Had angioplasty, need diet and other advice

I had some chest pains last week, was taken to a hospital and given a stress test (on a treadmill). They said I might have some blocked arteries, and sent me to another hospital for an angioplasty.
The angioplasty went in through my wrist, and they cleared 2 blockages, one of which was over 90% blocked that they put a stent in. There was a smaller artery which was less than 50% blocked that they decided not to do anything with.
There are 2 more blocked arteries which they couldn’t get to because they were too twisty. I am going back in 2 weeks and they are going to go in through my leg to try to clear them out.

My question is what can I do to prevent this from happening again and take care of myself? I was smoking about a pack a day, and smoking a fair amount of weed. I bought an electronic cigarette, which does seem to take the worst of the cravings off. I am going to ask my doc for a patch, the nicotine chewing gum, or whatever else will help me off the cigs. Can I still toke a bit or is that a big no-no like the cigs?

I have a fairly physical job that involves a lot of walking and moving around and light to moderate lifting.

I really need some advice on diet and what to eat/avoid. About 6 months ago my wife and I started trying to eat healthier. Less going out to eat and more home made food, healthier snacks, etc. We’ve both lost around 30-40 pounds in the last 6 months or so.
We have been stocking up on fruit and nuts and eating that for snacks. Apples, oranges, grapes, cherries, and bananas mostly. Mixed nuts and raw almonds, a handful or two every day. We have always tried to avoid processed food (tv dinners and canned food), fried food, and fast food but now we’re going to try to cut that stuff out completely. We make a lot of dinners ourselves, fresh meat, fresh veggies, etc. Chicken is good, we make a lot of different chicken dinners that are pretty tasty.
But I do like my beef. Is beef bad, or can I have it in moderation? We like meat loaf, burgers, various cuts of steak and chops, roasts, etc.
I like cheese, but that’s bad, right? I put cheese on a lot of things but I could learn to live without it.
I’m not a big soup or salad eater. If I eat salad I have to put dressing on it, and the low fat dressings usually are not worth it.
I’ve been introduced to sushi last year and have been on quite a roll (heh) with it lately. I like the little rolls of rice with salmon or yellowtail inside, quite delicious and there’s a place nearby that makes them really good. I don’t put anything on them, no soy sauce, wasabi, or anything else. Are these good or bad for you?
We also like Mexican food, Italian, and Chinese quite a bit. It seems to me that most Chinese food is bad because of the sodium? But most Mexican food seems like it would be ok without the cheese. I don’t know if Italian food is good or bad with all the tomato sauce and pasta.

So does anyone have comments or helpful advice? I would like to stick around for a while…

Do you have health insurance? Your doctor may be able to refer you to a Registered Dietician who can provide more customized advice and recipes. But in the meantime, here’s the general advice I give to my folks:

The more your food looks like something you could pick out of nature, the better. The less food looks like something your great-grandfather would recognize, the worse it is for you, generally speaking. That’s just another way of thinking to move you away from highly processed foods (high fat, high sugar, high simple starches, low fiber, low vitamins) and back to “real” food.

1/2 your plate should be non-starchy vegetables (greens, carrots, green beans, celery, broccoli, pea pods, etc.) Pick different colors of vegetables to expand your vitamin intake and keep things interesting.

1/4 of your plate should be starchy vegetables *or *whole grains (potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, brown rice, bulgar wheat, quinoa, barley, etc.)

1/4 of your plate should be protein (beans, meat, cheese, etc.). Since your body loves to store fats in your blood vessels, most of these should be lower in fat. But your body does need some fat, so don’t go too crazy here. Portion control will give you fat control.

(MyPlate, the USDA’s current teaching tool, is similar, but a little different, giving fruit some room on the dinner plate. I find that patients find this overwhelming, and generally eat their fruit between meals anyway. They like 1/2, 1/4, 1/4 more than 30% grains, 30% vegetables, 20% fruit, 20% protein)

The dairy industry would very much like you to have a glass of lowfat milk or a serving of yogurt or cheese on the side. I’m not sold personally, especially for those with high lipids/cholesterol - this is something to discuss with your doctor or dietician. Water should be your primary beverage, with perhaps a glass of red wine (a 3 to 4 ounce glass, not a huge one!) once a day.

American style Chinese food is insane with the sodium, yes. I haven’t found a good way to work around that one. Just make it an occasional treat and choose stir fried dishes with lots of veggies instead of things like General Tso’s chicken.

Ditto American style Italian food like spaghetti and meatballs. But real Italian food has lots of vegetables and can be just as delicious. Branch out. Try the radicchio and beet salad instead of the chicken Caesar. Have the stuffed eggplant instead of the parmigiana. Here are some recipes you might like to try: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/healthy_italian_vegetarian_recipes

E-cigarette is good. Work on reducing your nicotine level as fast and as soon as you can. If your local retailer doesn’t have nicotine free e-juice, you can buy it online. While I’m not too terribly concerned with moderate nicotine intake in healthy people, nicotine does increase blood pressure and promote hardening of the arteries, and that’s not good for you in your state. Same thing with patches and lozenges and gum. Nicotine is not your friend.

As for the reefer…that’s a hard one. At the moment, most doctors will tell you to stop it because Drugs Are Bad, Mm’kay? But there’s some very early, very preliminary research that some cannabinoids may lower blood pressure, promote vasodilation and prevent hardening of the arteries, which would be good things. Again, early research. No one knows for sure. It would not shock me, however, if in 20 years we’re using cannabis to fight heart disease. Neither would it shock me if we don’t. So I’m going to duck the question with a “talk to your doctor” dodge. :wink: If you choose to quit and you’re currently a heavy user, it may be best to stop gradually, asabrupt quitting has been shown to increase blood pressure pretty dramatically.

Thank you for the great advice! We had a weight loss contest at work 3 years ago and I dropped a lot of weight and was down to 180 for about a year and a half. Then I put some of it back on late last year and early this year, which is what prompted our “return to healthy eating” that we started in the late spring. When I started the weight loss, I was thinking along the same lines as you, trying to get as much “natural” food as possible in my system. I was concerned about getting enough nutrition, so I decided to eat food that would benefit me rather than hurt me. It’s pretty easy to see from the nutrition labels how bad most frozen and processed food is (some tv dinners have 1500mg of sodium!) We got away from that a little bit but are now back on track and more determined than ever!
Got some nice recipes and ideas from your link.
The electronic cigs helped already with reducing the cravings. It doesn’t make them go away entirely, but it really helps. That’s the biggest thing for me right now, I think. To get off these damn cigs and be entirely tobacco/nicotine free.

I’ve also been doing really well with the caffiene since I got out of the hospital. I don’t like coffee, but there is a powdered “iced coffee” mix that I used to make with milk and drink a 32oz glass of every day. I would also get the 5 hour energy drinks and usually a mountain dew or two at work. When I was in the hospital I had a headache the entire time (4 days) from the caffiene withdrawals. But I haven’t had anything except water and iced tea since I got home. Funny thing is I don’t feel less energetic or anything, so now I’m questioning why I needed all that caffiene in the first place.

I have an appointment with my regular doctor today, so I’m going to mention everything I posted here and see what he says. The bit about seeing a dietician is great, I do have health insurance so I can probably get a referral from my doc.


Stop smoking everything, period.

Weight Watchers. It works.

An organized exercise routine. I do martial arts, others run, others do planned exercises at a gym. The important thing is to set up an exercise routine of some sort, whatever floats your boat, and then stick to it.

Yes, exactly! It’s not that I’m a technophobe. I’m a huge fan of food science and think some of the things they can do with food production now are really amazing…but some of the things they do are just dreadful, too! When you’re working hard to change your health, it’s a whole lot easier to just think about “natural” because it’s simple and requires no effort (aside from willpower!). Can you read all the labels and find some nutritious processed foods? Absolutely. But it’s harder, and people don’t change as much when it’s hard. I make my own “TV dinners” with my own real food leftovers that don’t have a salt lick in them. I’m not opposed to frozen meals for convenience, I’m opposed to what tends to be in them!

Glad to hear you’ve made good changes before. So you know what to do, it’s just a matter of doing it again…and maybe this time, keep doing it. There’s really only one endpoint for healthy eating and lifestyle, and I hope it’s many many years before that pine box marks the endpoint for you. :slight_smile:

I had a heart attack at 46 YO from a 90% blocked artery. The kicker was that I was exercising at the time. Actually I was doing a 100% max effort on a bicycle. They can’t get to it to do angioplasty or a stent so I just live with it.

Moderate aerobic exercise is important. It helps build collateral circulation which can help prevent damage to the heart if an artery clogs up. Your job includes lots of walking, but more would be better. Also consider jogging or riding a bicycle.

I wear a heart rate monitor when exercising and it’s set to start beeping at 160 BPM. Much more than that, I get chest pains. Ask your doctor what they think you max heart rate should be during exercise.

I bet they put you on a beta blocker. It’s a medicine and the name ends in -lol. BBs suck when exercising as they artificially hold down your heart rate. After my heart attack they had me on such a high dosage of BBs that I couldn’t get my heart rate much above 100. I’m on a fourth of that dosage now. Talk with your doctors about this is if becomes an issue.

Is Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn. He advocates a totally plant-based, no fat diet. No cheese, no meat, no chicken, no nuts, no oils . . . yeah :frowning:

Kind of a depressing thought upon first read, but I’ve decided to incorporate as much plant-based eating as possible into my life.

BTW, I’m 51, no family history or warning signs, and had a heart attack and two stents 4 months ago.

What did your cardiologist say when you asked them about diet and staying healthy?

I’m interested in that, too, if you don’t mind sharing. In 20 years as a heart patient, my husband’s never heard anything more specific than, “eat right stop smoking” from any MD. Two and a half years as an RN working with a whole lot of heart patients, that seems to not be unusual. I sincerely hope there are some cardiologists who are saying more, but I haven’t found them yet.

They focused much more on my smoking and were bitching at me about it and telling me to quit, etc. They did say to “lose weight” but not much else. I assumed someone else would talk to me about it before I was discharged but they didn’t. Which is one thing that prompted me to start this thread - I didn’t get a lot of information at the hospital about what I should and should not eat.

The team that did the procedure were awesome and apparently have a (deserved) reputation for being very good. Once I went up to my room though, they gave me very very little information. The people that came in periodically to check on me, draw blood, etc, kept telling me they didn’t know anything and that they would ask. Then they’d disappear. I complained that they weren’t giving me post-care information, and someone from the hospital called me a few days later and apologized, but still not much info.
My regular doctor is a GP and the advice he gave me was pretty general and mostly common sense type things that I’m already doing or attempting to do.

That’s the kind of info I wish I’d have been given at the hospital. When I asked them to explain what all these new meds were and what they did, they made a list and gave me a 1 or two sentence explanation for each.