Pastor Matt Carter of a megachurch has resigned at the age of 48, claiming his progressing heart illness as the reason.
Matt Carter, the second senior pastor of Houston’s 16,000-member Sagemont Church, resigned from his position on Sunday at the age of 48, citing a rapidly increasing accumulation of plaque in his heart’s arteries.
“I discovered that the type of plaque I have in my heart is a rapidly growing plaque.” I had no idea you could have that. There are two varieties. “There’s the slow-growing kind that takes years to develop, and then there’s the swiftly developing variety, which is the sort I have,” Carter said to his audience on Sunday.
According to a Harvard Medical School investigation, vascular plaque, which puts people at risk of heart attack and stroke, forms and grows when there is a high amount of cholesterol in the blood. It’s especially harmful since physicians haven’t worked out how to get rid of the accumulation.
“We can’t make plaque disappear, but we can diminish and stabilize it,” Harvard Medical School professor and cardiologist Dr. Christopher Cannon noted in the Harvard Health Publishing article “Can we limit arterial plaque buildup?”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, in addition to excessive levels of cholesterol in the blood, stress accelerates the accumulation of plaque in the arteries and causes them to constrict.
Carter believes the rapid buildup of plaque in his arteries coincided with his brief tenure as senior pastor of Sagemont Church.
“I had a heart scan (also known as a calcium score test) two and a half years ago — the score ranges from 0 to 400, with 400 indicating serious heart problems.” It was a 40 when I had the heart scan about three years ago. “It was in the low range, nearly nothing,” Carter added. “A few months ago, it was 440. As a result, it has evolved tremendously quickly in the previous two years.”
Carter mentioned missing church a week before because he had to go to the hospital for medical attention.
“For those of you who are familiar with a cardiac disease, they put in a stent a few of months ago for a blockage, and during my time in the hospital last week, I discovered two things I was unaware of before I got there,” he explained.
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“The first is that, as I’ve already stated, I have a 90% blockage in one of my arteries. What I didn’t realize was that the 90 percent blockage was in my widow-maker section of my heart. That was novel to me. “I must have missed that bit,” he continued.
According to a Novant Health article, the widow-maker artery refers to the left anterior descending artery, which when blocked limits all blood flow to the left side of the heart, causing the heart to cease beating regularly.
According to Dr. Gary Niess, an interventional cardiologist from Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute, when this happens, mortality is more likely than a blockage in another artery.
“The widow-maker is a colloquial name for a certain sort of heart attack,” Niess explained. “Any arterial closure can produce a heart attack in which the heart muscle dies, but widow-makers have a greater fatality rate.”
Carter reported that, in addition to the blockage in his widow-maker, he detected another obstruction at 50% in another branch of his widow-maker that cannot be stented until it is 70% clogged.
Cater stated that his physicians encouraged him to make drastic adjustments in his life, and that “after much prayer and sound counsel, I have decided to resign as the senior pastor of Sagemont Church.” Beginning Oct. 1, he will take on a less demanding job as vice president of church planting and church mobilization for the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board.
“I talked to numerous pastors who left the pastorate and came to NAMB, and they all said it’s a much less stressful than pastoring a local church,” he added. “To summarize, I’m 48 years old, will be 49 in a few weeks, have had cancer twice, and have quickly worsening heart problems.” It’s past time for me to change.”