By Jerry Mintz
Surprisingly it didn't quite dawn on me at first. But in retrospect it is easy to see that your life can end in a flash. At the time I knew it was a heart attack, but maybe because I walked into the hospital I didn't realize how serious it was. It was a 100% block of the artery from the heart they call the "widow maker." If I had been in on a jet in the middle of the Pacific or in the rural part of a developing country it might have been a different story.
The first lesson to take from this is to call an ambulance! Instead I had someone drive me to the closest hospital, but it turned out that they didn't have the ability to do catheterization. So they had to take me by ambulance to another one. That half-hour extra could have been crucial, as a 1 1/2 hour window is the current gold standard.
So I was in the hospital three days. Ten days later I had a stress test that indicated that my heart was operating below proper efficiency, although I was cleared to do about anything I wanted.
But the most important thing that happened at that point was that an AERO reader sent me two books by cardiologist Dr. Joel Fuhrman. The key one is called Cholesterol Protection for Life. Furman practically guarantees that you won't have another heart attack very soon if you follow his regime. It means practically a vegan died (occasional fish and eggs), lots of leafy greens, no grains but oatmeal, low salt, no added sugar, no oils! I took the whole situation as a challenge and started following the diet, along with regular gym workouts and lots of high-level table tennis. But I still had to take four of the five medications the cardiologist insisted on, including a statin and Plavix. The latter is supposed to prevent the stent from clogging.
For the first two months my legs got pretty tired after an hour of table tennis. But eventually I got my stamina and energy back.
One thing that worried me is that the damage of a heart attack can make your heart much less efficient, enlarging the heard and sometimes eventually requiring a pacemaker and leading to heart failure. This actually happened to another player at my league who now has a pacemaker.
After four months I lost 15 pounds, my blood pressure was 110 over 70, and my total cholesterol was 116!
And when they did a follow up echocardiogram, the cardiologist said the heart efficiency had gone up above the danger level.
I've been exploring the possibility of stopping the statins since the cholesterol is so low. Statins are known to have long-term side effects. The cardiologist said I could try it for a few weeks and see what happens to the blood numbers.
The support that I've received from readers all over the world (25 countries!) has been very important for me, and has helped a lot with my recovery.
So that's about it at this point. We're working as hard as ever in the office. They say I can fly wherever I want and I've been invited to speak at a few places.
And I'm now quite sure that I'm mortal! So I don't want to waste any time!