Arkansas Heart Hospital and Bishop Park Partner for World Heart Day Challenge

Public invited to walk a heart-shaped route to promote a healthy lifestyle

Community members are invited to walk along a heart-shaped path on Friday, Sept. 29, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Bishop Park, 6401 Boone Road. The walk marks World Heart Day, intended to raise awareness for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among Arkansans. The event is organized by the Arkansas Heart Hospital and Bryant’s Bishop Park. The community is invited to join anytime over the course of the event.

Event Highlights Include:

  • Food trucks will be on hand.
  • The Bryant Boys and Girls Club will participate in the heart-shaped route.
  • The Arkansas Heart Hospital will offer free blood pressure screenings to those that participate.
  • Hospital experts will also be on hand to explain the importance of staying active and ways to stay heart healthy.
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Battling life-threatening health conditions, Anthony chose bariatric surgery to save his life and get back to enjoying the outdoors.


I have suffered with weight issues my whole life. I tried every diet under the sun, but none of them worked. I was battling high blood pressure, severe sleep apnea, acid reflux and non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis, and physically I could not do the things I loved.

I looked at my health conditions and knew I had to do something if I wanted to live. After researching bariatric surgery and talking to people who had it, I knew that it was right for me.



My bariatric surgeon and director of BMI, Dr. Samuel Bledsoe, was amazing, kind, polite, informative and helpful when deciding which surgery to have. He wanted what was best for me in the future.

I underwent gastric bypass surgery in March 2022. I will never forget that Dr. Bledsoe prayed with me right before surgery; being a man of great faith was very important to me.

My surgery experience was great. I couldn’t have asked for better staff; they were helpful and kind. They also were very helpful to my wife, making sure she had everything she needed while there. Encore Medical Center was clean and very accommodating.

Recovery was quicker than I thought it would be; I was walking a few hours after surgery. I got to go home earlier than planned because I had done so well. I was back to work within a week, but I could have gone back a few days earlier.


Anthony after gastric sleeve surgeryIn one year, I lost 145 pounds. I can walk without having to sit down every few minutes, hike, enjoy the outdoors, which is very important to me. I never want to sit down! My ultimate goals are to be healthy, enjoy life and enjoy my hobbies.

One of the most important things you need before and after this surgery is a lot of support. And the BMI program is nothing but support. They make sure you have the tools to make your journey a success. They are always available to answer questions or concerns and lead me in the right direction.

If you’re considering surgery, do it! I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It can be hard, but if you follow the plan and do the work, it will be the best decision and investment you’ll ever make. The only regret I have is not doing it sooner.


Weight loss surgery is proven to resolve type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, liver cirrhosis and more. If you’re battling these conditions, our bariatric surgery experts are here to help you regain your health. Start your journey at

Learn about breaking weight loss plateaus.

Gastric sleeve surgery at the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute (BMI) helped Gary lose 150 pounds, prevent health conditions and increase his love for running.

Finding an Alternative to Yo-Yo Dieting

Gary Before Weight Loss SurgeryI have struggled with obesity for most of my adult life. I have tried multiple diet and exercise plans and had some success losing weight, but I always gained it back. In February of 2010, I stepped on a digital scale at home, and it read ‘ERROR.’ When I stepped on the scale at my doctor’s office, it read 330 pounds. I knew I had to take action.

I began running to lose weight. In September 2013, I ran my first half marathon, and in February 2014, I ran my first marathon. While training for my second marathon, I hit 189 pounds.

Shortly after, several things in life changed in a short period of time. I didn’t take the time to exercise and started back to my bad eating habits. I got back up to 250 pounds quickly. I tried several times after that to change my diet and start exercising, even working my way back to a half marathon in December of 2018. But I just felt like I was fighting a losing battle.

With a history of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension on both sides of my family, I felt it was just a matter of time before I developed these conditions.

Taking Action with Weight Loss Surgery

I decided to act by searching for ‘Arkansas Heart Hospital weight loss surgery.’ I followed the steps on to see if my insurance would cover it and if I was a candidate for surgery. The following week I received a call from the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute (BMI) to set up an appointment.

In the spring of 2021, I met with Dr. J.J. Tucker, my bariatric surgeon. At this point, I was not sure if I wanted to go through with the surgery. But Dr. Tucker said something that really stuck with me.

If a person was diagnosed with cancer, they wouldn’t wait until it had progressed to stage four to seek treatment. He said obesity is a disease just like any other disease and needs to be treated as such. Deciding to have surgery should not make us feel like we have failed or given up.  

I knew then that this was the step I needed to take. Since gastric sleeve surgery, I’ve lost around 150 pounds and feel amazing! I no longer have issues with indigestion or reflux. I have learned what to eat and what to stay away from. My wife and I are both healthier and more active than we have ever been.

Gary Weight Loss Surgery Results

Lifetime Tools from BMI

I view my gastric sleeve as a tool; like any other tool, it has a specific purpose. This ‘tool’ came with an instruction manual, my ‘bariatric bible binder,’ and amazing ‘customer support’ from the great team at BMI. The online patient support group serves as ‘customer reviews’ and ‘frequently asked questions.’

After surgery, I’ve completed in many marathons, including Little Rock, RussVegas, St. Jude’s and Mississippi. My ultimate goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

None of this would have been possible without Dr. Tucker, the BMI team and the tool of bariatric surgery.

From insurance approvals to emotional and physical wellness, our weight loss surgery experts are here for you every step of your weight loss and health journey. Take the first step to a second chance at life at

Learn about bariatric surgery options.

Tired of sitting on the sidelines, Brittany changed the course of her life with the help of weight loss surgery at the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute (BMI). 

Taking Charge of her Health through Weight Loss Surgery

I have struggled with my weight since childhood and health conditions since age 20. I was tired all the time, had poor eating habits, and my legs and feet hurt a lot. Even just walking a short distance was taxing on my body. 

I decided to have gastric sleeve surgery at the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute (BMI) to help me have better control over my health and weight and a better quality of life. 

Side by Side Photo of Brittany Before and After Gastric Sleeve Weight Loss Surgery

Impeccable Experience

Dr. Samuel Bledsoe, my bariatric surgeon, gave the most wonderful and caring experience I have had in a long time. Having a doctor pray with me before this life-changing surgery meant the world to me. He made my fears go away before surgery, and I am grateful for him. 

My entire weight loss surgery experience at Arkansas Heart Hospital was impeccable. After surgery, my nurses were so patient, kind and professional. Jackie, CNA, kindly pushed me to drink the fluids I needed and to get moving so I could heal properly. The staff and doctors were available to me if I needed anything. 

I will tell anyone considering bariatric surgery to go to BMI at Arkansas Heart Hospital. I have successfully recommended two of my family members including my father, and six of my coworkers and friends. 

A Whole New Life

Life now is how I always thought it would be and more. My health is better than it’s ever been. I’m no longer diabetic; my A1C went from 10.8 to 5.2. I no longer have high blood pressure and my symptoms from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are so much better. 

I can move easier, and I have more energy. I enjoy traveling without being exhausted and getting in my backyard to play with my dog, Bandit. 

Going into surgery, I set three non-scale goals: sit cross-legged, cross my legs in a chair and fly without a seatbelt extender. I have accomplished them all! 


If excess weight is keeping you on the sideline of life, our personalized attention and innovative surgical options can get you back in the game and can even be a cure for type 2 diabetes. Take the first step to a healthier you at 

Do I qualify for bariatric surgery?

Arkansas Heart Hospital (AHH) announced it has expanded its nationally accredited bariatric services to its clinics in Russellville, Ark., and Texarkana, Texas. Effective Jan. 18, Dr. Oscar Talledo will see patients at the hospital system’s Russellville clinic on the third Wednesday of the month. Dr. JJ Tucker will begin seeing patients in Texarkana on the second Tuesday of the month starting Feb. 9. Both physicians will provide patient consultations and follow-up appointments. All surgeries will be performed at the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at Encore Medical Center in Bryant. 

“We are grateful to Drs. Talledo and Tucker for their willingness to expand their practices and bring their expertise to the patients of Russellville, Texarkana and beyond,” said Dr. Bruce Murphy, CEO of Arkansas Heart Hospital. “With our Bariatric and Metabolic Institute’s recent accreditation as a Center of Excellence, this is the perfect time to expand these services and allow more Arkansans and Texans to receive the transformative health benefits of weight loss surgery.”

To celebrate the new markets, the physicians will welcome patients to their respective clinics for a Weight Loss Surgery Informational Seminar and Clinic Open House. In addition to the opportunity to hear from and ask the physician questions, each session will include bariatric-friendly food tastings, games, giveaways and testimonials by local patients who underwent bariatric surgery.

 Dr. Talledo is a bariatric surgeon, board-certified by the American Board of Surgery. He completed a fellowship in minimally invasive surgery and bariatrics at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and a residency in general surgery at the University of Oklahoma Health and Science Center. He completed medical school at the Universidad de San Martin de Porres in Lima, Peru.


Dr. Tucker is a bariatric surgeon, board-certified by the American Board of Surgery. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons. He completed a fellowship in bariatrics, robotics and minimally invasive surgery at Lousiana State University School of Medicine in Baton Rouge, La, and a residency in general surgery at Wellspan York Hospital in York, Pa. He completed medical school at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine.

Chaplain Smith / Debbie McDaniel

What does the Thanksgiving holiday reveal to you about yourself? Do you live a life of thankfulness? Or is it and emotion or mindset you dust off each year around this time?

Writer Debbie McDaniel said, “I believe that thankfulness is a barometer of our level of Faith. I believe that thanksgiving or the giving of thanks is the expression of Faith. In fact, it may be the highest expression of Faith.”

I tend to agree with her statement. During my years as a missionary, I visited countries where people were living on a tiny fraction of the income of the poorest family in this country. They were hard-working, hopeful and faithful. That faith manifested itself through thankfulness and joy, which was not rooted in their present circumstances but in their Faith in God and a knowledge that He recognized their plight. It was as if they trusted that even if God did not change their circumstances here, they were still better off believing. They believed His word in Psalm 68:19, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Another translation reads, “Praise be to the Lord who daily loads us with benefits.” They had an understanding that not all of God’s benefits were in the form of financial gain or relief.

Unfortunately, I don’t always notice that widespread thankfulness here in what I would term the “Land of Plenty.” Now I know there are people who are poor and struggling and are having a difficult time making ends meet here in our country. There are people that come to us daily that are facing life-changing decisions concerning their health. There are those on our staff that are struggling with marriage issues, loss of a spouse or a child, the repercussions of past or present mistakes and some even facing a financial meltdown. If one of these conditions describes your plight, how are you facing it? With Faith expressed in thankfulness or complaining, blaming and ungratefulness? Remember those in the third world countries are facing those same problems with far fewer resources to rectify those issues. But with an amazing display of Faith, they find ways to be thankful.

Psalm 107:1 reads, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and his love endures forever.” Sometimes it is really a sacrifice to offer praise and thanks. There are times when we may not feel like it. We’re struggling. We’re weary. Or maybe, we feel like God has let us down.

Let me ask you, do you measure God’s blessings by the barometer of health, wealth and happiness only? Do you measure God’s faithfulness to you by what someone else has? If so, be careful. In looking at life that way, you can always find someone who is doing better. If you are not careful, a spirit of ungratefulness can sneak in, and you become filled with bitterness, fear, negativity, selfishness and self-pity. These are some of the Devil’s favorite tools for taking you down.

This season is not always happy for everyone. For some this season serves only as a reminder of what they have lost, and it is difficult to get through the loneliness and pain. We must face those difficulties with the knowledge that God is still good even when he does not give us what we want. You might also get through this season by reaching out to someone who is really struggling and ask God to use you to encourage them.

I have found that, getting up each day and thanking God for the little things gets me off to a good start. I thank him for my wife, my children, my family, saneness(though some may question this), the sunny day or the rainy day. Simple things that for the most part are not owned or directed by me. I try to name at least five or six little things each morning that I am thankful for and throughout the day I try to add to the list. We have a choice, every day, to give Him thanks.

With a heart of thanksgiving, we realize that no matter what we face, God doesn’t just work to change our situations and help us through our problems. He does more. He changes our hearts. His power, through hearts of gratitude and focused minds on Him, releases the grip our struggles have over us. This allows us to live thankfully. If nothing else, Thanksgiving reminds me to be thankful for the things that money cannot buy which keeps me from being controlled by the things that money can buy. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 instructs us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is Gods will for you in Christ.”


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Chaplain Smith | Arkansas Heart Hospital Chaplain Shelby Smith served at a local church for 19 years before joining Arkansas Heart Hospital. Here, he has the opportunity to meet the spiritual needs of patients, their families and our staff. In addition to offering prayer and encouragement, Chaplain Shelby Smith shares a weekly devotional.

Lately, I have been so moved by the losses people are experiencing. From wildfires raging out West to another hurricane on the gulf coast. So many have lost everything. Their homes, vehicles, livestock, memorabilia (pictures, trinkets, etc.). Everything is gone. Even their way of life in some ways has been lost. And with the earthquake in Haiti and the war in Afghanistan, there has been immense suffering and tragic loss of lives.

Here again, we are feeling the sting of the pandemic, and with it, a sense of loss. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a home or the comforts of our “normal” way of life, we are being pressed by life situations beyond our control, which can lead to tension and hopelessness.

What are we to do? How are we to respond? Well, there is an old hymn with the verse that reads, “Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; Take it to the Lord in prayer!”

I have a book of liturgical prayers entitled “Every Moment Holy” that I enjoy reading. Now, I didn’t grow up attending a liturgical church, so there are times when the formality of the liturgy can seem a bit too impersonal. But, then there are other times when the phraseology of the prayers penetrates and communicates exactly what I am feeling but could not express. Yesterday I read a liturgy entitled, “For those who suffer loss.” In this prayer, the writer uses the loss of a home as symbolic of losses we experience in other areas of our lives. I thought I would share those words with you.

Let’s Pray.

O Christ in Whom our lives are hidden, fix now our hope in that which alone might sustain it. O Christ in Whom our treasures are secure, fix now our hope in you. In light of all that was so suddenly lost, O Lord, in light of all we had gathered but could not keep, comfort us.

Our nerves are frayed, O God. Our sense of place and permanence is shaken, so be to us a foundation.

We were shaped by this place, and by the living of our lives in it, by conversations and labors and studies, by meals prepared and shared, by love incarnated in a thousand small actions that became as permanent a part of this structure as any nail or wire or plank of wood. Our home was to us like a handprint of heaven. It was our haven, and now we are displaced, and faced with the task of great labors—not to move forward in this life, but merely to rebuild and restore what has been lost.

Have Mercy Lord Christ.

What we have lost here are the artifacts of our journey in this world, the very things that reminded us of your grace expressed in love and friendship and in shared experience. It is for these reasons we grieve the loss of our home and its contents—we grieve them for what they had come to signify in our stories, for they were charged with such meaning and memory, and woven with so much that is eternal.

We thank you for the presence of friends who would share this burden of grief simply by showing up in the midst of it and grieving with us. We thank you for the small mercies and kindnesses extended. For the grace of thoughtfulness translated into the tiny details of life. For beauty, O Lord, let us not lose sight in our grief, of all that is yet bursting with beauty in this world.

Let us not lose site of the truth that we live in the midst of an unfolding story of redemption, and that even this loss of ours will have its counterpoint at the great restoration.

Let our rebuilding be a declaration that a day will come when all good things are permanent, when disaster and decay will have no place, when dwellings will stand forever, and when no more lives will be disrupted by death, tragedy, reversal, or loss.

So,  by that eternal vision, shape our vision for what this temporary home might become in its repair, O Lord, that in that process of planning and rebuilding we might also streamline our lives for stewardship, for service, and for hospitality in the years ahead.

But those are all tasks for tomorrow, we do not even know yet today the full measure of what we have lost. Today is for mourning. So let us grieve together as those who know the world is broken, but who yet hold hope of its restoration.

Father you are with us in times of plenty and in times of want. You are with us in seasons of comfort and in seasons of discomfort. You are with us in ease and in hardship, in times of gain and in times of loss. You are as present with us in darkness as you are in light. So, make us a pilgrim people whose hearts are freed to face, with JOY intact, any deprivation along this journey, confident that even in losing all comforts we still have you.

Comfort us, O Lord in the wake of what has overtaken us. Sheild us, O Lord, from the hurts we cannot bear. Shelter us, O Lord, in the fortress of your Love.

Shepherd us, O Lord, as we wake each new morning, faced with the burdens of a hard pilgrimage we would not have chosen. But as this is now our path, let us walk it in faith, and let us walk it bravely, knowing that you go always before us and are always with us. Amen

Chaplain Smith / Douglas McKelvey