Hold on to your Heart: A cautionary tale
As an advocate for lifestyle optimization, I have seen that for many patients, changes are often not made until the heart disease has progressed to a life-threatening level. My hope is that through sharing my these patients’ stories, that others may learn and avoid the need to put their own lives on the line to take the message to heart. It is my great privilege and joy in life to be practice medicine and bring health to my patients. Yet through my years of training and experience, I have come to realize the limitations of our medical tool box. I have come to see time and time again, that the lasting life changing improvements I’ve helped to bring to patients lives’ were achieved through diet and exercise.
Case#1 -Hold onto your heart
I was a person who considered french fries my daily vegetable intake. I figured if it can’t run or fly and be doused with BBQ sauce, it wasn’t worth eating. My exercise consisted of picking up the remote control from the counter and sitting back down on the couch to watch TV. I was used to my high intake, low output lifestyle, but he was ignoring the signs of my heart. After years of doctors visits and medications, my His heart had given up trying to tell Bob that it wanted to be fed with fresh nutrients, free of fats, that it wanted to pump to make Billy move and enjoy life. Through this neglect, the processes of hypertension and atherosclerosis quickly took hold and soon, Billy’s heart was nothing more than a lump in his chest taking up space.
By the the time Bob finally started listening to the pain his dying heart was sending him, and came to see me, there was little we could do. Bob came to me morbidly obese, his heart was so diseased that the only possible solution would be to take out his heart and replace it with a new one. A dangerous procedure with long-term complications. However, it was the only way to save Bob’s life. Yet there was one problem. Bob had become so obese, that the surgeons could not operate on him unless he could lose some weight.
This is the point my counseling with Bob began to transform his life. He realized he had passed a point of no return and he could choose to allow life to keep happening to him as he always had, or he could take a stand to make some positive changes in his lifestyle. With my guidance, Bob took responsibility for himself and started to cultivate a new outlook and self discipline. By adopting a vegan diet and starting to get real forms of exercise, Bob was able to lose the 40lbs he needed to undergo his surgery.
Bob waited until the last possible moment after years of ignoring the information and warning signs around him, such as his shortness of breath with activity and lying down at night, the occasional chest pains, and the increased swelling in his legs. He was able to prolong his life from the age of 50, but not without first losing his own heart. The effect of diet and exercise is never too late to change a life, but had it been incorporated by Bob just a few years earlier, he may have avoided the risky and complicated procedure all together.
I share this information not to blame Bob for what he went through, but to applaud him for having the courage to make lifestyle changes before it was too late; and with the hope that others may listen to their hearts and give their bodies the nutrition and activity it needs long before their body’s most important muscle dies of neglect. Celebrate your body by choosing to eat an informed balanced diet high in vegetables, fruits and plant-based protein. Express your bodies innate abilities to move through exercise that makes you feel good. You will find that you will be more in tune with your heart and that your life will be infused with new vitality and passion. You will find that by nurturing a rejuvenated body, you will be able to avoid putting in someone else’s old heart.