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On Christmas Eve I had a serious heart attack. I passed out to start, but the pain wasn't particularly awful and I eventually decided to go to the emergency room after an hour and a half or so. I took a couple of aspirin somewhere early on. Once I was there they said that sure enough I was having a heart attack and rolled me off to surgery. It turned out to be a 100% blockage of the right coronary artery. They went in through my right wrist, cleaned out the blockage and put in three stents. Pretty amazing! Hardly a mark on me and I've felt fine ever since (with one small exception).

Four and a half years ago I was feeling some chest pains occasionally. I went to a cardiologist and got all sorts of tests and he told me that all my numbers were dubious: none in the red range but all yellow. That's cholesterol, blood pressure, pre-diabetic markers, etc. He said he wanted me on statins. I said no. I asked about other choices to fix things and he said there were none. I ignored his advice.

So I retired at 53 as I was planning to (cutting stress way down, although with four teenagers at the time I couldn't eliminate all stress) and started eating vegan (hey, that's why I'm posting here!). Within three months my numbers were better and within six months they were all green. I lost some weight as an unintended side effect, only 20 pounds or so but it put me back at my high school weight. And I stuck to my dietary change because it made me feel better, making some exceptions here and there.

Occasional blood tests showed that everything stayed good. They list six major risk factors for heart attack: smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history, and being male. Only the last applies to me. Yet here I am. The doctor who operated on me, when I asked him what would have happened had I not come in (as I was considering), told me I'd have died by the next day. He also told me I have a 70% blockage on a left coronary minor branch that they didn't touch.

So for the umpteenth time in my life I haven't died when perhaps I ought to have. It makes for some good stories. I don't know what, if anything, I can change to reduce my chance of another heart attack. They wanted me to take five different drugs (aspirin, Plavix, a statin, a beta blocker, and an ACE inhibitor); I've consented to the first three, although I don't like it and want to get off of them as soon as I can. Perhaps I'll try to exercise more regularly, although right now they are telling me to take it very easy (so I'm not mentioning the six mile hike I took last week just to see if it would cause any problems; it didn't).

My only real point in posting is to suggest to people that they not get complacent, even if they are eating right. The right diet doesn't fix everything, and even when you aren't at risk by the usual measurements that bad things can still happen. So keep an eye on things.

Personally, I'm happy to still be around. I attribute it to the good judgment of my wife, who decided it would be best to go to the emergency room when we did, and then took me there. Maybe that's one of the reasons that married people tend to live longer. I also attribute it to the skill of my surgeon, who did a great job with no noticeable side-effects.

So don't worry, but do eat dessert first!

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