Too Young for a Heart Attack
Stu was a fit 37-year-old. Then Fathers’ Day ‘87 ended with a heart attack and an ER Doc telling him he may not survive; life as he knew it was over. The inspirational story of a man who rebuilds from the ground up: his work, eating, physical activities, even relationships. Readers will find a great story, Stu’s methods for improving and maintaining heart health, a top-10-list, recipes, and more. More
Stu Segal was a fit, healthy 37-year-old—or that's what he thought until Fathers’ Day 1987 ended with a heart attack. When the ER doctor told him he might or might not survive, he realized that, one way or another, life as he knew it was over.
Stu traces the journey of a man facing the new reality that though much of what he loved was gone, yes, he might still be able to live a long and happy life—if he methodically changed his approach to the things he'd always taken for granted. Over the course of weeks, months and years, Stu says goodbye to the habits he's used to and rebuilds them all from the ground up—his work, his eating, his physical activities, even his hobbies and relationships. And along the way, he learns that happiness isn't exactly what he thought it was.
Readers seeking heart-health advice will find Too Young for a Heart Attack includes a top-10-healthy-practices list, a food appendix featuring heart-friendly recipes, and medical expertise from cardiologist Ian J. Molk, M.D.
FROM THE AUTHOR:
I had a heart attack, out of the blue, at age 37. It was serious—serious enough to change the rest of my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. It’s been 26 years since the heart attack. I have lived, loved, laughed—in spite of the heart attack. Or is it because of the heart attack?
Hard to say, but over time it awakened my desire to live and revealed my love of life. It gave me the motivation to stop my unhealthy behaviors, the eating, the smoking, the stressing . . . the behaviors that surely precipitated the crisis. Prior to the heart attack I never truly recognized the risks of these behaviors. I was thin and had always been thin. I didn’t need to exercise or watch what I ate to stay that way. And you know, thin is healthy—just ask anyone.
My diet included absolutely no vegetables—if it was green, it wasn’t going in my mouth. I loved anything sugary—Frosted Flakes, Pop Tarts, Boston cream pie, Tastykakes. And let’s not forget Italian salami, capicola, steaks . . . and hot pastrami sandwiches, calzones, strombolis. Reading in bed at night, I always had candy bars and milk. Never any asparagus or broccoli here!
And I smoked—a lot, two packs a day, and had been for over 20 years. I knew it was harmful, but figured it wouldn’t hurt me, not until I was older . . . and I planned to stop . . . someday . . . before it was too late.
Whether it was what I ate, or smoked, or stressed over, there was no moderation—stuffing the freezer with a years supply of cookies seemed perfectly normal to me. When I liked something, I really liked it; and when I didn’t, I avoided it like the plague. Unfortunately, allowing my indulgences (bad diet, smoking, stress) and avoiding my dislikes (exercise, healthy eating) was the perfect formula for a heart attack. Which left me with a damaged heart, forevermore.
Nearly three decades later I can tell you I have lived an amazing life, though in the aftermath of the heart attack I believed it was destined to be an unfulfilling life, a life of restrictions, the life of a cardiac cripple. It has not been without adversity, conflict, depression and setbacks . . . but in the end I beat the odds. I have lived a life many would envy—seeing my children flourish, my career advance, my personal relationships blossom.
This is the story of my journey from the depths of doubt, doubt that I could live, or live fully, to the summit of a life well-lived. From a reckless personal lifestyle which damaged my health, nearly stopped my heart, to an effective, satisfying way of life which halted the advance of heart disease and improved my overall health and well-being. More than just my story, I want to share with you some of the thought processes, techniques and tactics that helped change my life, that put me on the path to better health . . . and that I hope will put you on that same path.