January 26, 2018
Shortly after crossing the finish line of the 2016 Great Aloha Run, Casey Emmons collapsed. He had suffered a heart attack.
“I’m the last person my friends would have thought to have a heart attack. I was very active,” says the 31-year-old.
He was rushed to the nearest medical center and woke up in the Intensive Care Unit.
“They told me I had atrial fibrillation, which is why I passed out after the race. When they restarted my heart, there was a blood clot that had formed that shot right back into my heart, which caused a real heart attack,” Casey says.
Casey had a pre-workout supplement before the race, which experts believe may have caused the attack.
He spent a week in the hospital before he was able to go home.
About a month after his heart attack, Casey went to Straub Medical Center, where he joined the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program.
The program is a unique and innovative approach to prevent, stop and even reverse heart disease and significantly improve other chronic conditions. The program includes a heart-healthy diet, exercise and stress management regiment.
“The program was great. They have you exercise with heart rate monitors, which helped to give me confidence,” Casey says. “I was kind of scared of having a heart attack again. The heart monitors give you confidence to see what you can do.”
The program also utilizes a special diet that Casey continues to follow today.
“At the beginning, it’s extremely hard to think about how you would transfer your diet to this program. But they make it easy. Every day you attend the program – they give you a catered meal and teach you how to recreate all the Ornish-approved dishes you eat,” he says.
Participants do yoga and practice stress reduction techniques and deep-breathing exercises as well.
“I try to make sure I include stress reduction and relaxation as part of my day,” Casey shares. “I quit my demanding, high-stress job of being a bartender and now I am a computer repair technician.”
Casey work outs daily and he’s happy to be surfing, diving and snorkeling again.
He visits his cardiologist at Straub every six months and cautions others that you’re never too young to suffer a heart attack.
“Stay away from high-salt and fatty foods. I also cut out caffeine and follow the clean Ornish diet,” he says. “You aren’t invincible. Now is a good time to start thinking about your health.”