On August 2, 2014, Rudy Lindbloom woke up at 2 AM with a burning sensation in his chest. Initially, he thought it was heartburn, but when the pain intensified, he suspected it was something more serious. The then 66-year-old from Boise, Idaho began sweating heavily and asked his wife, Linda, to take him to the emergency room. “As we walked out of the bedroom I saw myself in the mirror–my skin had turned absolutely gray,” he recalls.
At the hospital, he said two words that got immediate attention: “chest pain.” Within minutes, he recalls, “There were 7 people working on me. I was given nitroglycerin and other meds, but the pain kept getting worse.” Rudy was diagnosed with a heart attack and rushed to the cath lab, where the blocked artery was reopened with a stent. “Because I was treated so quickly, I avoided permanent heart damage.”
Ironically, the heart attack occurred when Rudy was already working to improve his health. The 6’1” businessman had improved his diet and shed 18 pounds, bringing his weight down to 172 pounds. He’d never smoked and had normal blood pressure. “The cardiologist at the hospital said all of my labs were excellent. He prescribed a cocktail of pills and said to come back in a year,” adds Rudy, who was told that his genes were probably the culprit.
That made sense, since his dad had four heart attacks–starting at age 50–and died from cardiac arrest at age 70. Many of his other paternal relatives also died from heart disease. “Linda and I wanted to know what to do about my genetic risks and found Dr. Amy Doneen’s book, Beat the Heart Attack Gene,” he says. “When I read it, the BaleDoneen Method sounded like what I needed. I was impressed that there were 50 pages of footnotes about all the scientific studies behind this approach.”
When Rudy came to the Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center in Spokane for a comprehensive evaluation, the 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test discussed on page 1 of this newsletter revealed that he was insulin resistant. Like many people with IR, he had high levels of inflammation. This meant the medications he was taking were not doing enough to prevent a repeat heart attack. He was switched to a different statin that’s more effective for people with IR, which successfully quelled the fire in his arteries.
Genetic testing confirmed that genes did indeed play a role in his heart attack since he has two genes that predict cardiovascular danger. This discovery had important implications for his treatment, since people with his genetic profile do best if they eat a very low-fat, gluten-free diet, limit or avoid alcohol, and take certain dietary supplements. And while the previously sedentary businessman was on the right track by losing weight, he needed to get a lot more exercise to reduce the risk that his IR would progress to full-blown diabetes.
Rudy and Linda, who enjoy hiking, made it their goal to get in great shape, then climb a mountain. They trained four times a week in a local indoor mall, briskly walking its two-mile perimeter and running up and down the stairs (averaging 40 flights per workout). Once a week they hiked up and down a small mountain near their home. In 2015, they attempted to summit Mt. Borah, at over 12,600 feet the highest mountain in Idaho, but had to turn back before reaching the summit due to fatigue.
This year, buoyed by the good news that the BaleDoneen Method had stabilized the plaque in Rudy’s arteries (meaning that he was no longer at risk for a repeat heart attack), the couple intensified their training, and set a new goal of climbing South Sister, which at 10,358 feet is the third highest mountain in Oregon. Their 41-year-old son, Scott, a superb athlete who lives in Bend, Oregon, joined them in this attempt.
“After six hours of hard climbing, with the last mile being a 30-to-40 degree slope with loose rock, we finally summited,” says Rudy, now 68. “The view from the top was really magnificent and I felt somewhere north of ecstatic at how far I’d come since my heart attack.”