In 2008, Scott Pierson was not worried about his heart health, but when his wife Sharon saw an announcement in the newspaper about free heart health screenings offered by Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute and encouraged him to attend, he thought: “Why not? It’s free.”
“I thought I was a reasonably healthy guy,” said Pierson, who was 47 and athletic, having played sports in high school and college and coaching youth football and baseball for most of his adult life. “I had an active life of family, work and coaching in the community.”
So, on the day of the screenings, it came as a surprise when Pierson and his wife sat down with Family Nurse Practitioner Kim Montagne to hear about their test results.
“She went over my wife’s numbers and gave her some advice,” Pierson recalled. “Then she turned to me and she basically said, ‘You’re a heart attack waiting to happen.’”
Pierson is still thankful for this alarming information and the guidance that followed.
“She changed my life,” Pierson said. “My wife believes Kim (Montagne) saved my life.”
Motivated by the screening results, Montagne’s advice and his father’s struggles with heart conditions, Pierson started improving his health that very day.
“I had many strikes going against me,” Pierson said. “Heredity — my father had a heart attack at 63, a triple bypass at 64 and a stroke at 66. I was approaching 50 and I wasn’t getting any younger. My cholesterol and blood pressure were high and I needed to pay more attention to my weight, stress and diet.”
He began exercising more and eating better. His focus shifted from being in shape to being healthy. He began to spend less time lifting weights and more time doing cardiovascular activities like running. He started what he calls a “life-it,” as opposed to a diet, and began making more positive food choices.
“I started shopping the outside aisles of the grocery store, where you find all the fresh food,” Pierson said. “If I found myself in the fast-food drive-through, I’d order the grilled chicken lettuce wrap with iced tea or water instead of a cheeseburger, fries and a soda.”
As the head of operations for Wood Castle Furniture in Albany, Pierson shares his health focus with co-workers by bringing in fresh fruits, vegetables, water and coffee every week, for all employees to enjoy free of charge.
Pierson continues to attend the free heart health screenings each year. His results have improved dramatically, and he appreciates the opportunity to see Montagne.
“It’s great to be able to sit down and talk with her, and thank her for launching me on this journey.”
Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute has offered free heart health screenings in Albany, Corvallis, Lebanon, Lincoln City and Newport since 2006. To find out more about Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute, visit samhealth.org/SHVI.