Springfield Father Helps American Heart Association Spread Awareness of Heart Disease in Missouri After His Near-Fatal Cardiac Episode

Chad Plein helps bring heart disease awareness to Missourians by lending his story to the #NoMOHeartDisease initiative.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Missouri, taking the lives of 14,000 Missourians each year. The American Heart Association recently launched #NoMOHeartDisease, a year-long initiative created to increase awareness and reduce the prevalence of heart disease in Missouri. Each month, #NoMOHeartDisease focuses on a different heart disease survivor from Missouri. 

April’s survivor is Chad Plein of Springfield.

In December, 2015, at age 39, Chad Plein was living the dream. He had a beautiful wife, two amazing children and a high-profile career as the sports director at KY-3. On top of that, the holiday season was in full swing. What happened next, however, would change his life forever.

After his morning shower, Chad experienced what he thought might be a panic attack. His wife dialed 9-1-1, despite his objections. Upon arriving at the hospital, they learned that the “panic attack” was actually a heart attack. Chad’s right coronary artery was more than 95% blocked. When stents didn’t work, Chad underwent open-heart surgery to open the clogged artery.

Chad knew that he had a family history of heart disease (he’s the fourth generation of males to suffer a heart attack on his father’s side), but he also thought at 39 he had time. He didn’t smoke, but he also didn’t exercise. Other risk factors included a diet significantly comprised of take-out food and a high level of stress.

Three days after his heart attack, Chad was able to come home from the hospital and celebrate Christmas with his family. However, the family’s reality has been forever altered. Almost three years later, Chad’s children say goodbye or goodnight over and over again and he strives to reassure them with, “I’m fixed now and everything is fine.”

Since the heart attack, Chad has a new daily routine. Take-out meals have been replaced by healthier options at home, water is his go-to drink and the treadmill is his friend. Chad knows that he can’t let stress overwhelm him and makes a conscious effort to enjoy the little things more and tries not to sweat the small stuff.  

Chad remarked, “I hope that by sharing my story, I can help the American Heart Association raise awareness of heart disease and the importance of healthy living to others.”

#NoMOHeartDisease works to educate Missourians on changes they can make to prevent heart disease, while unifying heart disease survivors. Each month, #NoMOHeartDisease tells a heart disease survivor’s story through video, blog and social media, all of which can be found at heart.org/nomoheartdisease. 

About American Heart Assn

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.