Inspiring Seniors Health Stories: # 1 - Reversal Of Heart Disease

I want to do this to give hope and inspiration to people going through any health battles, and to highlight that by taking control of our health, we can prevent health issues from occurring.

In today's email, I want to get the 'Inspiring Stories' section started by sharing with you a short story I received from a reader/viewer named Pam.

Pam shares how, after following a heart attack leading to heart failure, she took control of her health and in the process, reversed the heart failure.

Here is the email:

"Hi Mike,

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all of the work you do and the time you are giving to help us oldies to continue keeping fit and healthy.

I am 86 years young next month although my doctor says she always does a double-take when she sees me, expecting to see someone much older.

I joined a gym in 1991 and continued until last year (27 years), only giving up after damaging my shoulder and elbow needing two months of physio and was also becoming bored with the gym. 

I had a heart attack in 2006, resulting in heart damage and consequent heart failure. I had six months of cardio rehab and then continued at the gym. After two years, I had another echocardiogram to discover I no longer had heart failure. My cardiologist was amazed. So continuous exercise for me was my saviour.

Exercising is what I have done all these years and wanting to carry on at home I did a Google search and found your videos on YouTube. I try to follow one each day.

So, Mike, thank you for all you do to help us oldies continue to live healthy, active lives. 

Kind Regards

Pam"

As you can see from Pam's story when she had the cardiac event, she decided to make changes to turn her life around and reaped life-saving benefits.

For those going through a health battle of some sort, I hope you get some inspiration from Pam's story.

With the right mindset and attitude, and when we perform the right actions that are conducive to good health, we can make significant changes to our health and our life.

Think positive, choose the thoughts that feel best and take the right action, and you'll go a long way to improving your health. Don't limit yourself or let anyone place any limitations on you! Also remember, age is just a number!

FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS TO PAM:

What do you feel could have been the cause of the heart attack? (if you feel it was something(s) in particular)

I am not sure of the cause of the heart attack, but my cholesterol was discovered to be very high at the time. I had known for years that it was above normal and so had then changed my diet, cutting out animals fats etc. Another cause could have been a long period of stress two months prior to the attack, or perhaps it was a combination of both.

What were your health habits like prior to the heart attack?

I had always been healthy prior to the attack apart from developing osteoarthritis and was a good weight.

I decided to take early retirement from a very stressful job in 1991 and after losing my partner to cancer. I joined a gym 3 or 4 months later. It was very unusual at that time for people of my age (58), so I was a bit of a curiosity!!

Can you explain your typical exercise routine? (e.g. cardio, weights, stretching etc.)

From 1991 until my attack in 2006, my exercising started with varied gym classes, which included step, pump and stretching etc. and then after a few months started doing my own thing, 30 minutes of cardio, 30 minutes resistance machines and weights. I included yoga classes also for about a year and In 2003 joined a Tai Chi class, but always continued with cardio and resistance machines until my attack in 2006. I exercised three times a week.

After 5/6 months of cardiac rehab at the hospital, I returned to the gym again doing cardio, resistance machines and weights as before and also continued with Tai Chi for a short while, until last year.

I still mow my lawns and keep busy with my garden.

What dietary changes did you make following the heart attack?

The only dietary change made since the attack was cutting out salt where possible and in the past few years have cut out sugar except for the odd Tim Tam now and again.

How do you eat nowadays?

I believe I eat healthily. Mostly chicken and fish, no red meat, lots of fruit and vegetables. I include a homemade curry once a week and pasta once or twice a week.

Is there anything else you do, or feel is helpful for your health along with the diet and exercise? (e.g. stress reduction techniques, etc.)

I keep my mind active, read quite a lot, am a sudoku addict. I believe a healthy brain means a healthy heart. I do get stressed at times and if it is during the day, depending on the weather, I will get outside into the garden or will try reading. I have been told that reading a book can eliminate 30% of stress. If the stress keeps me awake at night, I try the breathing and relaxation techniques. It works sometimes.

For anyone going through something similar, what advice or message would you give them? Anything else that you would like to add

I think we have to try and stay positive. Just keep moving, don't give in, don't become invalid and try to enjoy the things you did before.

I was sent home from the hospital with a booklet on "How to live with Heart Failure". That was really scary. It took several days for it to really sink in. Then I decided that if I had only a couple of years then I didn't want to sit around feeling miserable.13 years have now gone by, and I'm still here

Pam, (Originally from England, now living in New Zealand since 1964)