UW Health Raises $67,000 at Heart Walk
"I like giving to the American Heart Association because the money stays right here to support research," says Dan. "I wanted to repay what my doctors have done for me."
Dan White (center) with his care team, Nancy Sweitzer, MD, and
Rachel Otremba (right)
Dan asked 120 people to sponsor him for the Heart Walk, and 118 of those he asked made personal donations. "No matter who I talk to, there's always somebody who knows somebody with heart disease."
Dan's diagnosis with heart disease in July of 2006 came as a big surprise to him and to everyone around him. He had trouble breathing and couldn't sleep one Friday night. Thankfully he told his mother the next morning, who told his wife, who took him to the hospital where he stayed for the weekend for tests to see if he had a heart attack.
"It really is the silent killer," says Dan. "I was active, I had no risk factors and no symptoms."
Dan's job involves a great deal of heavy lifting, working around machinery and welding, and he was hesitant to undergo the recommended surgery to implant a pacemaker and defibrillator for fear of how it might affect his ability to work. He initially chose to treat his heart disease with medication and lifestyle changes, and though his heart health did improve, a year-later Dan's doctors continuously recommended surgery.
After a visit to Medtronics, the recommended pacemaker manufacturer based in Minneapolis, Dan had the confidence he needed to proceed with the surgery. Now his heart beat is regulated and monitored, and Dan says he "feels great."
One of the most important things Dan did for his heart health was make major lifestyle changes including a low-sodium, low-fat diet and regular exercise. And these changes have been a team effort – his wife Julie is there exercising with him three to four times per week at the local health club or taking long walks around their rural home in good weather.
Together they have also changed their eating habits. As Dan says, "Sodium is the enemy!"
Though there was a learning curve at the beginning, Dan says that there is nothing they miss about their old lifestyle. The couple still enjoys eating out with family and friends regularly, but they make healthier choices and allow themselves an indulgence like steak on occasion.
Dan has a friend who recently and very unexpectedly died of a heart attack at age 53. At this point, Dan says, he'll give up the bratwurst in exchange for his life.
Date Published: 05/04/2009