Jim’s SANE Story: I Got My Heart and Life Back

by Jim Sola

I am stronger than ever & shed 6” from my waist. My LDL dropped from 220 to 165 and my blood pressure dropped from 150/90 to 110/70. 100% cure for sleep apnea. I feel fully alive for the first time in decades.


 
Most of us living SANE understand eating more non starchy vegetables and avoiding grains and sugar will have a profound impact on our health, reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. My risk is significant because I inherited some really bad genes and struggled with heart disease for the last 28 years. But it was Jonathan Bailor and his SANE program that gave me the insight I desperately needed to resolve my remaining issues.

I will cover my history with doctors, both good and bad, and my struggle with prescription heart medications, the drugs that were effective and the drugs that almost killed me. I will cover how I challenged the system and avoided the advice of my doctors and medical associations.

Bad Genes, 28 Years of Heart Troubles, New Hope

It all started in 1959 as I stood at my father’s hospital bedside and watched while he suffered through his second and fatal heart attack. It was also my sister’s birthday. She was only 11 and my twin brother and I were 16. I remember the emotions of that day and all the days that followed. They never fade away. Never!

Remembering that day and all the hurt and anger that followed his death helped me become a survivor and not a victim. If I had a real challenge, I would ask myself how dad would have handled it. He always seemed to do things the right way and somehow the thoughts of him really helped me take the correct course of action. I know there was something subconscious going on but I prefer to give dad the credit. So life went on and I finished high school, went to college, landed my career job and started a family.

The only problem was, the right things were the wrong things and no one knew any better.

I never forgot that night. He was only 39 and I feared the same fate. I was constantly aware of heart disease which led me to a keen focus on healthy foods and aerobic exercise. The only problem was, the right things were the wrong things and no one knew any better. I smoked when I was young because it reduced stress. I also ate margarine and avoided eggs. We were told vegetable and seed oils reduced heart disease risk. Today, we know that inflammation caused by vegetable oil is one of the prime causes of atherosclerosis. With our new knowledge, the American Heart Association continues to endorse products with trans fat, sugar and refined flours. The endorsements are also reflected in their heart healthy diet recommendations. We tend to embrace huge medical associations as well as our own doctors. But that embracement can lead to early death.

Turned 40 and Things Got Real

The years passed and at the age of 39 and with some relief I knew I conquered the disease. But just five months after my 40th birthday, I was working out at my gym and felt nauseous. I remember having fish for lunch and it did not “sit” right but I continued my cardio. And then I thought back 24 years and dad said the same thing before going to the ER. I stopped the exercise and broke out in a cold sweat. Fear took over!

I asked for help but the gym manager said I was having symptoms of low blood sugar. I was persistent and insisted he call 911. The EMT’s thought I was hyperventilating so they asked me to breath into a paper bag. If I was having a heart attack that would inflict more harm so I stopped. Little did I know this was the start of my challenge and distrust of our healthcare system.

I asked to be taken to the ER and the EMT’s refused as they were short staffed. I demanded but they said all they could do was call for an ambulance and I would have to pay for the cost as I had no injury or life threatening event. I said just do it! So they did and I went to the ER and the doctor told me I was okay. That was a relief and I felt much better. I guess I just overreacted.

I had uncontrollable muscle movement and that bothered the doc. He scratched his head and said “I’ll keep you here overnight just to be on the safe side. And BTW, we have a new section of the hospital called the Cardiac Care Unit. It is one of the first in the Northwest. I’ll put you there just because you have a family history of heart disease.

Later that night, a guy with a lab coat came to my bedside and said “My name is Dr Frank. This is my first job out of residency and you are my first patient.” I thought, OMG a rookie and I might be having a heart attack. Dr Frank said my blood test results were done and I would be having a heart attack any time now. He told me about the pain and that he had plenty of narcotics to help me along. And, what he said became reality. First pain, and then drugs, then no pain. Dr. Frank stayed with me that night as I was worried about a second attack. My wife Judy is an RN and a damn good one at that. She told me rookie doctors never want to lose their first patient so I was in good hands and that put me as ease. Dr. Frank is one of the good guys.

So what does any of this have to do with SANE? Plenty, I continued with cardiac events for the next 29 years and it was SANE that brought closure.

The new cardiology in 1983 was to exercise the patient ASAP. So the next day, the RN’s had me on my feet and we went for a walk. And we walked through the smoking lounge which was adjacent to the CCU. Oh, how I craved a cigarette.

So what does any of this have to do with SANE? Plenty, I continued with cardiac events for the next 29 years and it was SANE that brought closure. If you have heart disease or the risk of heart disease, you will want to finish reading this post. I will disclose some very important information you will not discover at your doctors office. It could save your life.

Retirement and Digging into the Details of Heart Disease

So again, life goes on and I intensified my research on heart disease. I stopped smoking, increased my aerobic exercise, stopped eating margarine and started taking statin drugs as well as an ACE inhibitor for high blood pressure. I ate healthy foods but continued with my favorite chocolate cake every time I had a chance. After all, cake had no bad ingredients! Of course I was wrong on that one as well as taking the statin drug.

I retired in 1999 at age 55 consistent with my life plan but kept myself fully occupied time wise with my passion for boating in the Puget Sound and British Columbia, a small business and as a surrogate father to my two grandchildren. Just like me, they have a twin and their father is absent from their lives but by choice. We feel their heartache so their other granddad and I take over. The twins have more love than anyone can get but the willful absence of a fathers love is unforgivable. And the love they give back is truly precious.

My cardiac health was good for twenty three years, or so I thought, then all of a sudden in 2006, I started having dizzy spells strong enough to force me to the ground. One day my episodes became severe while driving and I did everything possible to remain conscious and get off the highway without causing an accident. I started deep breathing, drank water, ate cookies and soon regained composure. That lasted 30 minutes before another episode. I pulled over, performed the same routine and started driving home. Guys do that kind of thing. After the third episode, I called my cardiologist hoping he would have a magic pill at the nearest pharmacy. No luck, he said call 911. Thinking back 23 years I thought that would waste time so I drove myself to the ER and collapsed in the lobby. Again, another guy thing! On the way to the ER, I left voice messages for my wife and daughter and by the time I was inserted, poked, stabbed, drugged and patched and with wires and tubes covering my body and staff running around yelling for more drugs, Judy, my daughter and her twins, now age five were in the room. It was like a scene out of the TV program ER. But this time, I was on center stage.

While on the gurney, I had repeated events of ventricular tachycardia with my BPM as high as 200, just below the threshold for fibrillation. You really never want to be at that state unless someone is nearby with a crash cart. That was an evening I will never forget but more memorable, was when my grandson came to me, threaded his arm through the maze of wires and tubes, put his head on my chest, gave me a hug and said “I love you papa.” Next to the Coronary Care Unit.

While in the CCU, I went through a series of tests, including an angiogram and EP Study (electrophysiology study, just Google it!). The bottom line was my LAD artery (left anterior descending, aka Widow maker) narrowed 99%, another major artery had 99% occlusion and two more occlusions at 70%. They told me I needed a quad bypass and it had to be done immediately. Now, I was not born under a turnip truck. The reason I survived the events was because I did high intensity interval training back then and my collateral circulation was beyond excellent. Okay, now the candy is starting to come. HIIT does strengthen the heart muscle so if you read that somewhere, like in SANE, please pay attention and do your eccentric exercise. It performs the same cardio improvement as running. In fact, I was training my heart to run a sub two and a half hour marathon, but only 30 seconds at a time. That tenacity saved my life.

I was training my heart to run a sub two and a half hour marathon, but only 30 seconds at a time. That tenacity saved my life.

The EP study concluded I was vulnerable to ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation. That is when the heart pumps above 120 bpm at rest. It is not life threatening until your rate approaches 200 BPM as it did for me. At that rate, your heart pumps little or no blood and you meet your final fate. That is unless, you have a marvel of modern medical technology installed in your chest, aka the Internal Cardio Defibrillator or ICD. This unit will do two things: 1. If you go into fibrillation, it will shock your heart and you will jump just like on TV. That happened to me twice and I don’t want it to happen again; 2. When your heart beats above a set threshold, the unit will pace your heart back to normal rhythm. That event has happened to me thousands of times and it may have saved my life many times over. One scientist from the Atkins camp told me I was fanatical for making such a statement but little did he know the unit has a solid state drive and records every event including the ECG when I go into fibrillation. It also counts the number of PVC (premature ventricular contraction). After one year, my count was in the millions.

SANE & Eliminating My PVCs and Sleep Apnea

I will jump ahead now because you need some more candy. SANE stopped my PVC’s. Before I started, SANE, they were chronic. I would count one PVC every fourth heartbeat or more. Concurrently, SANE stopped my episodes of sleep apnea. My preventive cardiologist told me that was due to losing weight. Da, it all happened at about day #7 on SANE! Doctors just don’t understand your body unless they learned it in school or from a drug representative and we know drug representatives work for Big Pharma and we also know Big Pharma is corrupt. Unfortunately the reps are also victims. So are the doctors. I do not understand the science behind these cardiac improvements but my best conclusion is metabolic. I now consume nutrient rich, high protein food very frequently during the day with a constant flow of quality energy to the hardest working muscle in the body. I do this without regard to the number of calories. That is SANE way. Now that is opposed to trying to lose weight with infrequent consumption of low quality food (mostly grains, rice, and some sugar along with protein and very few vegetables and let’s not forget the beer). The heart muscle is the hardest working metabolic machine in the body and it requires high quality nutrition constantly. And this constant flow of energy will keep you alive during a crisis.

It all happened at about day #7 on SANE!

Those improvements are today. Let’s get back to the CCU in 2006. The cardiologists, electro physiologists, and a few other doctors came to my room to plan the bypass and I flatly refused. The arguments started and I told them I had to review the lab results with my own cardiologist first. That did not happen and after threats of having my drivers license revoked, I had the surgery. But the refusal delayed the process three days and I landed one of the best surgeons in the area. In fact he was so good, he did open heart surgery without using the traditional heart lung machine.

And just a side note; never ask a nurse for a recommendation. They will only give you the name of their favorite doctor or tell you they cannot give that advice. The correct question to ask is, “If your mom or dad were to have heart surgery, who would you recommend?” It made a huge difference in my choice of a surgeon. He was another good guy!

I left the hospital 10 days later with an ejection fraction in the low 20’s. The EF is the % of blood volume the left ventricle expels to the aorta. Normal EF is closer to 60 and to my surprise; I just discovered my mother, at age 90, has an EF of 65. The remaining blood stays in your LV for the next heartbeat. My surgeon said I would soon recover but we need to keep the thought that my heart attack in 1983 damaged my LV and my normal EF should be in the mid 40’s. I know this is technical stuff but I want to get the message across that if you get yourself in the same mess, a strong heart muscle could mean the difference between life and death. SANE will give you that strong heart muscle but you won’t hear that from your cardiologist. And the best way to do that is with eccentric exercise.

SANE will give you that strong heart muscle but you won’t hear that from your cardiologist. And the best way to do that is with eccentric exercise.

Drugs & Castrating Cardiologists

So, my EF never improved and to make this more complicated, my blood pressure was not sufficient to lead a normal life. Technically this is called heart failure. My doctors gave me a beta blocker to relax and repair the heart muscle and an ACE inhibitor which was contra indicated. The hypotension was caused by the drugs. I was also taking the max dose of statin drug for cholesterol. I started having chronic events of ventricular tachycardia, my left ventricle increased in size, and a massive clot had developed (from not ejecting blood). My wife has a term for this and it is called the “spiral of death”. But I was not ready to die and I fought back and boy was that one bloody fight.

It was time to castrate my cardiologist. All he did was prescribe coumadin which impedes calcium absorption in bone and it finds a place in your arteries. I started my own recovery program with the help of my PCP who reduced the beta blocker and ACE inhibitor by 50%. I was feeling better so I reduced those drugs by another 50%. My blood pressure increased and I was feeling better so I started my HIIT again and drank at least 3 quarts of distilled water daily. My naturopathic doctor told me to take Co Q10 and I did and then I doubled the dose. I then stopped all meds except the statin and made an incredible recovery within three months. My clot dissolved, my left ventricle returned to normal size and my heart rhythm stabilized. And just as important, my EF increased to 40%. Those damn drugs were killing me! And did this recovery impress my cardiologist? Absolutely not!

My next cardiologist prescribed the max dose of Crestor and within a year, the episodes of VT returned and I was in heart failure one more time. Again, I changed cardiologists and had visits with two electro physiologists and no one had an answer. The second EP Doc wanted to due a high risk ablation but I was skeptical as the death risk was 1-2%. There were no medicines that could calm my heart. I thought this was the last straw and my heart just could not take another assault. That evil spiral returned.

I spent weeks searching the net but could not find the answer. Then one day like magic it all came together. I knew Crestor causes muscle weakness and or wasting. I knew the heart is a muscle. But I did not connect the dots (statin drugs cause mental confusion). Then in meditation at yoga I made that connection. In an instant I knew I solved the puzzle. Emotional energy returned to my body and it was powerful. I was now taking only one medication and to the amazement of all my doctors, I made a complete recovery. It took six months to reduce the events of tachycardia and it does get better. I had an EP visit last week and my events were downloaded. Guess what? none, zero , nada nada, not even a hint of tachycardia (this is six months into SANE).

The heart drugs caused weight gain and did more damage to my gut, increasing my waist from a lean 32” to 39”. So if you stayed with me this far, you deserve another big piece of candy and that is coming next. BTW, my new EP Doc, one of the best in the Northwest and at one of the best hospitals changed his exam routine to consider statin drugs as a potential cause of life threatening arrhythmia.

Staring SANE

The time was spring 2011 when I made the Crestor Connection. That drug almost killed me but I now have to resolve the weight issue as well as my cholesterol which immediately jumped to 320. Just by chance, I saw Jonathan Bailor on TV. This young looking guy, probably still wet behind the ears, said you could eat all you want and exercise only a few minutes per week. Oh ya, another miracle cure. But he had a good story and I needed help. So I bought the E-book and within two days I was fully on SANE program.

I just thought I had nothing to lose because I was starving myself, exercising more, and nothing was working.

I just thought I had nothing to lose because I was starving myself, exercising more, and nothing was working. I had a library of exercise and natural health books but not one book put all the right information in one place like SANE. I started the program in February 2012 and six months later my results have been spectacular. So here is the candy I promised:

 

Day #1 of SANE 3 Months Later 6 Months Later
Height

5’ 11”

same

same

Age

68

69

same

Weight

188

182

178

Waist

39”

33”

33”

PVC Count

2 million/yr

200 Thousand

same

Sleep Apnea

Frequent

None noticed

same

Energy Level

poor

Off the wall

same

Total Cholesterol

285

295

268

HDL

69

93

81

LDL

193

189

165

Blood Pressure w/o Drugs

150/90

110/70

same

 
In addition to these amazing improvements, my deadly small particle LDL cholesterol remains below the range minimum. The very same foods recommended by the AHA contribute to increases in the number of small particles. SANE does just the opposite. Go figure!

In addition to these amazing improvements, my deadly small particle LDL cholesterol remains below the range minimum.

Let’s not forget my emotional health made dramatic improvements and I have more sustained energy today than I had prior to my heart attack. My LDL remains high but I started taking Red Yeast Rice and will take another lipid test shortly.

And what about the effective drugs? There is one and the only drug I take today. Two baby aspirin. I also take natural supplements supported by good science. The focus is on how to prevent plaque build up, reduce inflammation and control arrhythmia. SANE does all that but I need a bit more insurance. Perhaps I will write another blog about additional protective measures only for those at extreme risk.

Jonathan Bailor entered my life at a critical crossing and I want to thank him for his research and hard work and his compassion toward people. He will touch the lives of many in a very positive way. There is one more person I need to thank. Dad, you gave me this awful disease but you also gave me courage, tenacity the balls to fight back, and fight back I did. It was your guidance that made me a survivor and not a victim. Thank you dad, I love you.

– Jim