WACO, TX — Lee Ann and Charles Hooton visit the mountains of Colorado every year, but last summer it was different.
When they travel, the Hootons love to explore the outdoors, especially through a hike. But on their last trip, Lee Ann was out of breath too often, and she felt something wasn't okay.
"We're used to doing the, not hiking trails, but walking trails, and I just couldn't do it," she said.
It could have been altitude sickness, but with Lee Ann's family history of heart problems and both her parents having heart surgery, she knew this was something bigger.
Cutting their trip short, the Hootons went to their doctor at Baylor Scott & White and realized Lee Ann needed three heart stents immediately,
"I was not surprised at all with mine because both of my parents have issues," Lee Ann said.
Surgery was going to be a more than difficult as Lee Ann also had kidney problems, so operating posed a challenge.
"In doing that, he [the doctor] had to put her on a heart pump and a temporary little pacemaker to get her through the surgery," Charles said.
Charles needed to then care for his wife, who also has Alzheimer's. She could barley walk and care for herself, so Charles stepped in.
Watching his wife of 57 years recover in physical therapy, he thought it might be a good idea for himself to get checked out.
"They ran some of the normal tests and there was a blip on the electrocardiogram gram that I want to do a little more checking on," Charles said.
Just a few tests later, doctors realize it would be good for Charles to have a heart stent as well.
He thanks his wife, calling it a blessing in disguise, but was shocked for sure as Lee Ann likes to say Charles always kept her healthy throughout the years.
"I was really surprised because he's one of the healthiest men alive," she said.
Whether you have family history or try to stay as healthy as can be, heart problems can happen to anyone. As for the Hootons, they're keeping one foot in front of the other.
"I'm doing a lot better, I'm feeling a lot better and I'm glad the issue is addressed," Lee Ann said.
February is National Heart Health Month. To find more information on how you can stay heart healthy visit the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute website.