A Birthday Bash with Heart

By Sarah Fedele

Richard Tims of Kernersville will be spending his 47th birthday with thousands of people out at Triad Park. Why thousands? This is a celebration of HEART!

“Almost one year ago, at just 45 years old, a heart attack nearly stopped me in my tracks. As soon as I saw that the Triad Heart Walk would be happening at Triad Park in Kernersville on Saturday, October 7, I knew how I would be celebrating my birthday,” shared Richard. 

“My mom always told me to listen to my body,” remembered Richard. “I took medication for what I thought was acid reflux, but it didn’t help. I had sensations in my left arm. Then, I started having chest pains. The advice from my mother came back to me.” His mother also had a heart attack at 45. Richard drove himself to the hospital. 

Physicians performed a delta troponin series of blood tests to identify possible heart damage. Anything over a seven is indicative of a heart attack. “My first result was a 26, then a 78, and my last result was 232,” shared Richard. After being examined by physicians, Richard was released with Nitroglycerin as a precaution and a follow-up plan with his physician.

“But the pain didn’t go away. I’m a go-go-go person, but this had changed me,” said Richard. “At that time, it took everything I had to just walk from my car and make it to the very first grocery cart I could find in the parking lot.”

The doctors had instructed Richard to come back to the hospital if he had to use more than three doses of nitro and his blood pressure did not go down. His youngest daughter Addyson reinforced that plan. He was driving on the freeway with Addyson when he experienced a sudden chest pain. He took a dose of nitro and kept going. Five minutes later, the chest pain hit again, and he took another nitro. “The pain felt like someone was taking their thumbs and gouging them into the left side of my chest,” recalls Richard. “I promised Addyson that if I had to take another nitro, I’d drive straight to the hospital. After five doses of Nitro – I did finally keep my promise and headed back to the hospital.”

“At Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, Dr. John Michael McCabe became my hero,” shared Richard. “During a catheterization procedure, he found two hidden blockages – one was 78% and another was 45%. Two stents were inserted, and my pain was finally gone.”

Now Richard is back to the races! One of his first goals after cardiac rehab was to be able to get back to enjoying the races at Bowman Gray where he grills and tailgates before the races begin. But now his grilling and his lifestyle has a healthier spin. Richard works hard to eat healthier, and he checks his blood pressure at least three times a week.

He also stays active with walking. “My mom used to say, ‘get your legs moving’ and we’ll be doing just that for my 47th birthday,” said Richard. His family and friends will be joining him at the Triad Heart Walk on Saturday, October 7. 

“I’m honored to share my story. If my kids can learn through my experience, I’m more than willing to take the hit. I think if I had heard a story of someone in my community that had this experience at such a young age, I would have paid attention and it may have changed my path. If my story can help just one person learn about the symptoms of a heart attack or start to make small changes to help prevent heart disease, I want to help,” shared Richard.

Participating in the Heart Walk is about coming together, getting hearts pumping, honoring survivors like Richard, raising lifesaving funds – and having fun along the way. The Triad Heart Walk will be on Saturday, October 7 at Triad Park in Kernersville. The event begins at 10am and the walk starts at 11am with a three-mile route and one-mile Survivor Loop option. The Triad Heart Walk is supported by Live Fierce Life is Why Sponsor Novant Health, Be the Beat Sponsor Cone Health, and Healthy for Good Sponsors, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist & MedCost. To register or for more information, visit www.TriadHeartWalk.org.

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