Inspired by your heart health

Feb 27, 2019


Since the age of 35, Gary Jones lived life in the fast-lane, literally. The Avenal-native craved the rush from the dangerous jumps, twists and turns that accompany the sport of Motocross, which he took part in professionally for about a year.

During that time, he broke his jaw, both of his shoulders and his wrist three times. But there was one injury he didn’t anticipate.

At the age of 61, Jones suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Up until then, he never realized he had heart problems, but did know in his 30’s that he had high cholesterol and even a family history of heart disease. His grandparents on both sides of the family passed away young from heart problems; his mom was 84 when she passed away from a heart attack; and his oldest son was 55 when he died from complications of a heart attack. His son’s doctor had recommended that Jones have his heart checked as well, but he ignored the signs because he says he felt good and had been active his entire life.

“If I had known then, what I know now, I would have changed the way I ate and exercised more,” says Jones who’s been a heart patient of Dr. Frank Gavini’s, in Hanford, since 2001.

“Gary is a model patient,” says Gavini, a board-certified cardiologist affiliated with Adventist Health. “He completely changed his diet and is going to the gym regularly. He’s doing better than me.” Gavini knows exactly what his patients are going through. He suffered a heart attack himself in 2004. “I ended up almost dying,” says Gavini.

Both Gavini and Jones occasionally run into each other at the gym. Jones works out for 45-minutes, three to four times a week, mostly on the bicycle to strengthen his legs and light weights for his core. As for his diet, he eats fish, chicken and lots of vegetables. He eliminated fried food, red meat and sodas.

What he didn’t give up was his adventures on his KTM 450 motorcycle. Jones and a group of five others in their 70s still race competitively up and down the Sierra desert trails. He’s even on a bowling team and golfs with friends when the weather is nice.

Jones turned 79 on Feb. 16, two days after Valentine’s Day. He plans to continue to take great care of his heart, so he can be around a lot longer for his wife of 58 years; two daughters; four grandchildren; and three great grandchildren.

Dr. Gavini’s Top 4 Heart Health Tips:

1. Eat a heart healthy diet

2. Exercise at least 4 to 5 times a week

3. Concentrate on cardiovascular risk reduction – monitor high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes

4. Quit smoking

PHOTOGRAPHED: Gary Jones (left) on his orange KTM 450 motorcycle

Adventist Health in the Central Valley is part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, nonprofit integrated health system serving more than 80 communities on the West Coast and Hawaii. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist heritage and values, Adventist Health provides care in hospitals, clinics, home care agencies, hospice agencies and joint-venture retirement centers in both rural and urban communities. Our compassionate and talented team of 35,000 includes associates, medical staff physicians, allied health professionals and volunteers driven in pursuit of one mission: living God's love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope. Together, we are transforming the American healthcare experience with an innovative, yet timeless, whole-person focus on physical, mental, spiritual and social healing.