Hallettsville friends changing lives after suffering heart attacks
By BY KELDY ORTIZ - KORTIZ@VICAD.COM
Feb. 13, 2013 at 9 p.m.
Updated Feb. 13, 2013 at 8:14 p.m.
Hallettsville residents Jimmy Mikes and Glenn Leopold are best friends who have helped each other out during tough situations.
But nothing prepared them for their latest experience.
In a span of five days in late January and February, Mikes, 51, and Leopold, 49, each suffered heart attacks. Neither had prior medical conditions that would have caused them to suffer a heart attack.
But since their recent encounters, Mikes and Leopold have grown closer. Their goal is to not only help their own health but also others.
During February, which is heart month, they are working to help others become more aware of heart disease.
Dr. Kurtis Krueger, an interventional cardiologist who treated both patients, was surprised just days after seeing them.
"It was uncanny how similar they both were," Krueger said. "Both of them had blockage in the heart artery."
Causes for heart problems can range from things such as smoking, physical stress or being active in cold weather.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists heart disease as one of the top causes for death in the United States.
Leopold said he and Mikes are in the process of changing their health for the better.
"We keep each other in line," he said. "We have been walking (and) rehabbing. I've lost a few pounds, and (Mikes) has too."
Mikes said he was not seeing his doctor as much as he should have prior to the attack. He's hoping that others will learn from him.
"Most people ask us about it, and I tell them we're changing our lifestyles. We go to our local track. We see quite a few people doing the same thing we're doing."
Krueger said changes people undergo after experiencing a heart problem varies from person to person. But, he said, it is important to focus on resolving future situations.
"Focus on risk factors," he said. He explained that although a person may have never had a heart attack, they could in the future.
"It is unpredictable," the doctor said.
While this was a learning but scary experience, both patients are trying to live healthier, similar to their animals.
"We take such good care of our animals, and we're not taking care of ourselves," Leopold said. "You can't take life for granted."