Joe Massingale's Story

My Taste Buds and Heart Agree…Healthy is Better

Something is Wrong

After dinner on Nov. 18, 2010, Joe Massingale complained of indigestion. He tried taking a shower, but began experiencing other signs and symptoms of a heart attack. He knew he had to get to the emergency department.

"I went to Gulf Coast Medical Center," Joe says. "From the moment I got there, I was treated with kindness. Everyone was very comforting and they told me I would be Ok."

Tests revealed that three of Joe's arteries were blocked—two had 80 percent and the other had 85 percent blockage—and required stents to open them again.

Focusing on My Heart Health

After he was discharged from the hospital, his cardiologist, Murali Muppala, M.D., recommended cardiac rehabilitation.

Though he admits he was not a "workout person" he knew it was something he needed to do to get healthier and stronger. So, he began attending sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with the cardiac rehabilitation team.

"These people are wonderful," Joe says. "They are kind, supportive and professional. They pushed me to get stronger and encouraged me the entire time. One of my favorites is exercise physiologist Rulla Sika—she always told me that my heart was strong and she kept a keen eye on me."

In addition to motivating Joe, Rulla and the cardiac rehab team also helped him understand what to eat, determine portion sizes, set goals, address stress management and the importance of maintaining an exercise regimen.

A New, Healthier Lifestyle

"When I started cardiac rehab, I could walk five or six minutes at a low speed and no incline," Joe says. "Now, I walk 30 minutes at a six percent incline. I feel great after a good sweat now. I've also learned to mix it up, so I work out in the gym, walk outside or on the treadmill and I swim."

A former restaurant owner, lifelong chef and current Edison State College cook, Joe worried that his new diet would get in the way of his love of food. "I've enjoyed finding new ways to season food, and I bake or broil my chicken, turkey or fish. I love salads, vegetables and fruit, so I really don't feel like I'm missing out on anything."

Cardiac rehab helped Joe shed 35 pounds.

"I couldn't have recovered so well and done what I did without Rulla and the cardiac rehab team," Joe says. "I feel 100 percent better. I've even set a goal to lose another 15 pounds."