At 42 years of age I experienced a Heart Attack caused by a blockage to my circumflex artery. Since I was more then three days away from the nearest available Heart Center, the delay in proper cardiac care resulted in damage to my heart. Less then three weeks later, I experienced sudden cardiac arrest followed by 31 days on the critical care cardiac unit. Things worsened in the weeks, months, and years following. In a very short time I went from being a young guy with a bright future to a young guy dying of heart disease who was dependent on over 13 medications.
At this point things were starting to look pretty hopeless. The more medications I took, the sicker I seemed to become. Stopping this steady downward spiral my heart had taken seemed impossible and all the Doctors seemed to agree on that one fact alone. I had made all the dietary changes recommended, and took my medication as directed, but I continued to worsen at an alarming rate. Countless times I listened to doctors say “heart disease is a hereditary/genetic trait, and isn’t reversible”. I was told the bad side effects of the medications were better then what would happen if I didn’t take them. All this made me feel powerless over my condition and completely dependent on medications and doctors visits to live.
At some point along the way after reading some very convincing clinical research belonging to Dr. Caldwel Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinics world renowned heart center, I embarked on a journey that completely and forever changed my life, stopping heart disease dead in its tracks. I began following a Whole Foods Plant Based diet with no oil, consuming only clean Organically grown, GMO free foods. These dietary changes, along with lots of exercise, rest, and modern cardiac care, (pacemaker/defibrillator), allowed me to completely restore my health. Fast forward five years and heart disease is but a distant memory, and so are the 13 different medications I was once told I would need for the rest of my life.
In spite of being a 50-year-old cardiac patient with a clinical history of heart disease, Congestive Heart Failure (Ejection Fraction middle-upper 30’s), Sudden Cardiac Arrest, Atherosclerosis of the arteries, a Stent in my Circumflex artery, a Stent in my coronary artery, and a implanted cardio defibrillator, I am completely symptom free, medication free, and experiencing the most amazing period of health in my life. Wounded Heart Project is my way of sharing what I have learned along the way so others don’t have to die. Heart Disease is the number one killer of our time. It doesn’t have to be that way. Life can go on after Heart Disease…
While working on a construction contract in Afghanistan in 2008, I experienced a heart attack, (myocardial infarction) due to a fully blocked circumflex artery. I was treated in a Slovenian field/tent hospital for three days while awaiting ambulatory care to a heart center. After three days of only being treated with pain medication and nitrates, I was moved to a heart center in Dubai, UAE where stents were placed in my circumflex artery to restore the flow of blood. Unbeknownst to me at this time, the heart attack and subsequent delayed intervention had caused considerable damage to my heart and soon after resulted in an episode of cardiac arrest, (ventricular fibrillation.) Luckily for me, there was a witness; if that person had not been there going into cardiac arrest right then would have resulted in my immediate death. Fortunately, I was one of the few who have been able to be successfully resuscitated during an out of hospital cardiac arrest.
After receiving the appropriate cardiac care which included the installation of a dual lead ICD, my condition stabilized, but not without consequence. All my medications and the multiple surgeries triggered a plethora side effects. Within a one year, my weight went from 230 pounds to 280 pounds. I got dizzy and light headed every time I stood up; sometimes to the point of blacking out and falling to the floor. I constantly felt fatigued. I was not able to do a lot without the smallest efforts leaving me tired and short of breath. At this point, the only exercise for me was simply getting up and slowly peforming daily chores; cooking, shopping, eating, ect… Due to the Plavix and Coumadin thinning my blood, and my constant dizzy state causing me to constantly keep tipping over and bumping into things, I was always bruised, sometimes to the point that people would comment about it. I was having extremely intense muscle pains/spasms in my back that were caused from the high dose of satins I was taking. By the time I recognized the statins as the cause of the back pain, it became so debilitating that it stopped me from being able enjoy most of the activities I enjoyed prior. At this point I couldn’t walk more then five-ten minutes without experiencing pretty severe pain in both my upper and lower back muscles. This was just the beginning I soon realized as many other health problems seemingly blindsided me out of nowhere. When my weight uncontrollably shot up to 280, my sleep apnea became so bad that I needed to wear a C-pap machine/mask at night. I was tired all the time at this point and would doze off so easily while doing any activity that I didn’t even want to drive more then a few miles anymore. I felt completely drained of energy. Even using the C-pap machine/mask at night didn’t completely cure my problem of sleep deprivation because by this point I needed to use the bathroom at least 8 times a night to empty my bladder so it was pretty rare to sleep for more then an hour or so even with the mask and machine. At that point, it seemed like a waste of time even trying to use the mask, and it didn’t stop there. I had multiple bouts of the flu, strep, multiple colds plus I was still experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath frequently as my heart was still very weak. I was at the clinic every week for one thing or another during the first couple years and I needed to carry a big box of medications everywhere I went. If I wanted to leave the house for any amount of time I needed to make sure I had enough medication to take with me, and make sure I had my C-pap machine/mask, and would have a place to plug it in if I would be staying somewhere.
By now I had became really depressed over how miserable I was feeling and how my life had seemed to turn out. One day while visiting with an old friend, he somehow convinced me to read up on juicing as a way to try improving my health so that I could possibly eliminate some of the medications I was taking to see if it made me feel better. After months of reading on the subject of juicing I figured I had nothing to loose so I bought a juicer and began my journey back to health. At first I mainly juiced fresh fruits but little by little i began to concentrate more on juicing fresh vegetables; and little by little I noticed my health begin to improve. It wasn’t long before the doctor was lowering the dosages of many of my meds as my condition started to improve. I continued to read everything I could find on heart healthy foods, and before long I seemed to become more driven from my success triggering even more healthy changes to be made in my life. For the better part of four years, I turned all my attention to learning everything I could about health and natural healing. I began consuming mainly organic/GMO free whole foods while doing my best to eliminate all heavily process foods and toxic ingredients. By now I had read books such as Dr. Campbell’s (China Study), Dr. Esselstyn’s, (Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease), and Dr. Ornish (Reversing Heart Disease). My diet at this point pretty was very similar to what was laid out in these books.
Slowly, I began to exercise pretty regularly while being very cautious since I had been convinced by the doctors that my heart was very fragile. In the beginning, riding my bike for short but frequent bike rides began to pay off and started providing me with renewed energy and confidence to try other activities like ice skating, kayaking, snowmobiling, dirt biking, and many other activities to numerous to mention . It wasn’t long and I was back to doing everything I was able to do before my heart condition(s). The combination of exercise and dietary changes quickly knocked off all the post trauma weight I had gained. I was now 80+ pounds lighter and everything was continuing to get better. In the first couple years, exercising seemed difficult at best. My heart was pretty weak and up until this point I had been given the impression by my doctors that my heart was very fragile and so I need to be careful. Sitting around trying to be nice to my heart had allowed the rest of my body to become very weak so it was slow going at first.
Within a year, my back pain had started to subside enough that I was able to start exercising everyday. I had began to run pretty much every day and could tolerate at least an hour of exercise without being plagued by so many of the symptoms that stopped me just the year before.
Fast forward three years and my health has completely been transformed. I now feel better physically then any other time in my adult life. In three years, I have not had any illness and that includes the mundane ones like the flu. My heart condition does not limit me like it once did. Since experiencing this health transformation, I have competitively competed in many different running/sporting events up to and including a couple marathons. My heart keeps getting stronger.