“I was walking with some co-workers to dinner after a company meeting and I felt an undeniable pressure on my chest,” Mike remembered.
He admitted it was hard to keep up with the group, but he didn’t say anything to his teammates. The next day he went to the doctor and found out his troponin levels (regulatory proteins that indicate cardiac muscle function) were high. Next, he went to a cardiologist who did a stress test, but after 15 minutes running on the treadmill, everything came back fine. He went home thinking it was just a one-time thing.
But the next day while he was out shopping with his wife, Nikki, the chest pressure returned. He called his brother who is a doctor who encouraged him to go back to the cardiologist for more tests. It was a Sunday, so Mike said he would call the next day. But the pain kept coming back, so Mike asked Nikki to take him to the ER.
After several tests and a cardiac catherization, Mike discovered he had two arteries with 100% blockages and a third artery with a 90% blockage. Without having much time to digest this news, Mike was scheduled for triple bypass to open the arteries and prevent the worst-case scenario: a heart attack.
“This was a blessing,” said Mike. “It’s funny to say it like that, but I wouldn’t be here to share my story if I hadn’t gone to the doctor.”
The episode also meant major lifestyle changes for Mike. He changed his diet, exercises more and has lost nearly 80 pounds since his surgery.
“The hardest part was the emotional and mental recovery,” admitted Mike. “I couldn’t drive and I needed help with a lot of normal things because I couldn’t move around after the surgery. Sitting still isn’t easy for me.”
So Mike took to walking, even before he began cardiac rehab, a program to regain heart muscle function after cardiac surgeries and events.
“I would ask Nikki to drive me to a nearby park and I would spend a couple of hours just walking around at my own pace,” remembered Mike. “It was the best I could do from going stir crazy indoors.”
All that walking and lifestyle changes have paid off. Mike is now healthier than ever and has returned to work, where his company now supports the American Heart Association with an annual campaign.
“Life is Why We Give is for people like me,” said Mike. “When you donate, the funds go directly to research and education for procedures, therapies and equipment that saves lives.”
Learn more or donate here.
Our mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been fighting heart disease and stroke, striving to save and improve lives. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and stroke ranks second globally. Even when those conditions don’t result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. We want to see a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.