Men's Health Spotlight: A Local Man Overcomes Heart Disease in Movember
SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — November is “Movember” at WAVY. Each week we will bring you a story focused on men’s health.
Heart disease is the primary cause of mortality for males in America, but it doesn't have to be. Physicians declare that 90% of heart disease can be prevented, or in the case of Ron Caswell, reversed.
Caswell was commuting to work on Interstate 264 in 2018 when he experienced a severe sensation of discomfort in the chest that compelled him to pull over. The discomfort quickly subsided, so he continued driving.
"So, I simply assumed it was another ache or pain resulting from my inadequate golf swing, and I disregarded it," he stated.
Several weeks later, while working at a construction site, he expressed his concerns about chest pressure to a colleague, who replied, "Are you dumb? Call your doctor." So I contacted him, and he asked the same question, 'Ron, are you foolish?'"
At Sentara Heart Hospital, physicians discovered that Caswell had not only suffered a heart attack two weeks prior, but the widowmaker was lurking.
"So, I inquired, 'Alright, what choices do I have?' He replied, 'You have two. You can undergo triple bypass surgery in the morning or you can perish,'" Caswell informed WAVY.
Following a successful surgery, Caswell returned to work but experienced a complete lack of energy.
Then one day, a healthcare professional introduced him to a book entitled "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
It is predominantly comprised of recipes for healthier eating. It also taught Caswell to scrutinize food labels and penetrate through the marketing tactics employed by the food industry.
"I used to be an all-meat, all-the-time person. That is how I led my life, and now, I'm a kale enthusiast and I absolutely adore it," Caswell exclaimed.
The diet is essentially vegan, with the additional restrictions of eliminating oils, avocado, or coconut. Caswell concedes that it is a challenging plan to follow, which is why most individuals refrain from doing so.
Nonetheless, Dr. Ethlyn Gibson from Eastern Virginia Medical School informed 10 On Your Side that it doesn't have to be a complete transformation.
"Make small adjustments," she advised. "Don't attempt to change everything all at once. It is the little baby steps that make a difference."
The American Heart Association recommends adhering to "Life's Essential 8."
"Life's Essential 8 means there are simple measures you can take to safeguard your heart," Gibson stated.
The top three items on the list include engaging in regular physical activity, abstaining from smoking, and adopting a healthier diet.
"Many of us engage in what we refer to as mindless eating, where we grab the first thing we see," Gibson explained, "so we urge you to consider consuming more fruits and vegetables. That's what he started contemplating."
Now, when the workday concludes, instead of longing for a nap, Caswell is wide awake and living his best life.
"Now I'm out and about, full of energy, and seizing the moment," Caswell remarked.
“I purchased a recreational vehicle and we are constantly engaged in various activities, and I no longer reside in a manner indicative of impending doom.”
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