Pushing Forward After A Heart Attack [transcript] [audio]

Guests: Dr. Warren J. Wexelman & Bob Harper  

Presenter: Neal Howard

Guest Bio:

Bob Harper

Health and Fitness expert, television star, and three-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, Bob Harper, is one of the most successful lifestyle experts in the world. Having starred as a trainer on all 16 seasons of The Biggest Loser, Bob brought his dynamic personality to the role of host on season 17. However in February 2017, he suffered a severe heart attack that forever changed his life. Harper’s experience as a heart attack survivor gave him a new purpose on Today, where he appears frequently as a health expert. Aside from Today, he can be seen on the set of The Rachael Ray Show, where he regularly co-hosts.

Warren J. Wexelman, MD

Warren J. Wexelman, MD, or as he is also known as, “The Rockdoc”, is a lifelong Brooklynite and has been a practicing cardiologist in Brooklyn for over 30 years. He served as Associate Chief Medical Officer, Director of Clinical Therapeutics, Chair of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee for 23 years. Dr. Wexelman was the Founding Director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation & Exercise Program at Maimonides Medical Center.  Dr. Wexelman is presently on the faculty of the NYU Langone School of Medicine and Medical Center and the President of the American Heart Association in Brooklyn. He has been the Medical Director for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer NYC since 2002.

Segment Overview: In this segment, celebrity fitness trainer Bob Harper and Dr. Warren Wexelman talk about focusing on recovery and seeking support after a massive heart attack and helping to raise awareness.


Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to the program. I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you for joining us here on Health Professional Radio. Health and fitness expert, television star and three-time number one New York Times bestselling author Bob Harper is joining us today to talk about how it is to live after having a massive heart attack. He’s joined with us by Dr. Wexelman as well. Welcome to the program both of you.

Warren Wexelman: Thank you.

Bob Harper: Hi Neal.

N: Thanks to both you for taking the time. Now, Bob you’re here to tell us about your story. You suffered a massive heart attack. What was that like? How did that happen?

B: Neal, on February 12th of 2017, I had a heart attack and I don’t remember anything about that day. All I remember is waking up in a hospital two days later surrounded by friends and family from Los Angeles and Tennessee telling me that I had experienced a heart attack and immediately went into cardiac arrest. It was so mind-boggling because I would have never thought in a million years that I could have ever had a heart attack.

N: Your life has been drastically changed. Talk about some of these changes.

B: Not only has my exercise program had to change which I’m now much more, I’m not as high intensity as I used to be. My diet is a little bit more balanced than it was before. I’ll tell you one of the biggest changes though. My biggest change is the relationship that I have created with my doctor and it is something that is new for me. I have always been a person that has been in control and I’m the one that tells you what to do, Neal. Now all of a sudden having my doctor’s tell me what to do and making sure that I follow the medication program, that they want me on, has been major change in my life.

N: You’re working to raise awareness. Are you working to raise awareness on how to prevent heart attacks? How to live after suffering a heart attack or maybe a combination of the two?

B: Well, I think that you hit the nail on the head. It’s a combination of the two. I am working very closely with AstraZeneca. We put together a website called the “Survivors Have Heart”, where I have these six survivor kits. I think that anyone could follow these guidelines and live a healthier life. But you said something really important about having another heart attack. When I found that out from my doctors that I’m at risk of having another heart attack, that was a huge wake-up call for me.

W: In fact that’s the reason that you were given BRILINTA when you left the hospital, actually on medication, because in a major study, BRILINTA at 90 milligrams twice a day with an aspirin a day was found to decrease the rate of a second heart attack as well as decrease the depth from that heart attack. Even though BRILINTA is not made for everybody because it can cause bleeding, the fact is that Bob is so working so well with his doctors to make sure that they’re in contact and to follow the rules and the treatment plan, that’s going to help him stay well for a long time.

B: Neal, the message there right now is to listen to your doctor.

W: Great. Completely.

N: Dr. Wexelman, what exactly happens when a person has a heart attack?

W: When a heart attack occurs in one of the small arteries of the heart, the coronary arteries get blocked up either with plaque, with cholesterol or with a blood clot. At that point no blood can get through to the heart muscle, the heart muscle starts starving and that’s the chest pain that people feel and then the heart muscle dies.

N: Who is the best candidate for this type of treatment? You say it’s not for everyone.

W: Anybody who suffered an acute coronary syndrome or as we call it a heart attack or severe chest pain, that leads them into a hospital, they’re candidate to this type of medication therapy.

N: Bob, what’s the most important takeaway that you’d like our audience to deal with today?

B: I mean I think the biggest takeaway is to create a relationship with your doctor and know what your health is from the inside-out. It can’t just be about the physicality. It’s got to be much more internal. I think the relationship that I have with my doctors now and just listening to them has been something that has been paramount in my life.

W: I think not denying your symptoms and it making sure that when you don’t feel well, you say something, you say something to your doctor and that’s what Bob does now and that’s exactly going to be the key to the success in the future.

N: Dr. Wexelman, what is the physician’s role in establishing that give-and-take relationship between doctor and patient?

W: It’s a 50-50 partnership and it has to be. You have to have a doctor that you can trust, that you can talk to, that will talk to you and you in turn have to then listen to the doctor. Ask your three important questions – What’s wrong with me? What do I need to do about this and what is it going to mean to me long term? That’s the way you develop a 50-50 relationship.

B: I know for me, the relationship that I have with my doctor is the way that it works so much is that, it’s that bedside manner. It’s like they care so much, like I need someone to be able to really care about me as much as possible. That’s why the 50-50 is important. I’m going to give you 50 I need 50 from you.

W: You’ll get it.

B: Right.

N: Where can our listeners go online and learn more?

B: That’s survivorshaveheart.com, that’s where you’ll find my 6 tips.

N: Bob Harper, thank you so much for joining us. Dr. Wexelman, as well, it’s been a pleasure.

W: My pleasure.

B: Thank you.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. Transcripts and audio of the program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm. Be sure and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, listen in and download at SoundCloud and visit our affiliates page at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com.au.

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