In honor of February being American Heart Month, AdventHealth patient, heart attack survivor and "American Ninja Warrior" contestant Vinny Tapia was recognized at the Orlando Magic game on February 12.
Our community proudly supports Vinny as he continues to heal and work toward returning to his "American Ninja Warrior" training. His incredible story is a reminder of how important it is to stay on top of your health and wellness at every age, no matter your lifestyle or activity level.
In his early 40s and in above average physical health, Vinny was in the process of training for his first appearance on the television show "American Ninja Warrior." The show features hundreds of competitors who attempt to complete strenuous obstacle courses of increasing difficulty. Just over a year into his training, Vinny started experiencing discomfort in his chest and abdominal area.
Vinny had just finished training for an obstacle course — which was proven to be one of the more difficult courses — when he started to feel pain that he compared to a pulled muscle. He went to his car to sit in the air conditioning and try to cool down, giving him some relief, so he felt well enough to return to his course training. But the pain returned as he continued trying to train. He went about his day, not thinking much of what he thought was a pulled muscle.
Then, while on his way to work later that day, Vinny was sitting in traffic when the pain returned. This time he wasn’t doing any physical activity when the pain cropped up, so he started to get concerned. Vinny made his way to the emergency room at AdventHealth Altamonte Springs where he first had an electrocardiogram (EKG) that showed some alarming signs.
Vinny said the nurses expressed surprise that he was awake and able to talk, given the condition he was in. Immediately, he was rushed to the cath lab to have a thin, hollow tube called a catheter inserted into his heart. This was to determine how well his heart was functioning. Thankfully, the team of specialists was able to find and remove a clot that was in the main heart valve — causing what’s called a widowmaker, or a heart attack that occurs when there’s 100% blockage in the left anterior descending artery.
Today, Vinny is lucky to be back to training for his "American Ninja Warrior" competition. Before his heart attack, Vinny’s mission was to train and compete in NBC’s popular series. Now, he has another mission, too — to educate individuals and support cardiovascular patients like him by raising money through AdventHealth Foundation Central Florida.
Vinny believes “every day is a blessing” and he dedicates his time using his personal story to raise awareness about the risks of heart disease. After his experience, he now recognizes how something like this can happen to anyone. You too can join Vinny’s cause in supporting AdventHealth patients just like him with a donation to Vinny’s Fundraiser. These dollars will help patients receive the quality care they need, close to home.
A Proactive Approach to Your Health
Vinny’s eye-opening experience is an example of why we all need to stay on top of our health, no matter how old or how active we are. Could you be at risk for heart disease in the future? You may be surprised to learn that heart failure is a recurrent condition that affects one in five people over age 40, according to the American Heart Association.
To get ahead of a potential diagnosis, be aware of the first effects of heart failure. Some may not seem like a big deal so it can be easy to brush them off as being caused by something else, but as the disease progresses, symptoms will get worse. If you are experiencing or begin to experience any of the following, talk to your doctor about possible causes:
- Build-up of fluid that leads to swelling in your feet, ankles, legs or abdomen
- Chronic coughing or wheezing
- Confusion or impaired thinking
- Fast heart rate
- Fatigue or weakness
- Nausea or loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
While heart disease is not always the cause of these symptoms, you and your doctor can work together to determine whether further testing and treatment are necessary.
Knowledge is power and knowing the symptoms to be aware of is very important, but staying up-to-date on your annual wellness exams also plays a key role in taking the best preventive care of your health. Regular conversations with your doctor where you can discuss any recent changes in your medical history can help prevent potential health risks down the road.
If you’re wondering whether you’re at greater risk for heart-related illnesses, click here for simple tool that allows you to check your risk level by answering a few questions.
To learn more about cardiovascular care and how to protect your heart health, visit us at AdventHealthCardiovascularInstitute.com.