The president of the American Heart Association was recovering this week after suffering a minor heart attack at the organization’s scientific conference.
Dr. John Warner had the cardiac episode on Monday in Anaheim, California, and was taken to a local hospital, where doctors inserted a stent to open a clogged artery, according to a press release from the organization. His wife, son and daughter were with him as he recovered.
Warner’s family was on-hand to see him deliver his presidential address Sunday afternoon, during which Warner, 52, talked about the toll heart disease has taken on his family. Both his father and paternal grandfather required bypass surgery in their 60s, and he lost a maternal grandfather and great-grandfather to heart disease.
He was 6 years old when his great-grandfather died suddenly, Warner said in his speech. It was the first time he was exposed to the term “heart attack,” he said.
Heart disease continued to plague his family as he grew up and into his adulthood.
“After my son was born and we were introducing him to his extended family, I realized something very disturbing,” Warner said, according to the release. “There were no old men on either side of my family. None. All the branches of our family tree (were) cut short by cardiovascular disease.”
He told those at the conference that many other families have had the same experience with heart disease in the U.S. and around the world.
“Together, we can make sure old men and old women are regulars at family reunions,” he said. “In other words, I look forward to a future where people have the exact opposite experience of my family, that children grow up surrounded by so many healthy, beloved, elderly relatives that they couldn’t imagine life any other way.”
Following Warner’s heart attack on Monday, Nancy Brown, the chief executive officer for the AHA, said that his sudden illness highlights the organization’s message to the public.
“John wanted to reinforce that this incident underscores the important message that he left us with in his presidential address yesterday -- that much progress has been made, but much remains to be done,” Brown said.
“Cardiac events can still happen anytime and anywhere.”
Warner, a practicing cardiologist, is chief executive officer of UT Southwester University Hospitals in Dallas, the news release said.