The Impact of Lifestyle Changes on Heart Health: A Personal Story

Key Takeaways:

  • Scott Kern, initially a sedentary executive, makes lifestyle changes after realizing the risks of heart disease due to a lack of regular exercise and unhealthy eating habits.
  • Despite a rigorous health regimen and a shift to a plant-based diet, Scott suffers a heart attack – a life-changing incident that further solidified his commitment to a healthier lifestyle.
  • About his recovery, Scott had to relearn basic motor functions. He gained confidence to increase his heart rate again through a cardiac rehabilitation program, which was a significant step towards his recovery.
  • Post-recovery, Scott prioritizes exercise, a healthy diet, and a balanced work-life including quality time with his family. He becomes an advocate for heart disease awareness, CPR training, and the use of AEDs.
  • The importance of regular check-ups and listening to your body is emphasized, highlighting the significance of a healthy lifestyle, diet, and exercise regime.

Scott Kern was a typical work-driven executive, putting in long hours managing a series of discount stores. With strict work schedule and family duties, finding time for a workout was almost an impossibility. He was based in Norfolk, Virginia and while in good condition overall, the importance of regular exercise hadn’t been a part of his routine for years. Anchored to a seat most of the day and living with a family history of heart disease, Scott realized that it was time to make some lifestyle changes.

An Awakening to a Healthier Lifestyle

Scott’s wife, Trisha, had always been the more health-conscious of the two. She gradually introduced healthier meals into their diet and incessantly nudged Scott towards regular exercise. Her concerns stemmed not only from the knowledge of Scott’s family history of heart disease but also from his growing up on a traditional New Orleans diet filled with butter and fried delicacies.

These concerns eventually sparked a determination in Scott. He began 2018 with a resolution to pursue a healthier lifestyle and started visiting the gym regularly. His workout comprised of weightlifting followed by sessions on the elliptical machine. However, his past sedentary life became apparent when he found the cardio exercises quite challenging.

Signs of an Unseen Problem

As part of his corporate benefits, Scott was entitled to a complete health checkup. He scheduled this appointment for February 20. However, the day prior, during his early morning gym session followed by another long workday, disaster struck. Scott collapsed in his office.

The immediate reaction of his colleagues Dan Hay and Jermaine Bennett, who had been trained in CPR, and their quick decision to call 911 saved his life. Another co-worker fetched an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) from the wall – a device used to help correct irregular heart patterns. Together, they worked to resuscitate Scott until the emergency medical team arrived and transported him to a nearby hospital.

The Road to Recovery

Scott’s condition necessitated the use of a ventilator and he was kept in a medically induced coma. His recovery was slow, almost glacial, and there were times when the medical team feared he may not wake up. However, Trisha held onto hope and promised herself that her husband would come home.

Reviving Scott from his coma was a long process and it wasn’t until the tenth day, coinciding with their daughter Katie’s birthday, that he finally regained consciousness. Further diagnosis revealed that Scott had suffered a heart attack caused by obstruction in two of his heart’s arteries. He also contracted a rare complication – an infection in his lungs likely from food particles lodged there during the lifesaving CPR procedure.

From Recovery to a Reshaped Life

Post his coma, Scott went through extensive therapy to regain basic motor functions which he had lost. His road to recovery included learning to write again and gradually regaining the use of his legs. By the end of April, Scott was ready to go home.

With ongoing care, Scott’s condition improved significantly. In June, he started attending cardiac rehabilitation program which soon restored his confidence to increase his heart rate without the fear of health risks. He resumed work in July and by September, his work-life balance underwent a drastic change for the better – he would no longer be the first to arrive at work. Scott’s mornings were now reserved for exercise and breakfasts with his daughter.

The Beginning of a New, Healthier Lifestyle

Having witnessed firsthand the impact of an active lifestyle and healthier food habits, Scott and Trisha started advocating for heart disease awareness, the need for CPR training and the use of AEDs. They partnered with a local office of the American Heart Association, sharing their experiences and promoting healthier lifestyle changes.

Scott has pivoted towards a mainly plant-based diet and regular exercise scheduling. Relationship-building and spending quality time with family have taken precedence in his life. He is proud of his new work-life balance, his renewed commitment to his health, and the stronger bonds he has built within his family and community.

“I feel better than ever,” Scott shared. “Totally energized.”

Remember to consult your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet or fitness regimen. Regular check-ups and listening to your body can help detect any potential issues early. The power of regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a balanced lifestyle cannot be underestimated.

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Story by Diane Daniel.

Diana Wells

Hello, wonderful readers! I'm Diana Wells, a writer, dedicated mother of two, and a passionate blogger with an emphasis on life’s most intricate journeys. Amidst the chaos of daily life and parenting, I've found solace and purpose in penning down experiences, particularly in the realms of health and mental wellbeing.Being a mother has not just blessed me with joy, but it has also opened my eyes to the complexities of mental health. From postpartum challenges to the daily stresses that many of us face, I understand the importance of nurturing our minds alongside our bodies.My writings aim to shed light on these often overlooked aspects of health. Whether you're seeking guidance, a sense of community, or simply looking to understand more about mental health, I'm here to provide a fresh, empathetic perspective. Let's navigate the winding paths of our minds together, finding strength, understanding, and hope in each other's stories.Thank you for allowing me to share my passion with you. Let's prioritize our mental wellbeing and celebrate the small victories along the way!
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