After the death of a fellow Joliet police officer, Bert Badertscher felt it was time to check out his own health situation. It turned out to be a life-saving decision.
|HEART STORY: BERT BADERTSCHER
Badertscher, 39 years old and a K-9 officer with the Joliet Police Department, had some initial testing that pointed to potential problems.
"My cholesterol was 250, all the numbers were bad," recalls Badertscher.
Those results led to an Ultra Fast Heart Scan at Edward Heart Hospital last August. Ultra Fast is a screening tool used to detect the early build-up of calcium in the coronary arteries, the most common cause of heart disease. Badertscher's Ultra Fast results showed a build-up of calcium. Further testing revealed two arteries with 90 percent blockage and a third artery with a partial blockage.
Surgery to correct the larger blockages followed with the insertion of four stents by Timothy Larkin, MD, an interventional cardiologist with Midwest Heart Specialists. The partial blockage is being treated with medication.
It wasn't a complete surprise to Badertscher that he had a problem. His family has a history of heart trouble. In fact, his father has been a patient of Dr. Larkin's for a number of years.
But, Badertscher was also very active, coaching and playing soccer and scoring well on his Joliet Police Department's fitness tests. He even ran in the Nashville Marathon in 2005. And, he had no symptoms that would have caused him to think he was in imminent danger.
"At 39 years old, I realize I could've gone at any moment," says Badertscher. "It shows you really don't know what's going on inside of your body. The Ultra Fast test showed the calcium build-up."
Badertscher also learned the value of exercise and a fitness routine to address cardiovascular health.
"I had an active life, but busy and active doesn't mean the same thing as exercising to relieve high blood pressure, stress and to relax," he says.
These days, Badertscher is running three to three-and-a-half miles every other day and says he feels "very stress-free and healthy."
He's also spreading the word to his fellow officers and urging them to "Pay It Forward," borrowing the title and premise of the Hollywood movie. Badertscher's hope is that others in the Joliet Police Department will begin the early detection process by getting their blood pressure and cholesterol checked.
"The middle-age guys were shocked when they heard about what happened to me because I was so active," says Badertscher, whose efforts have been successful. Some officers have gotten tested and some have started working out again.
"Don't take your life or your responsibilities to your family for granted," counsels Badertscher.
"So many people depend on you in their lives. You want to be able to see them grow old."