We usually talk to reporter Paul Eisenstein about cars — he's publisher of the car news website The Detroit Bureau. But when he mentioned he'd recently had a brush with death, we wanted to know more.
"One of the worst things you can imagine is having a doctor walk into your room and say...you have serious heart disease."Paul Eisenstein
It turns out that Paul is like many middle-aged Americans — after his doctors did some tests, they told him he had high cholesterol and he was at risk of a heart attack.
Paul's father, his grandfather and his uncle all died from heart attacks before the age of 60, but as Paul puts it, he ignored his doctor's advice and went on with his life and his bad habits.
Then last summer he started feeling tired.
He was traveling with his wife in Europe and when he got home he called his doctors.
He was about to go on a business trip to China but they advised him to wait to take more conclusive tests. They found that Paul had blockages in three major arteries.
He had six emergency stents put in.
"I have to tell you, one of the worst things you can imagine is having a doctor walk into your room and say, 'Paul I have to tell you, you have serious heart disease,'" said Eisenstein, who has since lost 20 pounds and no longer eats fried foods.
Paul realizes he should have listened to his doctors the first time. But the stress test and EKG did not show blockage in his heart.
Dr. Christopher Cannon, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston says the blockages in Paul's arteries were likely starting to develop years before, but not enough to show up on these tests. He would suggest a more conclusive test known as a coronary calcium scan.
"If there's cholesterol, there's calcium right next to it, so the more calcium you see, the more blockages in the heart arteries" Cannon told Here & Now.
Eisenstein considers himself lucky to be alive and he says he feels better than ever.
"Almost on a daily basis I notice improvements in stamina and how far I can bike and so on." Eisenstein said. "Suddenly 60 doesn't feel like the end of my life, it feels like the beginning."
This segment aired on June 14, 2013.