Four years ago, Tom DeVries was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. As if the diagnosis wasn't enough, he also found out his coronary arteries were almost completely clogged
“The left one was 90% blocked so I was in real trouble.” said DeVries.
Tom had two stents placed to get his blood flowing properly and was put on medication to control his high cholesterol and high blood pressure. After his procedure, Tom was enrolled in cardiac rehab. Four years later he still comes to the workout program.
“I weighed 343 pounds and my doctor told me to lose 50 pounds, well I lost 100 pounds.” said DeVries.
High cholesterol played a tremendous role in Tom's poor heart health. Now your body needs cholesterol to function properly, it's just a problem when there's too much in the blood stream. More often than not, high cholesterol is our own fault by making poor personal choices.
“You would never go down to your car dealer and pay money for waste oil to be put in your car; but every time you don't eat healthy, every time you don't exercise regularly, you are doing the same thing! You are paying money to put bad things into the most important motor that your body has.” said Dr. Michael Hibbard a cardiologist at the North Central Heart Institute.
Genetics can also play a role in why some people have higher levels in their blood stream, but that's where medications come in. Pills can help significantly cut the risk of heart attack and stroke but the biggest factor is maintaining a healthy body weight.
“If you just get down to your ideal bodyweight like high school, and you exercise regularly you reduce your risk 80%. No pills, no doctor bulls, no scans, no risky operations, it's a no-brainer.” said Dr. Hibbard.
That held true for Tom. A smaller waist line wasn't the only benefit of his weight loss.
“You know anytime that you can get rid of a pill to me that's pretty good and I got rid of three of them! And big pills!” said DeVries.
Even with the advances of modern medicine, the time to make heart healthy choices is today, before you end up in need of a stent or open heart surgery. If anyone has doubts they can do it, Tom says take his story into consideration.
“It makes it a little easier for them to know that somebody else has done this and their loved one has a chance to do this also.” said DeVries.
Another way to determine your risk for heart and vascular disease is to schedule an appointment with Planet Heart and get yourself screened. For more information about managing high cholesterol just call 877-AT-AVERA.