Seven years ago, Vernon resident Greg Mussenden was enjoying a winter walk with his wife when he experienced an unfamiliar tightness in his chest.
“I knew something wasn’t right,” he said. “I had to stop and rest,” he said.
With a history of heart disease in his family, Mussenden tried to consciously live a healthy lifestyle, eating properly and exercising regularly.
Although there wasn’t any pain, a recurring sensation of heaviness in his chest during exercise impeded his breathing. After several incidents, he decided to pay a visit to his doctor, who referred him to a cardiologist. Mussenden was sent for a stress test and nuclear heart scan.
“The cardiologist was quite concerned; not just about the blockages, but the areas where the blockages were located was quite serious.”
Mussenden was admitted to the ICU at Vernon Jubilee Hospital where he waited for three days to be transported to Kelowna General Hospital. An angiogram determined two of the affected arteries were 90 per cent blocked.
“It happened really fast, so it was kind of a blur. I had two stents put in. There were other blockages around 15 -to-20 per cent, but it requires a 75 per cent threshold to do a stent.”
After the stent placement was performed, Mussenden says he noticed an instant difference. “It was like taking a clogged fuel line and fixing it.”
As part of his post-procedure care, Mussenden consulted with a nutritionist and physiotherapist.
“It was a bit of an education for me. I thought for exercise to do any good, you had to be sweating and really work out, but 20 minutes of daily walking really does wonders for you.”
Today, he sticks to a regimented schedule of sit ups, push ups, weight bearing exercises and walking on the treadmill for 45 minutes, five to six days a week.
“I’m up at 5:30 every day. If I don’t exercise in the morning, I don’t feel as good during the day.”
His dedication to exercise and healthy eating resulted in a 20-pound weight loss.
Mussenden also follows up with a stress test every three years with his cardiologist.
“It’s a non-event to me now,” he says.
As a long-time board member for Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation, Mussenden’s health issues provided him the opportunity to see first-hand the importance of ensuring quality health care for North Okanagan residents.
“If there was no foundation, our health system would be like a Chevrolet versus a Cadillac. It would just cover basic needs and nothing more,” he said.
In addition to countless volunteer hours dedicated to the foundation, Mussenden also supports the organization through personal and business donations. For many years, he and his partners at Summit Financial sponsored VJH Foundation’s Do it for Dad Run and Walk that took place each Father’s Day from 2002 to 2016.
“I believe in the cause,” he said. “When I joined the board, the most shocking thing to me was how much the foundation does to get equipment for the hospital and residential facilities. I thought the government supplied everything.”
After many years of supporting the event to fight prostate cancer, Mussenden’s father developed the disease. Through treatment, he was able to beat prostate cancer, but sadly passed away from other causes on Father’s Day in 2009.
VJH Foundation is dedicating the month of June to local men’s health, raising funds and awareness for prostate cancer and heart health.
This year alone 4,000 Canadian men will die of prostate cancer. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death throughout the western world and the second most common cause in Canada.
Donations to Men’s Health Month will stay local and benefit all men in the North Okanagan. Funds raised will help purchase an ECG machine and trolley for Vernon Jubilee Hospital, free PSA testing for North Okanagan men, and educational materials and support for local prostate cancer patients and survivors.
For more information, or to donate, please visit vjhfoundation.org/mens-health-month/.