Smart Heart: Man believes heart attack saved his life

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Robert Brown, 65, has always liked cars.

"I had an old '57 Chevy," he said as he pumped the pedals of an elliptical machine.

He's been spending a lot of time at the gym lately. Instead of working on the muscle cars he loves so much, he's working on his muscles.

Brown is paying special attention to a very important one that recently stopped working.

"I was washing the car on one of those hot June afternoons," he remembered. "I was getting really tired, so I sat down and rested for a while."

His chest felt tight, so he took an Aspirin. The feeling passed.

"I didn't think anything about it. I thought maybe I got dehydrated."

After all, he's seen cars overheat, too.

Instead, there was a lot more going on underneath the hood.

"About two weeks later, my mother had a doctor's appointment, and it was in the same building as my doctor, so I just stopped by and asked," he said.

A cardiologist referral and stress test later, he learned he'd had a heart attack.

He never even had a clue.

"It was a wake-up call. It really was," he said.

That wake-up call has been waking him up early ever since. Three days a week, you can find him at University Hospital's Cardio Rehab Facility. He gets here before some people are even out of bed for the day.

"It's probably the best thing I've ever done because I am not that disciplined when it comes to exercise."

At first, the program was doctor's orders, but after he graduated, Brown kept coming back for more.

He'd rather spend time in this part of the hospital than on an operating table.

"I might just put myself back into the same situation if I didn't come to exercise," he admitted.

He knows his own body is a lot like the muscle cars he loves so much. They only run if you take care of them, so he's making sure he's taking care of himself, too.

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