The 52-year-old president of the American Heart Association suffered a heart attack during the organization’s annual conference.
John Warner, CEO of UT Southwestern University Hospitals in Dallas and a practicing cardiologist, suffered a ‘minor’ episode on Monday morning in Anaheim, California.
It came hours after he delivered his keynote speech on Sunday afternoon about preventing heart attacks in older people, sharing that all the men suffered heart conditions in their 60s.
Warner was taken to a local hospital near the conference, where doctors inserted a stent to open a clogged artery – a common move that Warner performs often himself, but one that was brought into question by a recent study which found the operation carries more risks than benefits.
He was met at the hospital by his wife, daughter and son who all had come to watch his speech at the conference.
Nancy Brown, CEO of the AHA, said in a statement that Warner is recovering, and hopes this episode sends a message to everyone about the importance of heart health.
‘John wanted to reinforce that this incident underscores the important message that he left us with in his presidential address yesterday – that much progress has been made, but much remains to be done. Cardiac events can still happen anytime and anywhere,’ Brown said.
Warner was appointed the organization’s volunteer figure head in July, going on to lead meetings in Panama, Beijing and Washington, D.C.
In his speech on Sunday, he revealed he has a family history of heart disease and heart complications.
His father and paternal grandfather required heart bypasses in their 60s. His maternal grandfather and great-grandfather died of heart disease.
‘Earlier in my talk, I told you there were no old men in my family,’ he told the conference.
‘I know this is also true in far too many other families, not just in the U.S., but around the world.
‘I believe the people in this room have the power – and even the duty – to change that.
‘Together, we can make sure old men and old women are regulars at family reunions.’
He added: ‘In other words, I look forward to a future where people have the exact opposite experience of my family, that children grow up surrounded by so many healthy, beloved, elderly relatives that they couldn’t imagine life any other way.’
The episode came at the beginning of the four-day conference, which ends on Wednesday.
Papers presented thus far have included research on dietary methods to improve heart health, and data showing the astronomical rates of heart conditions among African Americans compared to white Americans.
Possibly the most significant release was an update to the guidelines on blood pressure, with the AHA lowering the threshold for ‘hypertension’.
It means 30 million Americans who thought they were ‘high normal’ and deemed at-risk, and now have to urgently make lifestyle changes.