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Stephen’s Story

Stephen’s Story: Coronary Artery Disease

In February 2019, Stephen was in a meeting at work when out of nowhere he felt extremely nauseated. Stephen excused himself to the restroom but as soon as he did, he began to sweat profusely. He started to experience tightness across his chest from shoulder to shoulder, and when the pain did not subside in a few minutes, he summoned a coworker who called an ambulance.

The ambulance arrived approximately 10 minutes later, and the paramedics transported him to El Camino Health’s Mountain View Hospital where he was taken directly to the emergency room (ER). Norma Melchor Heart & Vascular Institute cardiologist Chad Rammohan, MD, performed a third EKG and immediately recognized Stephen’s symptoms were from occlusion of one of his arteries.

“Within an hour and a half, the stent was in place within my artery,” Stephen explains. “I stayed in the Intensive Care Unit overnight, and I had a wonderful nurse checking on me throughout the night. I was discharged the following day.”

Three and a half weeks later, Stephen enrolled at the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at El Camino Health’s Mountain View Hospital for a 12-week session designed to help reduce heart disease risk factors, limit the progression of disease, improve physical functioning and learn to cope with stress more effectively.

Throughout the program, staff measured his baseline health, monitored his exercise via telemetry, and taught other lifestyle tips, like stress management. Stephen also worked with the program’s dietitian to develop a plant-based approach to nutrition. He set the goal of eating four plant-based meals per week and trying two new recipes. Impressively, he ended up eating 75% of his meals plant-based and continues to incorporate plants as the bulk of his diet.

“When you’re in the ER, it’s not as ‘touchy-feely,’ but I definitely got that feeling when I was in the Cardiac Rehab Center,” Stephen recalls. “I was one of the youngest patients, but I watched the staff interact with patients young and old, and they knew everyone’s names, they were very caring.”

After leaving the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, El Camino Health offers a transition program with the YMCA in Palo Alto, so Stephen was able to continue tracking his exercise. Now, he does cardio and weight training at the YMCA and also rides a road bike every day.

“Since changing my lifestyle, I feel great,” Stephen says. “I’m more active, I changed my sleeping patterns, and I have lost more than 60 pounds.”

The knowledge and habits Stephen gained from the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program have helped him feel better, improve his overall health and lower his heart disease risk.