(NBC News) – Perhaps one of the best gifts you can give this Father’s Day is a nudge to see a doctor. All too often men brush off symptoms that could be early signals for heart disease.
Richard Kief is one example. Kief appears to be in great shape. He’s a long-time athlete and avid cyclist.
A few years ago the 64-year-old started experiencing what he thought was acid reflux during his rides. “That’s what I thought this burning and discomfort in my chest was,” he recalls.
Then he developed pain in his left shoulder that he attributed to an old surgery. Kief, who’s an executive at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., ignored the symptoms for more than a year.
He finally mentioned the problem to a colleague after a meeting, saying the pain and discomfort only occurred when he was exercising. “That’s what got me concerned,” says Dr. Stuart Seides, a cardiologist.
Dr. Seides ordered tests immediately and diagnosed extensive coronary artery disease. Kief required triple bypass surgery.
Dr. Seides says men need to speak up when they have any kind of pain or ache between their neck and stomach. “If it occurs in a pattern with exercise and is relieved by rest, you need to seek medical attention,” he explains.
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