Northwestern Medicine

Chicago's First Indoor 5k Race has Special Meaning to Avid Runner and Open-Heart Surgery Patient

Northwestern Memorial Hospital February 20, 2012

Warm Your Heart 5k Race to benefit the Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute

CHICAGO, IL – 51 year old Mark Buciak has run 32 consecutive Boston Marathons and seven Chicago marathons. He is well-known throughout the running community and someone that many runners turn to for advice and support as they prepare for their 26.2 mile journey. Buciak will tell you that his most grueling test was not running the hills of the Boston Marathon but hearing he was going to have to have open-heart surgery in February, 2006.

Buciak’s annual physicals always included an electrocardiogram (EKG) due to his family history of heart disease. In 2003, at the Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, the routine EKG diagnosed him with an irregular heartbeat, better known as atrial fibrillation or A-Fib. Then, even after more testing, it was discovered that he had a leaky aortic heart valve and would need surgery at some point down the line. In 2006, the leaky heart valve had increased to a critical stage, and it was time for surgery.

“At first I could not believe that as a 45-year-old marathon runner, I could have problems like this,” said Mark Buciak. “After all, I had run 49 marathons and over 110,000 miles. The issue had nothing to do with my lifestyle because I exercised on a regular basis and maintained a healthy diet. Plus, I had no pain whatsoever. The doctor told me I had a bad heart valve. Fortunately, they discovered it before it was too late.”

“Mark is an incredible athlete, outstanding person and has a great spirit,” said Patrick McCarthy, MD, director of Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and Mark’s cardiac surgeon. “I knew his perseverance would carry him through.”

“Optimal health requires a team; it takes both a personal commitment to make lifestyle adjustments and a health care team committed to screen, identify, and when needed, treat those conditions that might otherwise go unnoticed,” said Clyde Yancy, MD, associate director of Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “Mark’s case is illustrative – working with a healthcare team, he’s still running today and anticipating a healthy future. Together, we can accomplish better health for everyone.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States in both men and women. Your heart works to pump 3,000 gallons of blood throughout the body each day. It’s important to protect it by eating healthy, exercising and managing stress. Nine out of 10 heart disease patients have at least one risk factor. Several medical conditions and lifestyle choices can put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarette smoking, overweight and obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol use.

“Even if you don’t have a heart problem, I guarantee you know a friend or family member who does,” said Buciak. “My 59-year-old brother passed away from heart failure last June, so I’m dedicating this Warm Your Heart 5k race to him.”

“The funds from the Warm Your Heart 5k Race could not be going to a better place,” added Buciak. “The focus of ‘patient first’ at Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is not just a mission, but a mission put into action.”

“We’re very thankful to everyone involved in the Warm Your Heart event,” said Dr. McCarthy. “Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is doing a lot of pioneering work in heart valve disease, including bicuspid aortic valve, and these funds will go a long way in helping our patients.”

The Inaugural Warm Your Heart 5K* is a one-of-a-kind indoor event.  Chicago’s only single-loop indoor race is your opportunity to run a 5K in the warm climate of McCormick Place.
February 26, 2012
Beginning at 9:00 am
Followed by great music.

Each participant will receive a long-sleeve technical tee with entry.

Come celebrate heart month by getting off your treadmill and running a great indoor course at McCormick Place in 70° weather on February 26th.

Learn more about Northwestern Medicine Cardiovascular Care.

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