Lovelace cardiologist shares warning signs of heart disease

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Heart disease remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States. A local cardiologist is helping spread awareness and preventative tips for American Heart Month.

Heart disease is known as the ‘silent killer.’

“I never felt it. Didn’t know it, didn’t have a clue I had a heart attack,” said Paul Jones.

He is lucky to be 82 years old after his heart attack more than five years ago.

“I thought I was in really good shape. That’s the problem. I was walking every day, seven days a week,” said Jones.

He was surprised, but his silent attack is not rare.

“One out of three people who presents with a heart attack has no symptoms at all,” said Dr. Michael Gurule, a cardiologist at Lovelace Health System.

He said adults of all ages can have some sort of heart disease.

“What happens to most people is they get coronary disease. They have a history of diabetes, high blood pressure. Smoking is, unfortunately, the worst one,” said Dr. Gurule.

Most people won’t know their heart is in trouble until a heart attack happens. He said there are red flags known as angina symptoms that warn people of a possible heart attack. However, not everyone gets a clear warning.

“When you have that chest pressure, I’m sorry to say that only happens one out of three times,” said Dr. Gurule. “The second group is going to feel something, but they’re going to unlikely to think it’s the heart. It’s going to feel like a jaw discomfort. It’s going to feel like indigestion. I’ve had people who went to the dentist because they were having a toothache.”

He said the scariest group is people like Jones — who get no warning.

Gurule recommends for people to check into their family heart history, get screenings, receive a stress test, exercise and cut out unhealthy habits like smoking.