Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Derrick Dockery has a history of heart disease in his family and being the spokesperson for the Chest Pain Center at Buffalo General Hospital is an important calling that he and his wife believe in.
Dockery and his wife Emma received an educational tour of the Buffalo General Hospital Chest Pain Center on Tuesday and they went behind the scenes and met with a host of welcoming Kaleida Health representatives including doctors, nurses, medical staff and patients. They saw clogged arteries on x-rays, witnessed a patient getting a stress test and observed more patients lying in the emergency room and cardiac unit suffering from heart conditions.
"It's imperative and very important for us to get involved with Buffalo General and Kaleida," said Dockery. "We have personal experiences with family and my wife's father had a 95% blockage."
Buffalo General Hospital chief of cardiology, Dr. William Boden, is a firm believer that athletes especially need to take heart disease prevention measures early in their careers. He noted that many athletes are in great physical condition during their careers, but when they retire they do not keep the same levels of physical activity and their diets become unhealthy. He said that this gives athletes an increased chance for heart and vascular disease.
Dockery said, "People assume because I'm an athlete that heart disease is the farthest thing from my mind – but that's not exactly true. Heart disease runs in my family, so I need to be as concerned about heart health as you do."
Prevention of heart disease is at the core of the Chest Pain Center's cardiac campaign and this was evident throughout the conversations with the Dockery's and the medical staff at Buffalo General. "People could have symptoms and not know it," said Dockery. "All they need to do is come here where the doctors can take care of them."
Boden noted that knowing your risk factors is an important key to prevention of heart and vascular disease. He said that blood pressure, cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, diet and genetic history are some of the contributing factors of heart and vascular disease.
Boden suggested athletes should be screened during their playing careers for risk factors and that there are studies that show retired athletes are dying too young from heart and vascular disease. He believes many would be saved if they were educated about prevention while they were playing. While offering some ideas such as getting the Player's Association and team's player development staff involved, he pointed out that teams generally do not have programs in place to help with prevention of heart and cardiovascular diseases. Boden said, "Athletic trainers are great but they can't offer a diagnosis and prevention."
During a discussion with Dr. Boden about how people could receive a simple diagnosis and potentially avoid a heart attack, Emma Dockery put things into perspective and said, "It's time to be proactive instead of reactive."
The Dockery's heart is definitely in the right place about spreading the message of good cardiac care.
Kaleida Health has been the official health care system of the Bills since 2004. For more information on cardiac care, visit www.kaleidahealth.org/