heart-1-color-kids-shirts-white_design.pngThe Story behind Plaque Busters..."Saving Lives, One Heart at a Time"

Dr.  Leslie Gaskill (www.drlesliegaskill.com) is a family medicine physician with a passion for prevention. Throughout her years of private practice, she has participated in community health fairs and screenings involving high blood pressure, high cholesterol, strokes, heart attacks, obesity, diabetes, breast cancer, and anti-tobacco counseling.

Her visit to Johns Creek Elementary School in the Spring of 2008, to teach first and second graders about cardiovascular disease is one she will never forget. “The impact this experience had on me was huge. God has called me for a mission, and He graced me with the entire plan for Plaque Busters. It is His idea. Sometimes it feels like climbing a huge mountain that is at a 175 degree incline! Yet He has continued to give me limitless courage, strength, and focus to follow His will. Most of all, He has brought some of the most incredible individuals and organizations into my life. I feel blessed for all those who have passionately shared in my mission for something that can help with the health and lives of children and adults. Our country is in a severe healthcare crisis. It my belief that this mission will also help with creating more jobs, in addition to helping with lowering the burden of diseases both physically and economically."

Due to an ever increasing trend in diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease in adults and children, it was Dr. Gaskill’s mission that spring of 2008, to try to teach 1st and 2nd graders about the importance of lifestyle. “I simply wanted to give them a visual image of literally what can happen to their bodies as a result of what they eat and whether or not they exercise. I never imagined they would be as engaged in my teaching as they were. Quite truly, it blew me away. Prior to my presentation, a few class helpers assisted me in passing out an assortment of healthy snacks I shared. We had fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, yogurt, low fat cheese, peanut butter, whole wheat crackers, and more. I wanted them to see how many tasty foods there are that are healthy!”

“ I had gone to Home Depot and Lowe’s to get some white putty and clear plastic tubing that I cut into small two- inch segments for each child. Each child also had a good sized ‘pinch’ of putty. ‘The tubing’ I explained, ‘represents an artery’. When we eat poorly
and don’t get exercise, our bodies make this yucky stuff called ‘plaque’. This plaque clogs up our arteries and can form clots that block the blood flow to our brains and our hearts. The brain tissue dies and causes a stroke. The heart tissue dies and causes a heart attack.”A12FA59789CDF30F00639FCB50441DC1.jpg

 Next they were to imagine eating all kinds of junk food like pizza, doughnuts, chips, french fries and chicken nuggets and at the same time they were to stuff the white putty into the tubing. “This is what you are doing when you eat those very unhealthy foods,” I told them. “This is called atherosclerosis.” As their eyes grew big, they repeated aloud upon my request, “ATHEROSCLEROSIS”  It was just as clear if not more clear than adults would say it. “I am scared”, one little boy said, “what can I do to stop this? I don’t want to have a heart attack .” His face was the color of a tomato.

“Let’s just work on keeping this from happening. We can fight
this yucky plaque with good healthy eating habits and exercise.” I reassured him.

We also discussed cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension. “CHO-LES-TER-OL, DI-A-BE-TES, HY-PER-TEN-SION,” they repeated back to me. They were truly amazing. The thought that this relatively short amount of time had such an impact on these children never escaped my mind. Would this impact make a lifelong impression?

How can we teach all children about these preventable diseases? If children in 1st and second grade can uwatermelon picture.jpgnderstand this, just imagine what reinforcing these ideas with each succeeding class could potentially accomplish? How can we reach out to more adults to teach them about prevention?  How can a child who wants to be healthy help himself or herself when the parents do the grocery shopping, cooking, and or the quick and easy drive throughs at the fast food restaurants? Why should children and adults even care to have the discipline to be healthy? Why should they choose lean chicken and fish over  a double cheeseburger, fries, and shake?  What is the motivation?  What is the incentive? What could possibly be fun about it?  Who is keeping track?  Who will know if (I) made healthy choices and worked out hard yesterday, and the day before, and last week? Who really cares? Is it “cool” to make healthy choices?

The number of patients I see that have atherosclerosis is worrisome. Some of the most severe cases of atherosclerosis I see are in patients who look like “pictures of health”, and often times have completely normal cholesterol profiles. There is a wealth of information now on the causes of plaque or atherosclerosis and its intimate relationship to diet, exercise, genetics, stress, diabetes, prediabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, high cholesterol, sleep disorders, and things which cause “inflammation” in the body. It is truly sad to see a whole family that is struggling with obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

I can literally beat my head against the wall and tell patients to eat right and exercise. Nevertheless, while patients are often sincerely motivated at the time of their visits, they walk out my office, go home, and fall right smack back into their regular unhealthy habits. It is so hard for them. You see, there is a big disconnect. I want to help fix this disconnect. The idea for Plaque Busters is merely God’s grace to help solve these problems. It is a way to help fix this “disconnect”. Plaque busters is a way that anyone and everyone can win. Any child, any adult, any organization, any company can participate. The idea is “Saving lives, one heart at a time!"

So, please take a moment to meet my friend, “Plaque Buster”!


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Phone - 770-495-9995
Fax - 770-232-1999 
Toll Free - 1-888-244-0006

6290 Abbotts Bridge Rd
Building 200 Suite 201
Johns Creek GA 30097

Visit Dr. Gaskill's website!