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Name: Pat M

Age: 66

Ornish Site: Island Heart Care

Health Challenges: Pre-hypertension, 2 artery blockages

Greatest Motivation: I’m excited to say that I’m surfing again – even more than I was before. I’m even able to mountain bike and road bike again. While on the medications, I was advised not to bike and risk a fall that could lead to significant blood loss. Now, that’s not an issue. I also accomplished another major goal – during a recent visit with my cardiologist, I was able to eliminate the use of all the medications I was taking, except low-dose aspirin.

His Story:  In the fall of 2015, I went out with one of my sons to enjoy a day of surfing. I quickly realized that something wasn’t right with my health because I was having difficulty paddling. Following that experience, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor’s office and had an electrocardiogram (EKG) completed. The Nurse Practitioner told me that there “could” be an issue with my heart and they would schedule a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist, which would be in several weeks.

The sooner you can begin the transition, the sooner you will achieve a healthier, longer life

I went back to work that day but had a gut feeling that I should look into my condition further, so I followed-up again with the physician’s office. I requested a copy of my EKG and did some research on online. What I found seemed to confirm my fears that something was seriously wrong with my heart. I consulted with my physician’s office and was prescribed some additional medications; I reluctantly filled the prescriptions, disappointed in knowing that I would likely be taking the medications for the rest of my life.

Still feeling like there was a more urgent need for follow-up care, with my doctor’s blessing, I scheduled an appointment with an off island cardiologist that could see me sooner. Prepared for a standard visit and a return home that same day, I soon learned that I would not be going home. Two major blockages were found in my arteries, one artery was 95% blocked and another was 50% blocked. I was immediately scheduled for emergency surgery the next morning. I learned that day that I could have had a heart attack and died – that was a real eye-opener. My son said that “surfing saved my life.”

After my surgery, I wasn’t provided with any comprehensive medical advice to change my lifestyle, but I knew that there had to be other options besides taking medications for the rest of my life. I again started researching on my own, and that’s when I came across Dr. Ornish’s books for reversing heart disease. I liked what I read. I was already exercising regularly and had previously practiced stress management through yoga and meditation, so those aspects were familiar to me. I combined those two elements with a low-fat, vegetarian diet and started to practice the program independently. At the time, the program wasn’t available locally, so I contemplated traveling to a neighbor island to participate. Thankfully, everything came together and during my enrollment process it was announced that Island Heart Care would be offering the program on the island where I live.

I was very enthused to participate in Ornish Lifestyle Medicine (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation). I was aware of all of the lifestyle elements, but Dr. Ornish put them together in an excellent program and pointed a cohesive pathway forward for me. Participating with the rest of the cohort members provided positive reinforcement. Along the way we became a close-knit hui (Hawaiian for group). The program’s phenomenal health care team solidified my knowledge and increased my motivation. They were fully devoted to each individual’s success. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in the program, to Island Heart Care, and for the outcomes that I’ve achieved as a result. Altogether, the program provided a fantastic team and experience. I have already recommended the program to friends and family, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is considering joining. I also encourage people not to hesitate – time goes by so fast and the sooner you can begin the transition, the sooner you will achieve a healthier, longer life. The transformation won’t happen overnight, but you’ll get there.

Now I’m excited to say that I’m surfing again – even more than I was before. I’m even able to mountain bike and road bike again. While on the medications, I was advised not to bike and risk a fall that could lead to significant blood loss. Now, that’s not an issue. I also accomplished another major goal – during a recent visit with my cardiologist, I was able to eliminate the use of all the medications I was taking, except low-dose aspirin. That, along with feeling better physically and mentally, is what keeps me motivated. Now I’ve set a new goal – to live an active life for another 30 years!

 

 

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