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Patient Turns Heart Health Around at Cardiac Rehab

Published on Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Even before John Haggerty had a "minor" heart attack four years ago, he had a few risk factors against him:

  • High blood pressure (in the ambulance, his blood pressure was 210/140)
  • Obesity (his highest weight was 370)
  • Stress
  • Lack of regular exercise
  • Heavy smoker
  • Type 2 diabetes

John considers himself fortunate. Three of his heart’s arteries were 95% occluded (closed). He was able to avoid open heart surgery with a stent in each artery. He did a lot of thinking the 10 days he was in the hospital. If he continued on his present path, his heart was not going to be very happy, and he could die. If he slowly started changing his lifestyle, the depression he was experiencing might lift, and he could minimize the risk of another heart event.

His cardiologist referred to McLaren Bay Region’s Cardiac Rehab Program. "As I went through the education and exercise programs, I took a hard look at what could happen to me if I didn’t make some lifestyle changes. The staff made me feel comfortable, yet they helped me make the motivation for change ‘my decision.’ The encouraged me to take small steps and keep building on them. And, to my benefit, not to make all the changes at once.

Here’s John Haggerty’s profile in 2007:

  • He changed his eating habits. No more take out. He eats skinless, boneless turkey and chicken, more fruits and vegetables, more dietary fiber, and just juice and water. In April, he had lap-band surgery to restrict how much food he could eat. He’s lost 80 pounds. His target weight is 220.
  • He’s on a statin drug to keep his cholesterol under control.
  • He’s off one of his diabetic medications and one of his blood pressure medications.
  • He’s joined the Y, and comes regularly to Cardiac Rehab to exercise.
  • He feels positive about his life and has gained self-esteem. He recently played golf for the first time in a very long time. He’s acting with the Bay City Players.

"The thing that has been hardest is to quit smoking. I’ve cut way down. I know I’ll find the will to quit. I’m no longer out of breath all the time. I’ve decided exercise will always be part of my life. I’ve learned anything’s possible, and I’m choosing to enjoy life."