Former County Judge-Executive George Lusby had noticed a few subtle changes in his health.

Shortness of breath walking up the hill  from the parking lot by the jail to the courthouse.

Tightness in his chest during his walks at the Pavilion. 

But those little episodes would pass so he didn’t think much of it, and doctors said he had atrial fibrillation.

Until he was sitting on his couch at his home May 29.

“I had always bragged on how healthy I was. I’m sitting on the couch watching television rubbing my chest,” Lusby said. “My wife (Barbara) says, ‘Is your chest hurting?’ ‘It just tightened up like it has before.’ She asked if my left arm hurt, and I said my right one does.”

She had just bought a new blood pressure machine and took his blood pressure. 

“It was 190 over 160. I said, ‘See I told you that thing was cheap,’” he laughed. She took it three times and they were all in that range. He suggested she take hers, and it was 130 over 70. She called her daughter who is a nurse, and she said take him to the hospital.

“I got to the hospital and they took my blood pressure. It was 230 over 190. I remember those numbers,” he said. “The doctors there asked him, ‘Do you know you are having a heart attack?’ I said no because I didn’t feel bad.”

He ended up at UK and had two stents put in.

On Saturday, the third annual Scott County Heart Walk, sponsored by the American Heart Association, will take place at Georgetown Community Hospital. Registration starts at 9 a.m. with the walk beginning at 9:30 a.m. The Heart Walk helps raise awareness and donations that helps create new technologies such as the artificial heart valve, cholesterol drugs, stents and the mechanical heart pump which helps extend the life of patients, according to an American Heart Association press release.

“The Heart Walk is still focused on its initial assignment, funding groundbreaking research through the passion of walking together to change lives,” said Lisa Edwards, Heart Walk director, in the release.

Lusby is a walking testament to paying attention to the warning signs. He never took the elevator, always walked to get exercise and had no symptoms. Still, he found himself a statistic.

“I really think if it hadn’t been for my wife, I would have gone to bed and I might have survived or might not have,” he said. “I’ve thought a lot about things since then. Your heart is a muscle and you have to exercise you heart. You have to take care of yourself.”

He grew up working in tobacco fields, helping his dad who was a painter, played sports and then refereed for 52 years. He didn’t smoke or drink either.

“You don’t start preparing for retirement when you are 60, 65. Same thing with taking care of your health,” he said. “You don’t wait until your health is gone to start preparing. I think the lifestyle I had helped and I feel better now than I have in the last 10 years.

Every day, about 2,150 Americans die from cardiovascular disease — the No. 1 killer in the United States. Stroke, the No. 5 killer and a leading cause of severe disability, claims the lives of nearly 219,000 each year.

The Heart Walk is open to the community as all are welcome to participate and change the story of heart disease and stroke in Kentucky. Those who walk are committed to funding research that keeps hearts beating.

“What makes our hospital passionate about walking is that the funds raised go to fueling hearts. Real human anatomical hearts,” said Audra Byers, RN, BSN, CCRN, CCRP, CHFN, director of Cardiovascular Services & Accreditation at Georgetown Community Hospital, the in release.  “What our Heart Walk team knows is that gratification isn’t about what you get when you give. It is about the satisfaction of knowing that your dollar isn’t going in a back pocket. Your dollar is going to change a life.”

Over the past 25 years the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association have funded $3.4 billion in research. But the work is far from done. The American Heart Association is nearing the $5 billion mark as we work to fund big ideas to pioneer breakthroughs in our understanding and treatment of heart disease and stroke.

The Scott County Heart Walk sponsors are Adient, Bluegrass Orthopaedics, Foley Auction & Realty, Frank Shoop, Georgetown Community Hospital, Georgetown-Scott County Parks & Recreation, Go Systems Go, Hallway Feeds, Kiwanis Club of Georgetown, KY, Ryder Logistics and VASCOR.

To register or for more information, log on to www.heart.org/CentralKYWalk.

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