News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- All month long, News 12 has been introducing you to people who became heart healthy because they needed to be. But here's the thing: 50 percent of people who have heart attacks are healthy with normal weight and cholesterol levels.
Thanks to advanced lipid tests, doctors can predict heart attacks and strokes before they hit you.
Prevention is key when it comes to heart problems, so one couple is learning to be proactive instead of reactive.
Phillip Norris, 46, is a healthy, happy family man. He's eating right, working out and routinely checking his heart -- not because he need to, but because he wants to.
"You can change what's going on with your body when it comes to your heart, so do it. Don't want to wait around until you have a heart attack or stroke," he said.
Norris has already taken three heart screening tests, and while the results haven't been bad, his doctor suggested he go on a low-carb diet.
Norris described the diet as "incredibly hard."
"You don't realize how many carbs you eat until you start looking at the carbs you eat," he said.
He says it helps that the woman who cares about him the most is a registered nurse.
"I've seen huge changes in my husband since he's taken the test. He was a lover of biscuits and french fries, and he's now decided those things aren't as healthy, and he didn't give them up completely, but he learned how to treat them as a treat and not a daily item," said his wife, Registered Nurse Cindy Norris.
Several of Norris' family members have had heart surgery and his father is now on a pacemaker after suffering a heart attack.
"Growing up with that impact in my life, I've always been an exerciser," he said. "An important part of my life because I didn't want the heart disease early in my 30s like my father did."
The Norris family takes a prevention stance -- eating healthy, working out, taking blood tests -- before they are told they have to.
"Hospitals are good at fixing things after it breaks, but it's quality of life ... It's not as great. I'd rather have a good life upfront," Norris said.
When this couple is asked why they chose this path, the answer is simple.
"Quality of life, I want to be around for my wife and my sons and daughters and grandchildren. I want to be able to play and do things with them instead of sitting around because I don't have any energy," Norris said.
Norris' wife says it's recommended that anyone 40 years or older get tested. If you have a strong family history of heart disease, then they recommend that you get tested in your 30s.