Boynton chief discusses heart health after recent surgery

Boynton chief discusses heart health after recent surgery

Boynton Beach Police Chief Michael Gregory is used to focusing the attention on those who need him: his family, his police officers, his community members.

In the last few months, he's been forced to focus more on himself.

"I didn't feel particularly bad a few months back, going into November, October," said Gregory.

He was preparing for the holidays, knowing Thanksgiving would be a time to indulge. He was exercising a bit more and running, something he jokes he's not particularly fond of doing. That's when he started to notice a difference in his body, and he listened to it.

"I tell you, it wasn't extreme," he said of his experience. "This just doesn't feel right, this doesn't feel like how I normally feel when I exercise. My chest doesn't feel right, my breathing isn't the same."

He was scheduled for his regular general check ups at the doctor and decided to say something, even though his general vitals tests were all perfectly fine. The doctor sent him to the cardiologist, who ran a battery of tests. Most of those specific heart tests came back as normal also, until one showed a 75 percent blockage in a major artery.

While the symptoms did not feel like a thunderclap, the diagnosis did.

"Your life is changed, you now have heart disease. You have to accept that, and I'm like, what do you mean, I can't accept that. Yesterday I didn't and now I do," he said.

Gregory has a close relationship with his daughter, who stayed by his side through his heart stent surgery recovery.

"She's my second heart, so my physical one and then my virtual one with my daughter. We went through this together," he said.

The two immediately started having conversations about heredity and her heart health in the future.

"I told her, even though you work out all the time, you got to stay on top of this," he said.

Gregory then started having the conversation with members of his police department. He created "Wellness Wednesdays," an opportunity to have speakers share education and resources with officers each week.

"I'm hoping to create an environment here in the police department that we can have that conversation and that resources are made available," Gregory said.

He is urging others to listen to their bodies, and seek medical care with doctors to get answers. He hopes the message will save a life.

"There's a reason they call it the silent killer. It's because it sneaks up on you and you aren't aware of these subtle changes that are happening in your lifestyle," he said.

The message is even more important for people who are used to worrying about the wellness of others around them, before focusing on themselves.

"Take off the Superman suit, and go to the doctor," Gregory said.

Learn more about the symptoms and resources through the American Heart Association.

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