Michiana man tells near-death heart attack story

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SOUTH BEND February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading killer among both men and women, taking the lives of nearly 600,000 people every year. It's known as the "silent killer," because symtpoms often go unnoticed.

"One in four people will die from heart disease," said Connie Bryan, the CEO and founder of OnSite Health. "So, it is important to make sure you're going to your doctor at least on a yearly basis, so they can identify your high risks. Have your blood pressure checked, make sure you know your cholesterol number."

The most common signs of a heart attack are pain in the chest and arms, fatigue, and shortness of breath. But experts say these aren't always the case.

"A lot of people expect this crushing pain to happen," said Bryan. "They grab their chest and they fall to the ground, and it's obviously a heart attack, but that's not always the case. In fact, there are a lot of symptoms that are very vague."

If you have unusual pain, experts recommend seeing a doctor immediately. Early detection is key to heart disease prevention. Plus, a healthy lifestyle can make all the difference. That behavior saved 39-year-old Antonio Sergio's life.

Sergio had what doctor's call a "widow maker heart attack." He was just 38-years-old at the time, he exercised frequently and ate a healthy diet.

"They were like, 'you're having a heart attack,'" said Sergio. "And I'm like, no I'm not, and they're like, 'yea you are.' I said look at me, I'm fit, there's no way I'm having a heart attack."

Sergio said the pain was debilitating.

"It felt like I had two hands inside my chest squeezing my heart," said Sergio.

Doctors still don't know what caused Sergio's heart attack. It was likely his healthy lifestyle that saved his life. He hopes his story can inspire others to get checked out.

"It just shows you heart attack doesn't discriminate against anyone," said Sergio. "No matter what your size, no matter what your age, it can happen to anyone."

Click here for a link to a free BMI calculator.

Click here for more information about heart health.