Dr. Chauncey W. Crandall, author of Dr. Crandall’s Heart Health Report newsletter, is chief of the Cardiac Transplant Program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. He practices interventional, vascular, and transplant cardiology. Dr. Crandall received his post-graduate training at Yale University School of Medicine, where he also completed three years of research in the Cardiovascular Surgery Division. Dr. Crandall regularly lectures nationally and internationally on preventive cardiology, cardiology healthcare of the elderly, healing, interventional cardiology, and heart transplants. Known as the “Christian physician,” Dr. Crandall has been heralded for his values and message of hope to all his heart patients.

Tags: advice for good health | medical advice | heart health | eating right | exercising | reducing stress | battle against heart disease

Ignoring Advice Proves Deadly

Thursday, 25 October 2012 08:32 AM

When I share my patients’ cases, I usually choose an upbeat story about someone who worked hard and won their battle against heart disease. But every so often, I feel the need to share a story that didn’t end well — if only to underscore what a deadly challenge heart disease poses.

Recently one of my closest friends succumbed to heart disease. He was only 56, and I know he’d want me to share his story with my readers so you can strengthen your resolve to beat this needless killer. I met Jim (not his real name) 15 years ago. We bonded immediately. Jim was a charming and gregarious man, as befit his position as an executive at a major international corporation.

I marveled over how he used his powerful position to do good for our Palm Beach County community. Jim was a philanthropist at heart; if anyone needed support for a cause, they could always count on him. Though just 41, Jim already had heart disease. “If you follow my recommendations, you can beat this,” I assured him.

Jim took my recommendations seriously, and together, we instituted a healthy eating and exercise plan. Jim, who weighed 250 pounds, lost weight, pared his waistline, and boosted his energy.

'If You Keep This Up, You’ll Have a Heart Attack'

But about five years ago, I began to be alarmed. Jim, who had always loved to eat, was growing big. As an executive overseeing a sprawling business, he was constantly entertaining clients, and it was always in a luxurious way. No vegetarian fare for this crowd; they had martinis and porterhouse steaks instead. Not only was Jim’s career on the ascent, his weight was too. He crept back up to 250 pounds and added another 50 to his previous high.

I insisted that he take a stress test, and he’d passed it. But after that he began skipping his scheduled appointments. Finally, he came to see me.

“Jim, you’re weight is really out of control,” I told him. “I’m worried about you. If you keep this up, you’re going to have a heart attack.”

“I know you’re right,” Jim answered, earnestly. “I promise you I’ll do what you say.”

To help him, I began to schedule office visits every two to three weeks. He kept them for several months, but when Jim started canceling again, I went to visit him at his office.

He looked genuinely delighted to see me. “You’re right,” he told me, “I’m going to cut down on all the entertaining. Some of it isn’t necessary anyway.”

I got together with Jim’s assistant to make sure that when he was at work, he had a selection of heart-healthy snacks to choose from. I suggested fruits, sliced vegetables, and almonds. I worked with his wife to show her how to prepare heart-healthy meals.

With Jim finally on board, I had every expectation we would be successful, and I’d have my friend around for a long time. “I’m really motivated to change this time,” Jim said. We even shook hands on it. But it was not to be. Just a few weeks later, Jim was brought to the hospital, a victim of a massive heart attack. He was still conscious, and we spent his last few minutes together.

“I knew I hadn’t been taking care of myself,” Jim murmured. There was nothing else we could do.

Don’t Let Change Come Too Late

Doctors are instructed to maintain a professional distance with their patients, but this quickly falls away, especially when you live in a small community and your patients sit alongside you on community boards. We come to view our patients as our friends. We share in their joys and their sorrows, and we become very close.

Jim’s passing at such a young age was particularly devastating to me because I knew full well it was unnecessary. Patients like Jim always say, “I’ll change,” but they never realize that, by the time that happens it could be too late.

Don’t let Jim’s death be in vain. The fight against heart disease is winnable! Doctors have great tools to help you, but in the end each person is responsible for his or her own health. Eating right, exercising, and reducing your stress are indispensable in the battle against heart disease.

You ignore these things at your own risk.

© HealthDay

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Thursday, 25 October 2012 08:32 AM
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