I had my heart attack 11 years ago. My wife and I own a web design firm and I’m a web developer. We had a late night getting a project out the door and it was 5am in the morning. We had gone home, and I was relaxing watching a little TV before bed. I stood up and felt very dizzy. I told my wife to bring the car around. That I didn’t feel right and should go to the emergency room. About 30 seconds later, I was screaming for her to call 911, that I was not going to make it. I was laying on the floor clutching my chest and was in a cold sweat. My wife said that I was pale as a sheet and that my lips were purple. I was seeing spots and honestly, I thought I was going to die. The paramedics could not have gotten there soon enough. They started shoving baby aspirin in my mouth and hooked me up to an EKG machine. I was informed that I was having a heart attack and they were taking me to a hospital about 30 minutes away since our local hospital was not equipped for heart patients.
A team was waiting for me at the hospital along with a cardiologist. He informed me that they were taking me to the Cath lab and find out what was going on. I had two stents placed in my LAD. I was told that I had almost 100% blockage, however now it was now almost 100% open with the new stents.
The next morning, the cardiologist informed me that I needed quadruple bypass surgery. That I had 3 other arteries that were 40% to 70% blocked. I had my wife bring my laptop to me in the cardiac ICU unit and I found a couple of books written by cardiologists on how to reverse heart disease naturally. I informed my cardiologist (much to his dismay) that I was going to give this diet and lifestyle a shot. It is basically a vegan diet and oil-free. I lost down from 204lbs to 152 in only three months. That was a lot of weight for my small frame at 5’7.
I had a nuclear stress test performed six years ago and they confirmed that I had reduced a significant amount of my blockages and that my heart was getting plenty of oxygen everywhere it needed.
My daily routine is basically the vegan diet (I do cheat on occasion), 1 hour of speed walking in my neighborhood or with Walk at Home DVDs if the weather is bad, 20 minutes of yoga, and 20 minutes of Tai Chi. I also quit smoking immediately after the heart attack, I quit sugar, salt, and caffeine as well. Every now and then I will have a glass of wine, a beer, or Maker’s Mark with a small splash of coke, however, two is my limit and it’s rare. The alcohol makes my heart race because of my meds I believe.
I still get angina on occasion if I exert myself too much after a heavy meal. My biggest problem though is that ever since the heart attack I experience panic and anxiety attacks which I never had before in my life. I control them better these days with Xanax. Large crowds such as concerts, sensations in my chest, and before I go on stage (I play guitar professionally as well) are my trigger points along with stress, and sometimes for no reason at all.
I’m certain that my unhealthy lifestyle before the heart attack contributed mainly to the attack, however, I have a family history of heart disease. Prior to the heart attack, I was a chain smoker and getting virtually no exercise. Our business had taken off and we were working 7 days a week and almost 16 hours daily. Due to being too busy to cook, a typical day was Hardee’s Steak Biscuits with gravy for breakfast, Some type of drive-through fried chicken for lunch, and dinner was “someone call Pizza Hut and have a couple of Super Supremes delivered.”
Today, my numbers are great. My cholesterol is 82, my triglycerides are 120, my blood pressure hovers around 115 over 55, my blood oxygen hovers around 96%, and my resting heart rate is 68. In fact, I’ve been told that my numbers are too low. My doctor has me on Plavix which he says I’ll be on for the rest of my life because of the stents, Metoprolol for blood pressure, Simvastatin for cholesterol, Fenofibrate for triglycerides, a baby aspirin, and Xanax. All of these are low doses, and my doctor says that I could come off the Metoprolol, Fenofibrate, and Simvastatin, however, if I wanted to err on the side of caution, these meds would reduce my risk of having another heart attack.
I still stress myself out with my heavy work and life schedule. I’m working on reducing that these days, however, I have always been a type-A person and enjoy staying busy. I have never been one to sit around and watch TV, although I fall asleep at night watching TV or with a good book.
The main thing is that I’m still here and I enjoy life so much. I just want to live as long as possible and I am constantly researching longevity.