Gene Bak was 68 when he starting having chest pain. Decades of a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy American diet had finally caught up with him. At first he thought he was just having indigestion, but further evaluation revealed he had significant blockages in his heart. At age 68 he had 2 stents placed in his heart by Dr. Randall Stark, an interventional cardiologist at MHVI.
This took care of his chest pain symptoms but Dr. Stark impressed upon Gene the importance of controlling his high blood pressure and cholesterol in order to avoid progression of heart disease that may some day require more heart stents or perhaps even a bypass surgery. Gene had a hard time tolerating medications due to side effects, so he eventually took up cycling, thinking this may be a good way to get down his blood pressure and cholesterol. He got a carbon fiber bicycle and got serious…really serious.
Fast forward twelve years. Gene is now 80 years old and last year won four gold medals at the State senior games in men’s cycling for the 5K, 10K 20K, and 40K. Gene was ecstatic that he was able to attain an average of 23.6 miles per hour during the 20K competition. He recently wrote a letter to Dr. Stark and said, “I am still running on your two good stents…and praising you and my Lord for being able to do so.”
Gene Bak is an inspiration to all of us. His story reminds us that with enough determination, hard work, and a little help from modern medicine, patients with heart disease can maintain active healthy lifestyles and achieve amazing things with their bodies.