It Won’t Happen To Me – My Lifestyle Changes after a Heart Attack
Testimonial by user Brian Y.
Most of us have seen the Bayer Aspirin TV ad where the person tells you that they had a heart attack. In almost all cases they will tell you, they had no warning or symptoms. Like most, I did not believe that you could not know, yet that is my story. On June 2nd this year at age 54, I had a major heart attack. I had no symptoms leading up to the event and although my blood work numbers were not good, they were not such that anyone said anything.
I woke that morning at the normal time just like every other workday. It had been a restful fun long Memorial Day weekend and I knew there were lots to do at the office. Various symptoms were in progress. I will not go into the details but I knew after 10 minutes that I was having a heart attack as it felt like my chest was going to burst. Nevertheless, unlike the commercial, I knew what was going on and we drove immediately to the hospital. Well not immediately, as there was some heated discussion about calling 911 but I wanted to go on my own. Made it less stressful (not sure why).
I checked into the emergency room at 5:57 AM and by 8:30 AM, I had been transported to a cardiac unit at another hospital and had stents installed to open two clogged arteries.
Now comes the awakening. Lifestyle changes! My bucket list: new rules, 1600 mg of sodium a day, exercise, lose weight and my biggest question was “could I get back to Scuba diving and if so when?”
The doctors told me to lose some weight with no real guidelines. I am 6’2″ and started at 228.6 lbs. Not fat but like a typical middle-aged male I had love handles and a gut (although not from beer) just purely out of shape. Like most, I always had good intentions of maintaining an exercise routine but somehow it always was last on the list. My first impression was that it would be hard to find anything to eat and I would be starving all the time. The first few weeks were the hardest. Our first grocery-shopping trip took three plus hours to go through the store as we had to read every label for sodium content. No, I am not starving – just eating healthier. No more processed food in the diet. The general rule, if it has a barcode on the package – it is out. It costs more and takes more time to prepare the fresh food. I also am working to averages. I do track my input very seriously and I have one day a month where I do not count the numbers and enjoy myself.
With all this data pouring in and knowing I still had lots to do in my life, my epiphany came. If I want to complete more items on the bucket list then I had to change. My other motivating factor was I was told that to back to diving it would require I pass a stress test in October.
I knew that to make all this happen would require commitment and the right equipment. Being in the technology business and loving to do research – off I went. My goal was to find a heart rate monitor and app for my iPhone. My heart rate would play an important factor in getting back to diving. Like everything else I do, I wanted one device with all the applications so it was all in one place.
My search led me to Digifit ANT+ interface to a Garmin Heart Rate belt. I ordered the hardware and received my package in a few days. I downloaded the app from iTunes and we were off.
The application has been through major changes since the original load in late June. The new more intuitive interface is great. The best new feature is the slide to pause feature as on the older version it kept being paused while in my pocket on the walk.
I use the application to track weight, heart rate and blood pressure. I do use another application to track sodium and calorie intake.
Now almost 4 months later I am down 31 lbs, with an average sodium intake of <1300 per day walking 45 minutes per day and other cardio for 15 minutes most days. Being able to track my heart rate and determine the zones as I walk was instrumental in achieving my goals. Especially with a stress test looming ahead, I wanted to know if I could pass or not. Using the Digifit to gradually increase my levels I was able to achieve my goal earlier than anticipated and was able to go back to diving without a stress test. At my last appointment with the cardiologist, I was encouraged when he explained that if my numbers continued to look this way he may be able to reduce my meds starting in February. Stents, Hospital Stay & heart Medications – Unspeakable $$$ Digifit w/Software – $65 Control of my Health – Priceless