LOS ANGELES — It’s Heart Health Awareness Month, a time to remember that heart conditions can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions.
Steve Peters, a 57-year-old game designer from Culver City, is a perfect example. Last year he began to find it difficult to do the things he enjoyed, such as riding his bike to the beach. Even climbing stairs became a challenge.
“I was getting out of breath very easily, and just assumed it was because I was overweight and out of shape,” Peters said. Peters suffered from high blood pressure and type 2 Diabetes, but said those conditions were under control with medication and that shortness of breath was not something he had experienced before.
One day he was walking home from lunch with friends and had to stop six times to catch his breath.
“My chest was tight. It felt like I was having a heart attack,” he said.
At that point, he knew it was time to get it checked out. Within the week, he ended up in the intensive care unit at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, where a sonogram of his heart and chest revealed one liter of fluid surrounding his heart.
Upon extracting the fluid around his heart, Peters said, “I immediately felt 100 percent better, like a Ferrari engine had been put in me.”
After this health scare, his cardiologist, Dr. Jennifer Nguyen, worked with him to implement lifestyle changes to further reduce his risk of having a heart attack.
“Based on his risk factors, I told him that he is at increased risk of having a heart attack and needed to make a major lifestyle change,” Dr. Nguyen said.
Since Peters had struggled to lose weight in the past, Nguyen recommended he adopt a plant-based diet, which he has been adhering to since last June.
He already lost 25 pounds and hopes to lose 25 more.
“My Type 2 Diabetes is turning around and my blood work is finally in the normal range,” he said, adding that he hopes to get off some of his medications soon. “I’m not the kind of guy that likes to count calories, but it has been easier than I thought to avoid meat, dairy and processed sugar.”
He admits that he allows himself a few “cheat days” every now and then. Peters is taking charge of his health and urges others to do the same.
“What I learned over the last year is that if something doesn’t feel right, don’t be shy about it. Don’t ignore it. Bring up your concerns to your doctor. They can only act on information you give them.
Wave Staff Report