mg/dL, and it wasn’t easy. That was a lot of hard work, and I gave up a lot of things that I thought were fun, but now, I can’t imagine doing,” said King.
One of King’s biggest changes was trading carry-out meals for home cooked meals, made with fresh produce from her urban garden. She walks to her community garden a half mile from her home.
King’s brush with heart disease has given her a new outlook on life. “I say I bought myself a whole lot of years, and I think I am going to have fun with them. I would say you can overcome your genetics, but you have to work at it.”
“Listen to Your Heart” Message for Women: It's never too late to get heart healthy. For more tips, click here.
Listen to Your Heart: Women at Risk is a public service campaign co-sponsored by NBC4 and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.