AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Heart & Stroke Walk 2023 began at 9 a.m. Saturday, and the event has helped spread the word to advocate for heart health and heart disease awareness.
Greg Underwood, a heart disease survivor, joined KXAN’s Jennifer Sanders to share his story and time volunteering at the Heart Hospital of Austin for the last 13 years.
Read a transcription of the discussion below or watch the interview in the video player above.
SANDERS: Okay, so you were a healthy 50-year-old before you got screened, and we’ll get to that in just a moment. Did you see any signs that you had issues with your heart?
UNDERWOOD: I was called asymptomatic, which means, you don’t have any symptoms. But what happened is my doctor said because of your family health history, which I didn’t realize…it’s a huge thing, and he said I want to do a scan on you. He said we were looking for some plaque, and they found a little plaque, but they found a lot more.
SANDERS: What did they find?
UNDERWOOD: Well, I had an aneurysm in my heart. I had a leaky heart valve, and then I had an enlarged heart. Because of that, that was pushing on that aneurysm.
SANDERS: And so you didn’t have any signs or symptoms. What was the treatment plan after you found out that you had this?
UNDERWOOD: The minute they found out, you go to the hospital and have surgery—the minute. I went to the hospital, had surgery, and came out of that great, but came out with more respect for what you should do.
SANDERS: I feel like because you have dedicated 13 years of your life volunteering and really raising awareness about this…what’s your message to someone who might have that family history, but they think ‘I feel good. I’m a healthy 50-year-old, just like you were.’
UNDERWOOD: You don’t know. You do not know, and the only way you’re going to find out, or the main way to find out is to have a CT scan. It takes 30 minutes, and it’s painless and easy. And you show everyone with heart history. Anyone should have it over a certain age but especially those with a family heart history can save your life.
SANDERS: Saturday is the Heart and Stroke Walk. You’ll be there. You have been volunteering and just pouring a lot of your life out into this organization as well as the heart hospital. Why is that so important to you?
UNDERWOOD: Oh, absolutely so important because of the good that they do. The good that Heart Walk does in terms of financially in terms of support. They create a community that you can be part of, and really, just for myself really. It makes you feel so good.
SANDERS: Thank you so much for just sharing your story of survival. It’s helped so many people.