Heart Disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association. 

Approximately every 40 seconds, an American will have a heart attack.

American Heart Association

In honor of the Virtual Permian Basin Heart Walk, Saturday 12th at 9 a.m., it was essential to spread awareness of how you can prevent, manage this disease and live a healthy life. 

Stephen Mason, an author, speaker, former CEO of BayCare Health Systems with more than 40 years of experience in the health care industry, is on a mission to battle heart disease. As a survivor himself, having his first heart attack on the tennis court at age 47, he says it’s important to know your family genetics and get your cholesterol checked often. 

You don’t feel the effects of the disease when you are young. I’m out there running; I was a fairly avid runner. Running six to eight miles on the weekend and always felt like I was in really great health. I really didn’t understand that I had this time bomb inside of me that was beginning to tick. If left unattended, it could lead to issues that were a surprise at some point.

Stephen Mason, Survivor and Heart Health Advocate

Mason said what he didn’t realize as a child watching his father struggle with heart disease starting at the age of 43, how much genetics plays a role in this disease. His father, Vernon Mason, had a significant heart attack at the age of 56, followed by a quadruple bi-pass, and passed away relatively young at age 68. “I also never had a chance to meet my Grandfather because of heart disease,” said Mason. Through studies, researchers have found that the heart disease gene is passed down through the father. 

With the American Heart Association’s help and their focus on research, they have been able to make significant technological advances and give Mason a chance at a long and healthy life. 

The thing that has impressed me over the years is the hard work and the investment the American Heart Association has put into heart disease in this country. And it’s that research and life-saving technology that my Dad didn’t have the availability to, that I had a lot of, and that my grandchildren in the future will be able to take advantage of.

Stephen Mason, Survivor and Heart Health Advocate

Extended Conversation with Stephen Mason: Learn more about Heart Disease, how to manage your diagnosis, talk to your doctor and take charge of your health.