August 2001
What's Bridgeport Bluefish Vice President Ken Paul Doing to Take Care of His Heart?

Bluefish mascot & Ken Paul Lots of people feel a bit blue on their 50th birthday. They suffer a kind of "life's half over" letdown. They yearn for the days of their youth.

Not Ken Paul, senior vice president of the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team, who turned 50 on December 2, 1999. "I felt such a sense of joy," he says. "I was so happy that I had lived to be 50!"

Just a few days before his birthday, Ken suffered a heart attack. He spent nearly two weeks in The Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital, first having angioplasty to open the blocked arteries feeding his heart muscle, and then being treated for congestive heart failure. (This is a condition in which the heart isn't pumping well enough to provide blood to all the cells of the body. In Ken's case, his heart had most likely been weakened over time by clogged arteries, according to his Bridgeport Hospital-affiliated cardiologist, Adolfo Luciano, MD.)

All of this was a total surprise to Ken. "I was only 49, I felt healthy, I exercised, I ate sensibly, I had no symptoms. I loved my work with the Bluefish — we had just won the Championship! My life was great, and then this happened!"

But looking back, Ken knows what the problem was. "My cholesterol levels," he admits. Feeling healthy, he had never had his levels checked—even though he knew he had a family history of poor cholesterol levels. It turned out his total cholesterol level was 180, which was high—but worse yet, his levels of HDL (good cholesterol) were, he says, "abysmally low—22." (HDL levels below 40 are considered unhealthy, according to the National Institutes of Health's most recent guidelines.)

Ken's lifestyle has changed since that day in 1999. "I've lost weight; I go to the gym at least three times a week. I'm heavily vegetarian—no fats, no cholesterol, a little fish and chicken. And I read anything and everything on heart disease."

To keep his cholesterol under control, Ken is also taking niacin, a statin (cholesterol-lowering drug), and folic acid, as prescribed by Dr. Luciano.

Ken has a message for all of us: "Even if you think you're perfectly healthy, have your blood chemistry analyzed," he says. "Ask your doctor to order blood tests for your total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL levels, and your triglycerides too, and make sure the results are passed along to you. If I'd known my levels, and known the perils I faced, genetically and physically, things would have been different for me."

Today Ken's LDL is 80 (down 30 points from its highest level) and his HDL is 46 (double what it used to be!). He feels more energetic than ever. As well as being vice president of the Bluefish, he has become general manager of the Bridgeport Barrage lacrosse team.

"My first life was terrific," says Ken Paul. "Now I'm on my second life, and it's even better!"

For a referral to a cardiologist, call Bridgeport Hospital Physician Referral at 888-357-2396.