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Hi All,

 

I've hung out on these forums for a little while now. Long enough that I'm pretty sure I have begun to understand some of its finer content - and important things like why Dean gives Michael a hard time. I'd like to share a little about my story.

 

At 24 years old I was being monitored for cardiovascular problems. My family physician had detected a heart murmur on my annual checkup and I was showing some really strange blood pressure readings (regularly ~155/45). An echocardiogram revealed that I had a bicuspid aortic valve that was leaking quite significantly. This lead to the replacement of my aortic valve via open-heart surgery at 24.  

 

Unfortunately post-op I developed acute endocarditis, which become chronic endocarditis.  I lived the next 27 months of my life in and out of hospitals visiting IV clinics for antibiotics 3x daily to find this heart infection.  I had PICC lines installed, and was administered just about every kind of high-potency anti-biotic you can imagine, and for 27 months straight.  I was hospitalized a total of 5 times and was probably close to death at a few points.  Closer than I'd like to believe.

 

Needless to say, antibiotics weren't working.  So I required open heart surgery for a second time.  I was 26 years olds at this point.  Trans-esophegeal echocardiograms confirmed a large vegetation on my aortic valve and aorta.  This is basically a mass of bacteria, platelets, white blood cells, etc. I had my aortic valve replaced again, along with my aorta.  Additionally, arteries were reattached in different locations, so that future heart surgery doesn't have to be invasive - the current gear in my heart is believed to last 10-20 years - hopefully. I've talked to Dr. Essylstyn twice on the phone and he feels next time I need surgery, it will be done through trans-aortic valve implantation. He also said 'no one makes a habit out of sternotomies, they suck.'  He's right. They are awful.

 

The second surgery went well. And here is something that Dean and his ethical vegan spirit will like. I was profoundly impacted by this experience for many reasons. One of which was the fact that a cow had to die for me to live.  Bovine tissue is used to construct the valve replaced in my heart.  When I woke up from the second surgery and had no desire to consume animals ever again. I never had a bite of meat again. I almost immediately went vegan despite having never read a thing about it. 

 

(Technically speaking I've consumed animal products maybe once-twice a year when in a pinch, but that's really not significant to the story)

 

I went to my local bookstore and picked up one of the first health books I saw. Which happened to be the Blue Zones. I often wonder what would have happened if I randomly grabbed an Atkins or paleo book.  I thank whatever higher power is out there that it was the Blue Zones.  That quickly lead to the assimilation of the China Study, Finding Ultra, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, The Spectrum, The CR Way, and so on. 

 

Pre-heart surgery I was just under 220 pounds, somewhat muscular too and consuming about 400g of protein per day - that is not a typo.  After the second procedure I was about 185 pounds.  

 

This morning I was 149 pounds. 5.5 years after starting a WFPB vegan, lightly CR'd diet. (See photo attached from today - BMI is 20.7). You can also tell I don't have the perfect CR body, but it's been through a lot.  I have a little loose skin, some big scars, and some mild man boobs. But whatever. I'm alive, happy, and contributing a lot to this world each day. 

 

In discussion of how I got the bicuspid valve in the first place, my cardiologist has 3 possible explanations:

a) I was born with it

b) I was hospitalized as an infant with a fever of unknown origin, which may have rheumatic fever

c) I was hospitalized as an infant with a fever of unknown origin, which may have endocarditis.  

Though I will never know for sure, and I suppose there is the possibility it was something else. 

 

Here is the amazing thing.  I had developed an enlarged heart since it was working so hard to re-pump blood that was flowing backwards through my valve. My heart returned to normal size, something my cardiologist said does not happen. Maybe the surgery was a great success, maybe it was the CR lifestyle, or some combination of the two. I personally think that if I returned to my old ways, my heart would not have shrunk down. 

 

The other biomarkers of mine are great. Fasting glucose is 79. BP is 110/60.  Total cholesterol is 129. Triglycerides are 29.  And so on. Interestingly, the one I have that doesn't add up to CR levels is IGF-1. Which came back at about 280 when I had it tested about a year ago.  

 

Anyway - I just had a nice breakfast of wild rice, barley, mango, raisins, flax, cocoa, almond butter, and about 5 oz of arugula.  It's awfully cold outside, so it's time to go for a brisk walk in a tank-top and shorts to get some CE with my dog.

 

Thanks for listening folks!

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Edited by Dean Pomerleau
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Drew,

 

You've been quietly contributing here for a while. I'm glad you've finally gotten comfortable enough to share your amazing story.

 

I've hung out on these forums for a little while now. Long enough that I'm pretty sure I have begun to understand some of its finer content - and important things like why Dean gives Michael a hard time.

 

(shhh - don't tell anyone). Because he deserves it of course, and his sidekick Saul too!

 

When I woke up from the second surgery [with a cow valve in my heart - DP] and had no desire to consume animals ever again. I never had a bite of meat again. I almost immediately went vegan despite having never read a thing about it. 

 

Wow - good for you. The cow that died so that you could live is continuing to have a positive impact on the world, by you sharing your and his/her story.

 

(See photo attached from today - BMI is 20.7). You can also tell I don't have the perfect CR body, but it's been through a lot. I have a little loose skin, some big scars, and some mild man boobs. But whatever. I'm alive, happy, and contributing a lot to this world each day. 

 

[Admin Note: I rotated the image you posted, since it was showing up upside down, at least for me. If that messed things up for others, let me now.]

 

I think you have a pretty classical CRed appearance, and the evidence suggests your BMI is right in the healthiest range for someone your age - early 30s if I've calculated correctly based on your timeline. Given your history, and likelihood of future health challenges when your cow-valve wears out, it seems wise not to go any lower. 

 

It truly sounds and appears like mild, vegan CR (+ cold exposure) is working very well for you! I'm so happy to hear it, and to learn more about your background. Your highish IGF-1 is a bit strange. Maybe your body wants to remain on the slightly anabolic side, just in case, as a result of your medical history and heart troubles.

 

Thanks for listening folks!

 

Thanks again for sharing!

 

--Dean

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Dean,

 

Interesting theory on IGF-1 staying high because my body wants to remain in a slightly anabolic state - I had never considered that. It seems like it could be a possibility. 

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In your case high IGF may be good.  While many here fear IGF because it appears to increase cancer risk and other issues of advancing age, in the short term it appears to have many benefits.  Maybe it is a factor in your heart apparently recovering well from so much trauma.

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Todd is right. In fact, after I speculated about Drew's high-ish IGF-1, I looked into the association between IGF-1 and cardiac surgery. Most of what I found was related (obviously) to bypass surgery, not the kind of valve replacement surgery like Drew had. But in general I found one of the problems often seen in patients recovering from heart surgery is low IGF-1 leading to slow heart muscle cell repair. So Drew you may be lucky to have high-ish IGF-1, in that it may help you rebuild and maintain heart muscle tissue after your surgery.

 

--Dean

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I thought I would post an update here since this thread is now 3.5 years old. I continue to practice a similar health regime to what I describe above. One of the funny things about CR and healthy lifestyle, in general, is that once you implant habits, you open up space to pursue other ventures. Like many of the members of this forum, human longevity is a fascination of mine, though my inspiration was largely inspired by being so sick in my mid 20's. Had this not occurred I doubt I would have taken interest in the topic. My longevity regime is basically as follows:

  • A plant-based diet with rare animal product consumption (maybe 5 times per year)
  • A daily exercise regime which my Apple watch used to calculate as the step equivalent of about 17 000 steps per day (circulating through swimming, biking, running, yoga, weightlifting, the elliptical, etc.). 
  • Cold exposure - this has been the biggest evolution since I first started this thread in 2016 - the total quantity of CE is higher. Cold showers have become a regular way of starting my day along with a great deal of time outdoors in the cold while wearing only light clothing. I don't opt for more artificial forms of cold-exposure like cryotherapy or wearing ice vests. 
  • Meditation - practicing daily - based on the tradition of Mindfulness. I closely follow the practices of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hahn, etc. 
  • Stress management - I accepted a promotion at work a little over a year ago which led to a very stressful period of my life. I coped about as well as I could have and as a result, things went as smooth as the possibly could have, though stress is still stress.
  • Working to enhance relationships with my family - given that this is such an important aspect of the Blue Zones, it makes sense to focus on. My social life isn't great, but I tend to be introverted and I'm not sure that I really care about having few friends (not sure how this will impact longevity - I know many people here wonder about this)
  • My bloodwork remains consistently excellent and my checkups with the cardiologist have gone well. The only interesting trend in my bloodwork is that my platelets continue to be slightly below the normal range (they barely fluctuate, so they have been consistently low over the years). 

And since a picture is worth a thousand words, I've attached a photo from today. My weight is identical to what it was in 2016 (BMI 20.7), though I feel I look leaner in the photo today. It's hard to say, maybe I'm just flexing harder - LOL! I continue to read on this site frequently though don't' always post.

crs.jpg

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Congrats, and I'm very happy that you are doing well! The whole point of all of this is to enhance health so that you enhance the QOL, and any additional longevity is a bonus.

I did enjoy your post and particularly the previous one where you mentioned that Dr. McDougall spoke fondly of valve replacement surgery. I'm reading David Sinclair's book that just came out "Lifespan" - and last night I read about the problems with foot wounds. Just amazing stuff, how you can walk around with nails in your feet and not know about it and how it's practically impossible to avoid serious foot wound problems and amputations if you have DMT2. Horrifying - yet, I read it with as you put it "fondness", because it's so fascinating.

Best of luck, and keep on rockin'!

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