Liza Schlitt is a physically fit mother of two toddlers. She eats healthy and exercises regularly, just as doctors and conventional wisdom dictate.
So why did she find out in April, during a routine examination, that she had the arteries of a 57-year-old woman? A carotid artery scan revealed that the Preston Hollow resident had a hereditary condition that increased her risks for heart attack or stroke.
“I’m fairly fit. I eat really healthy,” Schlitt said. “But I’m a mom without a lot of time. When this test came back, it was an eye-opener.”
So Schlitt began to examine her lifestyle and made some adjustments to prioritize exercise each day — something as simple as walking around the neighborhood with her kids in a stroller — as well as a more nutritious diet that cuts down on sugars and fats, and includes multivitamin supplements.
“Sometimes we don’t see how the little things we do can make a difference,” said Schlitt, public relations manager for Diamond Luxury Healthcare in Preston Center. “Sometimes you forget about why you’re eating healthier or exercising more.”
She hopes that another upcoming scan with the same technology will note the same progress her doctors have seen with other patients, as she tries to reverse a quarter-century of aging on her arteries.
“It’s something we can reverse. It’s something we see all the time with our patients,” said Dr. Anthony Lyssy, Schlitt’s physician. “We just have to put our foot down at times. It can be a long process.”
The thickening in Schlitt’s arteries — known as atherosclerosis — included plaque buildup and inflammation consistent with someone much older. Although her condition is genetic, she didn’t know that until after she was diagnosed.
“I’m just blessed that I found out now rather than later,” she said.
Lyssy said her case stresses the importance of routine check-ups. After all, Schlitt wasn’t having any health problems or expecting to find anything out of the ordinary.
“The preventative aspect is so important,” Lyssy said. “Sometimes people are so concerned about what they look like on the outside that they forget about the inside.”