In my case, I denied my problem and searched for over 2 years until I reached a point of crisis. I was lucky to receive proper intervention which saved my life. You also may be reading this now because you have already joined our "Cardiac Club". You will be an active member of this club until the day you die. If you are smart, work hard on the problem and create a sustainable program I think you have cause to be optimistic about living an enjoyable normal life. That's my mission in any case.
If the first symptom of your disease was an actual heart attack, you are truly one of the lucky ones given another chance; 50% of the time attacks like that result in death. Death is a real tough complication to overcome! The information I share is a "work in progress" and about what I have already accomplished with 10 years of intensive "learning and experimentation". The good news is a smart and motivated individual can accomplish the same thing in 18-24 months.
In the beginning of this journey I had to overcome a sense of awkwardness as I have a Master's in Public Health (MPH), was a US Navy Hospital Corpsman, was previously licensed as a Practical Nurse and have operated hospitals over thirty years. I think I was a little embarrassed that I hadn't done a better job with my own health.
"It might be helpful to know that I did not want to make any lifestyle changes and avoided making change until it became a necessity. The good news in this for you is that if I can embrace this different approach then there is most certainly hope and reason for you to think you can do it too, perhaps even better!"
I realized I was just doing the best I could with the typical understanding of what constitutes a good "Healthy lifestyle". I learned I was normal about these things, just like you. I made a decision to make whatever changes were required to live free of discomfort (angina, chest pain) and to stop the continuing deterioration of my health status and constant dread of a sudden death. "Pain is a very strong attention getter and signal that something is wrong."
But, even with the two year span of pain I didn't get the message which I have found is just being human. The trap I fell into was my significant first angioplasty resolved the pain therefore my denial of the problem overrode good judgment. I embarked on the next phase of denial and rode the yo-yo of multiple heart catheterizations & angioplasties. In my reading I found one study that indicated it took men 4 heart catheterizations to learn that the path they had chosen wasn't working so well. Boy, it took me five!
I may have even gone for more but, you guessed it, my last heart catherization kicked up a very significant recurring angina problem which I had trouble controlling. I soon realized that I had overlooked an important goal available to all of us today, DISEASE REVERSAL.
So, I didn't choose this path exactly as a volunteer; I came through the door kicking and screaming. And, like most life lessons, in retrospect I just can't believe I missed the boat by so much. This was a "life or death proposition" and here I was marginalizing and rationalizing my likes and dislikes.
In one self exercise I started imagining my tombstone :
Here lies Ron Yates-RIP
-He was killed by oatmeal raisin cookies!
-He was killed by extra butter movie popcorn!
-He was killed by a tub of extra virgin olive oil!
-He was killed by Ruth Chris medium rare filet mignon wrapped in bacon!
-He was killed by one more day at the office!
-He was killed by sitting on the sofa!
So, I decided I was smarter than any of those prospective tombstones! I think I was able to learn and integrate information that might make a difference before it's too late and my Public Health background inspires me to share what I have learned. This is working for me, the key is to find something that works for you and that you can sustain.
Yeah, I still have some of those desperate killers mentioned above. One of the neat things about an effective program is occasionally you can indulge and the body seems to be able to process the indulgence much better. The key is to return to your program the next day. In this case, it really is "the first day of the rest of your life." Feel free to ask me any follow up questions.