Heart Health

Jeff’s Story: Biometric Testing Saved My Life

Heart disease can affect anyone – even those who appear healthy and fit. Jeff Lanser is a perfect example. He’s the youngest of 10 children in a family without a history of heart disease. Jeff watched his weight and worked out five days a week to keep himself healthy. His risk for heart disease was low – but he wasn’t immune to it.  

Every year, Jeff underwent biometric testing offered through his employer. Biometric tests provide an overall snapshot of a person’s health by measuring height, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Every year Jeff’s test results came back normal, until 2015 when his results indicated his triglyceride level was three times what it had been the previous year.

“Every year, my results were in the normal range,” Jeff said. “But my test results in 2015 made me question things. I realized I was also having some chest pressure when I worked out, but it would go away when I slowed down. I didn’t really think anything of it but once I received my test results, I decided to see my primary care physician for a physical.”

Jeff’s doctor reviewed his test results, and everything checked out during his physical exam. Even so, his doctor decided Jeff should undergo a treadmill stress test since he was over 50 years old. Although his doctor wasn’t anticipating any problems, Jeff only made it six minutes on the treadmill before being forced to stop.

“I didn’t feel winded or have any chest pain, but the doctors saw something on the screen and told me I had to stop immediately to sit down and rest,” Jeff said.

 On his way home from the appointment, his doctor called to set up a cardiac catheterization the following day. During the procedure, his doctor found a blockage in one of the main vessels in his heart. This type of blockage is referred to as a “widowmaker” and occurs when a key artery that moves blood to the heart becomes almost or completely blocked. With a 93 percent blockage, Jeff required open-heart surgery.

But, that’s not all his doctors found. During a pre-surgery ultrasound, they discovered two of his heart valves weren’t closing properly, allowing blood to flow backward. In addition to the bypass surgery, Jeff also needed these valves repaired.

After surgery, Jeff was in the hospital for a full week. Although he could barely walk to the door of his room the first day, he quickly made progress. He was out of work for 10 weeks but says he felt good after about eight weeks.

“I did cardiac therapy every day and exercised with a monitor on me,” he said. “My recovery went quickly because I was in shape before this happened. I was able to get back to my previous fitness and can do everything I was able to do prior to surgery.”

In 2016, when it was time to receive his yearly biometric testing, Jeff admits he was nervous. But, his results showed everything was back in the normal range.

“I encourage everyone to get biometric testing to better understand their health,” Jeff says. “I was healthy and fit and didn’t look like the average heart patient. But my doctor told me I would have dropped dead if I hadn’t addressed my blockage. The testing, combined with the physical and stress test, saved my life. It can help others out there who might have heart issues and not know about it.”

Your health insurance provider can help you learn more about biometric testing. Network Health offers workplace wellness programs that provide this type of testing through employer plans. These wellness programs also offer rewards for completing health and wellness activities, such as getting an annual physical and participating in regular exercise. To learn more, visit us online.