Coronary artery disease was a catalyst for change in lifestyle, attitude
Daniel Seman never thought it would happen to him. He thought he was invincible, that he would live a long life, even though he owned a funeral home and saw firsthand when men like him – men that lived the kind of life he did – died too young. But he kept living as he always had, eating poorly and remaining inactive as he worked to establish and grow his security consulting business.
But when he started feeling sick, and when he kept feeling sick, all that changed. “I found out that I was very mortal,” he said, “that I was very close to cashing out.”
It was Seman’s partner, Sarah, who urged him to get checked out, and he’s so grateful to her for that push. He saw his primary care physician, who told him to get to the Minneapolis Heart Institute® at Abbott Northwestern Hospital immediately. There, he met Dr. Rob Schwartz, underwent several tests and learned that he had coronary artery disease, which is plaque in the heart’s arteries. The condition can block blood supply to the heart, and in Seman’s case, his heart was more than 90 percent blocked.
Seman underwent a stenting procedure, which is a minimally invasive procedure during which a stent and balloon are used together to push back the plaque deposits inside of a coronary artery. Seman had two stents placed, which are tiny, expandable mesh tubes that hold arteries open.
“I was scared to death,” Seman said, “but Dr. Schwartz assured me that everything would be fine.” And it was – after some hard work on Seman’s part. It was during his recovery that he decided to make a change, realizing that a new lifestyle was necessary if he wanted to be around for his four children and granddaughter.
Having read about vegetarianism, Seman decided to give it a try, and he soon stumbled across veganism. He immersed himself in the vegan lifestyle and didn’t look back. He also began to exercise every day.
Currently, he works out with a personal trainer, practices martial arts and attends hot yoga classes. He also walks at least 13 miles every day, tracking his distance with the Map My Walk app on his iPhone. He has lost a significant amount of weight and is truly a changed man.
But perhaps more significant than the changes to Seman’s physical health is the difference in his outlook on health and life. “It’s a whole different lifestyle and attitude change,” he said, explaining that he had no choice but to transform his life as he did. “The alternative was death.”
At the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, we are working closely with community health leaders, business partners and other key stakeholders to research and implement effective health and education strategies aimed at improving the health and lifestyles of community members, with the ultimate goal of heart disease prevention. One example of this is Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project, in which residents of New Ulm, Minn., have been working to reduce their health risks through preventive measures such as quitting smoking, getting more physically active and making healthier eating choices. The success of this project, as well as stories like Seman’s, reinforce that prevention is a huge aspect of heart disease prevention that we simply can’t afford to ignore.