Feb 19, 2013

Posted by in Cardiac, Internal Medicine | 0 Comments

Fred’s Miracle

fredNot that long ago I interviewed a man who considers himself a miracle. After hearing his story, I would say he’s probably right. But, I would also say that he is in part responsible for his miracle with a lot of hard work and determination.

At Pella Regional, we have a cardiac rehabilitation program. The staff works with patients to restore them to the best health possible after a heart event—heart attack, some sort of heart surgery and things like that. The patient I interviewed, Fred Koogler from Pella, described part of his heart “event” in this way:

“I died…while they were putting me on the helicopter and again in the hallway on the way to the surgical suite.”

Crazy, huh? Well, the rest of Fred’s story is also pretty amazing.

While Fred’s story is not necessarily typical, according to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women in the US. February is Heart Month and a good time for people to take a careful look at their overall health and learn their “numbers” when it comes to cholesterol and triglyceride levels, blood pressure and more.

“Knowing these numbers is an important part of keeping you healthy. That’s why it’s so important to schedule regular appointments with your physician,” says Dr. Doug Kanis, internal medicine physician at Pella Medical Clinic. “These appointments give you an opportunity to talk to your doctor about your risk factors for heart disease and mark your progress on a regular basis.”


HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. HDL is “good” cholesterol because it lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke. That means that unlike other cholesterol levels, a higher HDL cholesterol level is good. You can raise your HDL cholesterol by quitting smoking, losing excess weight and being more active. A high HDL cholesterol level, therefore a lower risk, is 60 and above.

LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is the main carrier of harmful cholesterol in your blood. A high level of LDL cholesterol means there’s a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.


Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body. They’re also a major energy source. They come from food, and your body also makes them. As people get older, gain excess weight or both, their triglyceride and cholesterol levels tend to rise.

Many people who have heart disease or diabetes have high fasting triglyceride levels.

Some studies have shown that people with above-normal fasting triglyceride levels (150 or higher) have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

Blood pressure

High blood pressure means the pressure in your arteries is elevated. Blood pressure levels are written as two numbers, such as 112/78. The top, systolic, number is the pressure when the heart beats. The bottom, diastolic, number is the pressure when the heart rests between beats. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. High blood pressure is a pressure of 140 systolic or higher and/or 90 diastolic or higher that stays high over time.

Fred made some very big lifestyle changes, and so can anyone with a positive attitude and knowledgeable support from our doctors and our nurses in cardiac rehabilitation. Do you know your numbers? Are you working to improve those numbers? Good luck to you in whatever steps – big or small – you are taking.

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