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Hidden Epidemic: Heart Disease in America
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Watching: The Hidden Epidemic - Heart Disease In America

Chapter 1: Out of Nowhere [7:00]

Fit and apparently healthy, the father of a young family is hit hard by heart disease.

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Transcript: Chapter 1 - Out of Nowhere

Fit and apparently healthy, the father of a young family is hit hard by heart disease.

JOANNE WILLIAMS: You know, my father's always been larger than life in everything. So I'll miss that, you know, I'll miss that. And I'll, um. It'll be hard. It'll be really hard.

MICHAEL WILLIAMS: I know dad's got heart disease. It's progressive. It's not going to reverse itself.

FRED WILLIAMS: He's going to die, you know. Nobody wants to admit it, OK? Nobody wants to--to look at it

JAMILLE BENSON: It's just scary. It's like you don't even- you're not even forced to think about what if your parents not being around until something happens.

DR. STEVE NISSEN: It can happen to anybody. There's no question, heart disease is the number-one problem in America.

ROBIN IVANY: My heart out of nowhere, it started beating and squeezing as fast as you can imagine. I remember laying there thinking, this can't be happening

DR. DANIEL LEVY: In the United States, one in two men and one out of every three women will eventually develop heart disease during their lifetimes.

DR. WILLIAM CASTELLI: Half of us die from this disease. 80% of us die with it.

KEN CHRISTIANSON: I had no warning until I had my massive heart attack. I was clinically dead three minutes and came back.

DR. PETER LIBBY: We've gotten so good at keeping people from dying during the acute phase of a heart attack, many in the public perceive cardiovascular disease as a done deal, as a problem solved. Nothing could be further from the truth.

DR. STEVE NISSEN: We have to find what's driving that disease, and to try to attack it at its root causes.

DR. PETER LIBBY: Our ideas of how heart attacks come about have evolved enormously in the last decade, but we haven't really completely unraveled the mystery of cardiovascular risk.


AMI KANN: Philip was very high energy and treated me very well, and we had a very good time together. He was always giving me compliments, sending me cards and flowers until I finally told him, um, you don't have to buy me cards and flowers every - every other day.

ADELE ACK: It was just like the perfect thing to happen. He was so happy. It was just a wonderful match.

AMI KANN: We wanted to start a family, and it happened relatively quick, and we were hoping for a girl.

ADELE ACK: He was so thrilled. And the morning the baby was born he called me and said, it's a girl! He was so excited.

AMI KANN: The baby was born in April, and in May, we had Philip's birthday first, and then Philip's son Justin's birthday three days later. And, um, we just stayed home that day and played with the baby, and, you know, the baby was only 10 days old. We didn't really a make big celebration. I thought there was lots of time for those things.

ADELE ACK: I didn't get to see him. Two days later was Mother's Day, and I just remember him calling me that night and saying, I love you.

AMI KANN: I woke up to take care of the baby. I think it was probably 400 or 500 in the morning. And Philip, he was snoring very, very loud. Louder than usual, and I couldn't wake him or budge him. I had tried, because it was actually disturbing me, as exhausted as I was. And I took care of the baby and went back to sleep. And by 930, I tried to wake up Philip and I could not wake him up.

ADELE ACK: I got a call at work from my daughter, and I said, what's wrong? And she said, don't ask questions. Just get over to Philip's.

AMI KANN: The way he looked, and the fact that he wasn't moving, I--I knew. I knew he was dead.

NARRATOR: Philip Epstein died five days after his 44th birthday.

AMI KANN: I started to question it within a day. You know, what could have gone wrong? He had no health complaints that I know of.

ADELE ACK: He was working out, he was playing a lot of golf, he always was a swimmer. He was able to see Justin three times a week, he never missed. He never seemed to have any problems.

AMI KANN: I never really thought of him as having any health issues, but really he probably had heart disease.

NARRATOR: Philip's death certificate said he died in his sleep of a massive heart attack. He left behind an infant daughter and a 10-year old son.

JUSTIN EPSTEIN: He was a great dad. He always believed in me. He got me an electric guitar like two days before he died. Said he was going to teach me to play it.

AMI KANN: The fact that the baby was two weeks old, and you know, we had wanted to start a family, and I felt like we didn't have the chance to - to - to do that. We didn't have the chance to raise our daughter together.

AMI KANN: You know, I considered this the beginning of our life together. I didn't know how long we would have, but I certainly never thought that things would change so quickly, that I would have a baby and he'd be gone two weeks later. That was - I can't ima - it was unimaginable.

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