The Power of Positive Lifestyle ChangesBy his own admission, Bruce H. was “cutting a broad swath through life,” eating what he liked, smoking, not exercising and ignoring the fact that his father had two heart attacks. Life was good—until early one morning in 2014 when he woke up not feeling well. He tried to ignore the pain and pressure in his chest. “I figured I’d have a cup of coffee and rub some dirt in it and I’d be fine,” he recalls.
But he wasn’t fine. Bruce was having a heart attack. When he finally woke his wife to say he wasn’t feeling well, he remembers thinking, “This must be what it feels like right before you die.”
Minutes later he was in an ambulance on his way to Inova Alexandria Hospital, where he underwent urgent cardiac catheterization and emergency triple coronary artery bypass surgery.
The changes Bruce has made in his life since his heart attack have been inspiring. “I lost 70 pounds, I go to the gym every day and I quit smoking,” he says. His lifestyle changes have been so dramatic that Bruce’s medications have been drastically reduced and Dr. Lawrence Rubin, his Virginia Heart cardiologist, says his prognosis is very good.
“I keep telling Dr. Rubin that I am trying to be his best patient,” Bruce says. “Dr. Rubin is totally on top of his stuff and he is great about working with me.” Bruce’s remarkable transformation has earned him the “Lifestyle Change Award” from the American Heart Association, but his greatest reward would be in knowing that his changes motivate others to do the same—before it’s too late.
“You can learn a lot about life riding in the back of an ambulance,” he says. “I thought I was invincible. But I was wrong. And I learned it the hard way.”