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 six-pack?

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!"

I'm 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.

1 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.

2 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 shareholders.

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 heart function.

5 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 rest.

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 hospital immediately."

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 priorities.

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.

heart attack risk image Do you understand the real risks which send you down the road to a heart attack?

heart attack risk image Are you certain that you know how to "stop a heart attack before it stops you?"

heart attack risk image 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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