Man Survives Heart Attack, Maintains Heart Health - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Man Survives Heart Attack, Maintains Heart Health

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. But there are steps you can take to avoid becoming a statistic.

A Billings man survived a heart attack a year ago while on a hunting trip, and as a result, changed his lifestyle to stay healthy.

"Being a hunter and to other hunters, I understand what we do," said Ron Walter, who was 48 when he had the heart attack. "We go out probably not in our best shape ever and we climb steep hills and we get really excited. And we do all those things that if you have any heart disease it could cause a heart attack."

Walter initially ignored the burn he felt in his chest and continued processing the deer he caught. Then, he was sent to Billings Clinic for a heart attack.

"I think rehab is probably the most important thing that I can do to hopefully live a long healthy life," Walter said.

Physiologists say those who complete a cardiac rehabilitation program are 40 to 45 percent less likely to die from a second heart event. The program teaches nutrition, encourages physical activity, and monitors blood pressure and cholesterol panels.

Walter has been in the program for almost a year and says it's all for his son.

"I have a 10-year-old boy now that I can't keep up with no matter how hard I try. You know, just from the aspect of working out I like to do that with him. But I'd also like to be here."

Walter's father also had a heart attack at the same age. Doctors suggest getting regular check-ups.

"It's one thing that you don't typically see coming on," said Casey Harrod, Billings Clinic exercise physiologist. "You don't see sickness with it. You don't see this over time. You don't see this decline in people's health. It's one day you're doing everything perfectly normal and the next thing you know there it is."

Walter and his family are eating less processed food.

"I feel good. I look as good as I've ever looked even being older than I've ever been and I really enjoy what happens when I do healthy things," he said.

The American Heart Association's annual Heart Walk is Saturday morning. It celebrates survivors and those who have made healthy lifestyle changes.