Was a heart attack lurking in the shadows?
An unexpected six-pack
kept my wife from becoming a widow.
What image popped into your mind when you saw the word
The first commercial six-pack container (shown below) was
brought to market in 1923 by Coca Cola to induce their
customers to take home more of Coke's delicious beverages.
You might be wondering what a Coca Cola six pack has in
common with a heart attack. This website is not about Coke,
(although I do enjoy one occasionally.)
This is about a very different kind of six-pack. A "six-pack
surprise" that could have led to my early demise.
The suddenness of the situation brought memories of Gomer
Pyle (Jim Nabors) during the 1960's Andy Griffith Show. When
Gomer encountered an unexpected problem he would shout out,
"Surprise, surprise, surprise!"
Gene Millen, a Heart Health
Coach and the owner of this website with my wife
Bernie. The first four decades of my business career were in
banking. Then in 1990, at the young age of 59, I received a
surprise that dramatically altered the course of my life.
Here's a summary of my wayward lifestyle
that led to the unwanted six-pack.
If I got the desire to exercise I would lie down until it
went away. I didn't have the foggiest notion of what kind,
and how much exercise my heart needed.
My nutrition motto was "Life is uncertain, eat dessert
first." Trans fats and sugar were my best friends.
3 My job as a community bank president was loaded with
stress, which included dealing with bank directors, three
diverse groups of bank regulators and several hundred
4 I had the mistaken opinion that vitamins and other heart
supplements would just give me "expensive urine." I hadn't
learned that heart supplements such as omega 3 oils,
hawthorn and CoQ10 were essential for energy and optimum
Cholesterol was a mystery to me, and my "doc" said it was
"a little on the high side."
6 Although I didn't realize it at the time, I was headed
down a perilous path towards an early encounter with my
Maker. A fork in the road was looming ahead, and I needed a
guide to keep me from making a wrong turn that would lead to
a "dead end" destination.
"Surprise, surprise, surprise!"
In September of 1990 the stress at work was getting very
intense as the economy worsened. I noticed a little
"tingling" in my chest, which came and went.
"It's probably just caffeine overload," I rationalized, but
a "routine" thallium stress was scheduled, with the
"encouragement" from my wife Bernie, who was more concerned
than I was.
After huffing and puffing on the treadmill for a couple of
minutes, (It seemed like an eternity) the technician
unhooked the wires and guided me to a chair for a welcome
A few minutes later I was ushered into the cardiologist
office. As I sat down he was staring at the report with a
deep frown on his face.
"I don't like what I see here," he
said. "You are a walking time bomb and need to go to the
The results of a follow-up angiogram were not a pretty
sight. Six of my favorite heart arteries were clogged with
plaque, some by as much as 95%. The accompanying sketch
below is an illustration of what can happen if we don't take
proper care of our health.
Surgery was immediately scheduled and Dr. Hugh Tobin, a heart surgeon, at
Valley Heart Associates
sawed open my chest and stitched in a
"six-pack" of arteries and veins (which were cut from my
chest and legs.)
A six-way heart bypass operation isn't a record, but it was
enough to get my attention.
This unanticipated brush with death and my wife's interest
in keeping me alive, jump-started me to change my
I am fortunate and blessed to be alive to tell this tale.
For 30% of the 1.2 million heart attack victims each year
the first sign of a heart problem is sudden death.
Some questions for you to consider.
Do you understand the real risks which send you down the
road to a heart attack?
Are you certain that you know how to "stop a heart attack
before it stops you?"
Do you know the specific things you can do to dramatically
reduce your heart attack risks?
If you are not confident that you can answer "yes" to the
above questions wouldn't it be helpful to have an
experienced guide to lead you down the road to heart health?
Pictured on the left is a 2012 photo of
Gene Millen and his wife and best friend Bernie, your hosts on this journey to a healthy heart and a vital long life.
Gene experienced a heart by pass surgery in 1990 which prompted a change in his career from bank president to heart health coach.
His credentials include several fitness and wellness certifications and starting and operating the Vital Life Center, a health and wellness club for the "over 50 crowd, which was judged # 1 in California and 2nd in the nation for the wellness programs he developed.
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