WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Eddie Pabon never thought he'd experience a heart attack at the age of 36.

"I always thought it was just an old person thing."

The respiratory therapist was finishing up his shift at Forsyth Medical Center when he felt a tightness in his chest.

A co-worker saw what was happening, and pretty soon, medical staff began preparing him for surgery.

"When Dr. Turner shook my hand in the cath lab, he was saying that you're having an active heart attack right now," Eddie recalled. "And that right there, I thought it sealed the deal, and I thought that was pretty much it for me."

Eddie says there's no history of heart disease in his family, but he does takes medication for high blood pressure.

Looking back, Eddie says he wishes he would have asked his doctor more questions about his heart health.

Now, he's using his experience to encourage others to get screened.

Novant Health kicked off its 10,000 Healthy Hearts Challenge this week to get people up to speed with heart health.

The goal is to teach 10,000 people about how the human heart ages. Eddie hopes his story will be one that teaches others the importance of having a healthy heart.

The CDC says 3 of 4 U.S. adults live with a heart that's actually aging faster than them.

Novant Health encourages everyone to take a heart disease risk assessment that analyzes cardiovascular risk factors.

Because heart attacks don't discriminate - take it from a 36-year-old.

"I was definitely in the right place at the right time because the odds were very much against me that night," said Eddie.


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