‘Scare’ prompts Phillips to make healthy changes

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Five years ago, Jimmy Phillips was having lunch at the Pig Café in Troy. He felt good and was enjoying the fellowship of friends. Suddenly, he was in a fog. He could hear people talking and he understood what they were saying but he couldn’t communicate. He tried to alert those seated with him that something was wrong but it took a few minutes for them to realize that he was having a medical emergency.

“I had a stroke,” Phillips said. “But I was around people who realized something was wrong. The rescue unit was called, and I was rushed to the hospital. Someone called my daughter and my wife. I don’t know what would have happened if I’d had the stroke at some other place. I could have had a very different experience.”

Phillips had another stroke in the emergency room at Troy Regional Medical.

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“I stayed overnight in ICU and received excellent care,” Phillips said. “I went home with aspirin. I began to really take care of myself.”

That “scare” was not the first Phillips had with his heart.

“When I was 60 years old, I got where I felt bad all the time,” he said. “I had a physical that included blood work. When I got the results, I found out that I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high sugar. I was told to change my diet. I did and, four months later, they were all coming down.”

Phillips said he had his annual checkup each following year everything checked out okay.

“Then, when I had my physical in 2008, my doctor recommended a stress test,” Phillips said. “The doctor found an erratic heartbeat during the exercise and wanted to put a stint in but couldn’t. The left ventral artery was completely stopped up. But, my heart doctor said the feeders were picking up the blood flow and didn’t recommend surgery.”

Phillips’ doctor recommended a regular routine of exercise and he followed the doctor’s order and also began taking a blood thinner.

Then, in 2010, Phillips had a stroke.

“I was doing all the right things, so I didn’t expect for anything like that to happen,” Phillips said. “But I was fortunate not to have to have surgery and I meant I was going to follow the doctor’s orders.”

Phillips continues to have an annual physical and to see his heart doctor each year. His EKGs are good.

He realizes that he must lead a healthy lifestyle, not just for a short while but for all the while.

He walks a mile or two every day. He exercises. He works in the garden and in the flowerbeds. And, he has changed his way of eating.

“I’ve stopped drinking whole milk,” he said. “I don’t eat ice cream. I eat frozen vegetables. No canned vegetables. I eat a lot of stews. I stay away from foods that are harmful to my heart.”

Phillips said he has learned a lot about heart health, especially, since his stroke.

“I know that my heart health is up to me,” he said. “Diet and exercise are two things that I can do to keep my heart healthy. Those are two things that we can all do and that’s a lot of what the Pike County Heart Walk is all about — awareness of heart disease and what we can do to prevent it is a big part of the winning the battle.”

Phillips encourages everyone to participate in the Pike County Heart Walk fundraising campaign, which will culminate on February 19 with the annual Heart Walk at the Troy Recreation Center.

National Wear Red Day is February 5 and is the strong awareness arm of the Heart Walk campaign. “Go Red” T-shirts are now available at the Mapping and Appraisal Office downstairs at the Pike County Courthouse in Troy. The shirts come in long and short sleeves. The long sleeve shirts are $15 and $16 and the short sleeves are $10 and $11, depending on the sizes.