Banner Health Services  

Wesley's story:
How to be a cardiac survivor


Wesley's story

More than 10 years ago, Wesley had a myocardial infarction and cardiac bypass surgery. Working with the staff at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix has made him into a cardiac survivor. “I think once you are a cardiac patient, you’re always a cardiac patient.''

In 1995, at the relatively young age of 52, Wesley found that five of his arteries were 90 to 100 percent blocked. 

After a successful surgery at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, he underwent hospital counseling sessions on exercise and nutrition. He took that advice to heart.

Wesley has learned a lot of survivor skills: He makes his recipes heart-safe by stretching one egg yolk to make six deviled eggs. His computer has all of the nutritional information about the items in his pantry to make his meal planning easy and healthy. He limits his food indulgences. Prime rib, which he calls a “heart sledgehammer’’ is eaten only once a year to mark a special occasion.

He’s still a regular at the hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation unit, going three times a week and logging more than 1,400 sessions. He jokingly refers it as the "zipper'' club because of the large number of patients with cardiac-surgery scars. “And the guys with the defibrillators, you know, their hearts stop once in a while, that’s the zapper club.’’ . 

He likes it there because the staff has the experience to guide cardiac patients to good health. At the unit, success isn’t measured by speed or weight lifted, but by gradual improvement. “The only problem with a health club is the people there are not really trained to bring along cardiac people.’’

Wesley also has cut down on the stress in his life. Retired four years after his surgery, he advises hard-charging 35 to 45-year-olds to back off from the pressure and get a hobby. Wesley also stopped smoking and gets his blood tested every six months.

"Do what you can while you can and then just keep pushing it forward.''

Wesley: I am living proof.

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