Retired MLB player shares message of good heart health after suffering congestive heart failure

Most of us have a pretty infectious case of World Series fever right now and if one retired MLB player had anything to do with it that would be our only health issue. He’s now spreading a message about the importance of taking good care of yourself.  

"Here. That’s for you," smiles retired baseball player Jim Breazeale as he hands a nurse his 1973 baseball card during his examination at the Memorial Hermann, UTHealth Houston Center for Advanced Heart Failure.

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Breazeale played for the White Sox and Braves where he posed for a picture with his, then, teammate Hank Aaron. In the minors, the Houston native was on a team in 1968 with another person you may recognize. 

"Dusty Baker. He was tall, skinny and a very good player," Breazeale says.  

Yes, that Dusty Baker, Astros Manager Dusty Baker.

As his former teammate takes the world stage in the World Series, the retired first baseman, who was famous for batting left-handed and throwing with his right, is at the heart center and inviting us along for one reason. He wants to help others.

"Good morning, Mr. Breazeale. How are you?" asks UTHealth Houston, Memorial Hermann Hospital Advanced Heart Failure Cardiologist Dr. Sriram Nathan as he walks into the room.

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Breazeale has had two heart attacks and is suffering Congestive Heart Failure. 

"It was just getting to where I could walk a few feet then I had to rest."

He’s now an advocate for regular doctor visits and staying healthy. 

"You should start when you’re young, watching how much you drink, how much you eat, and what you eat. This is about 30 or 40 years that caught up with me." 

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The 73-year-old now has a Left Ventricular Assist Device to help keep his heart pumping. He carries part of the device in a black crossbody bag. 

"This is the controller and two batteries (inside the bag). This one wire comes out, goes up here into my stomach, and into my heart," Breazeale explains.

"Until a few years ago, we would say a one-year survival, two year survival, but now we have a concrete five-year survival on patients with a Left Ventricular Assist Device and the five-year survival is well over 50%," says Dr. Nathan, who’s "a diehard Astros fan," and also shares his patient’s passion for promoting heart health. 

"You want to make sure you have a good lifestyle. Eat proper food, exercise regularly," Dr. Nathan explains. 


Breazeale, meantime, is happy to share his wisdom with others and grateful to still be making meaningful memories with loved ones. 

"I got to go to a family reunion with my four kids and 13 out of 15 grandchildren. Last Friday, got to watch my grandson get married," he smiles, and he’s still rooting for his friend Dusty.

"I think after 3,000 games he deserves to win it (the World Series)," says Breazeale.