“If I can prevent a heart attack or an early symptom detected in others I would feel blessed to do it. The ER doctor I saw has told me I’m lucky to be alive with where the blockages was located. The scary part is the pain was not intense at all. Had I not been informed, I would have probably disregarded the symptoms and who knows what the outcome would have been.
I began my Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less class in October 2015. I was making very good progress and starting to faithfully increase my cardio workout when I had a heart attack. Yes, on 12/13/15 I had a heart attack (thus I missed one class as I was in ICU at the hospital). I had 100% blockage in my “widow maker” artery and 99% blockage in another artery. I now have two stents in my heart. My symptoms were more like “whispers” versus screams. A heart attack often is not how it’s portrayed on TV and in movies. Mine was unnoticeable from a chest pain perspective, yet major blockage was occurring in my heart. There is no history of heart disease in my family. I had some slight tightness in my chest and shortness of breath while walking the track at UNC- Asheville the week leading up to the heart attack, but chalked it up as being out of shape. I broke my fibula and tibia in April of 2015 (so glad 2015 is over) and was immobile for some time. Anyway, in the wee hours of 12/13 I was awakened with jaw pain and teeth chattering chills, followed by an uncomfortable feeling in my ears/neck/upper chest – almost like a “brain freeze” when you drink something cold too fast. I Googled it and they all added up to a possible heart attack, so we went to the ER.
That was my wake-up call. I think where I got in trouble was how immobile I have become with a very demanding DESK job, so I spend 8-10 hours sitting at my desk, a total of an hour sitting in my car commuting to and from work and then when I get home I’m typically so exhausted I just want to prepare dinner and watch TV. I believe the lack of exercise and internalizing stress is what resulted in my heart attack. I have bought a Fitbit to track my activity level and I am trying to get 10,000 steps in daily.
I have made changes in my diet to eat even healthier. I am so thankful for the Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less program and my instructor, Jenni. I believe my lack of activity (I’ve had a desk job for 30 years) is what made my heart unhealthy. My cardiologist states if I don’t make required changes in my life I WILL be having bypass surgery in 5-10 years. I’m only 49.
Going into the program, my goal was to lose 10 pounds. I surpassed that goal and lost a total of 15 pounds and have greatly improved my overall health. My initial blood pressure before starting the class was 185/78, now it is 117/69. My waist circumference was 42, it is now 38. I passed my goal for this class, but I am confident I can continue to incorporate all I learned to take off an additional 10 pounds. Having the heart attack has put all of this into glaring perspective. Keep up the good work, Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less, and keep motivating and encouraging everyone to eat healthy and move more! It may save their life like it did mine.”
Rick is the Director of Managed Care for Allergy Partners in Asheville, North Carolina. He participated in the program as a covered benefit from the North Carolina Medical Society, his employer-sponsored health plan.”
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