Cardiac Patient of the Year: “Don’t be in denial like I was”

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -   The Heart Center honored one man as the Cardiac Rehab Patient of the Year. But David Hand wasn't one you'd expect to have heart problems. "I was very surprised,” said Hand.

Hand says he was your average guy-- ate healthy, worked out occasionally. All seemed to be well, until one Friday night in July of 2014. "I was woken up by the discomfort in my chest, back and arm, and numbness and tingling in my right hand," said Hand.

He waited eight days before he went in for testing. "I lived the life of a denier," said Hand.

He later found out he had a 90% blockage in his heart, in an artery that was too small to have a stint. "It was real scary because our lifestyle is not sedentary, we're active people. And all I could see was a life change of becoming sedentary," said Hand.

That's when The Heart Center suggested he make a radical change.

"They really focus on more than just exercise. It's really kind of a life style change that we try to help patients achieve," said Dr. Michael Butler, Director of Cardiac Rehab at The Heart Center.

"I removed all meat, all oils, all dairy, egg, just a completely plant-based diet," said Hand.

Advice, Dr. Butler encourages. "This same thing goes for people without coronary disease, an active lifestyle, eating the right things, staying away from cigarettes. All of those things are almost better than the things we can do medically to prevent coronary heart disease," said Dr. Butler.

By getting rid of those fats in his diet, and the help of medication, Hand’s heart was able to heal.

They might have been drastic changes, but he says it's worth it. "I would encourage people who don't have the problem to do it. It's an incredible boost to energy, and general overall lifestyle," said Hand.

Hand has had zero issues since his life style change. He said after seven months, he added chicken and fish back into his diet.

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