WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - We've heard of heart attacks and how they usually start with chest pains or shortness of breath. But one Warner Robins man didn't have the usual symptoms of heart disease. If he didn't listen to his body there's a chance he wouldn't be here today.
"I just felt bad," said Chip Malone, Warner Robins.
Former Warner Robins High School basketball coach, Chip Malone, was the picture athlete. He was healthy and strong and young at heart. When he wasn't feeling like himself coach took it upon himself to get checked out.
"The pressures of coaching, the self-induced pressure yan know I put a lot of pressure on myself to win and I think after 32 years of that I think it just took its toll on me," said Malone.
What Coach Malone thought was a check-up, changed his life forever. He ended up going in for a heart transplant in November 2010.
"Coach is a miracle," said Dr. Mark Dorogy, Cardiologist.
Dr. Mark Dorogy, one of Coach Maolone's many doctors along his journey, says most of his patients come in because they sense the signs of a heart attack. He says coach was different since there weren't any obvious factors of heart disease in his case.
"Most likely it was a virus or something that damaged the heart muscle directly and he got very sick very quickly," said Dr. Dorogy.
Coaches awareness may have saved his life.
"Coach knew right away that something was going wrong with his body and sought medical attention immediately and that helped him tremendously," explained Dr. Dorogy.
Coach's wife Cynthia says her husbands persistence to seek medical attention is a lesson she hopes everyone can learn from.
"When you know about it don't be quiet about it," said Cynthia Malone.
She admits their journey has been more than difficult.
"At first it was devastating because we've always seem him in such great health he's always been the pillar of everything," said Cynthia Malone.
The lack of exercise and proper nutrition may be the reason so many Middle Georgian's suffer from heart disease.
"I think we're sort of in the belt of the United States that's where obesity is rampant and with obesity comes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes and with all those factors you can increase the risk of heart disease 7 to 10 fold," said Dr. Dorogy.
"I think it's the diet, the things that we eat in this area being in the south yah know we fry a lot of foods," said Malone.
Coach still isn't sure what caused him to get the disease, but he knows for some reason it was meant to happen. He's using what he calls his "second chance at life" to teach others about heart health.
"Everybody has a calling in life and I think that this is my callings. As a matter of fact I know it is," said Malone.
Coach hasn't met the transplant family, but he hopes that day will come soon.
Coach will be signing his book, "A SECOND CHANCE: Surviving a Heart Transplant," at the following locations:
Sunday, February 19- Union Grove Baptist Church, 10:30am
Thursday, February 23- Business Conference & Techno Expo in Macon, all day
Saturday, February 25- Galleria Mall in Centerville, 11am-4pm
Heart disease is on the list of the top five issues that face Middle Georgians, compiled by Community Health Works.