Young widow encourages men to get their hearts checked

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RAYMORE, Mo -- A drawing that hangs on a wall of the Reynolds' home tells of a child's love for her daddy.  But John Reynolds is no longer there for Will, Addison and Eloise, or for his wife, Erin.  One day 16 months ago, she was in the kitchen.  Her husband had gone out for a run.  Erin Reynolds got a text message from a friend saying there were police cars on a nearby road.  Then Reynolds saw those cars and her friend coming down the road toward her.

"And she said he's gone, and I remember just dropping to my knees and sobbing in the yard," said Reynolds.

She was widowed at age 33.  Her husband had died at age 42 of a heart attack.  An autopsy revealed plaque build-up in his arteries.  He had no idea he had heart disease.  He hadn't been to a doctor in two years.

"You know, the day-to-day, his job, traveled a lot, the kids, it just got in the way of making that happen," Reynolds said.

Her message to men?

"Make it happen," she said.

A golf tourney will be held Thursday, Oct. 9, on what would have been the Reynolds' 10th wedding anniversary.  Part of the proceeds go to the Saint Luke's Foundation to help increase heart screening in men.  Erin Reynolds believes CardioScan, a screening that shows calcium build-up in arteries, could have saved her husband.

"I look at our coronary arteries just like the pipes in our house. Is their any rust in the pipes?" said Dr. Tracy Stevens, a Saint Luke's cardiologist.

To encourage men to get screened, the hospital has created a heart package for couples.  For $175, they can get heart risk assessments including CardioScans.

"I am so impressed with what Erin is doing.  What a brave woman," said Dr. Stevens.

Erin Reynolds says she knows what her husband would want her to say.

"He's not here to say it.  I'm here to say it, and that's don't delay," she said.

Reynolds' son found a rock shaped like a heart on their beach vacation this summer.  To her, it symbolizes the need to guard and protect your heart for those you love.

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