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East County Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018 2 years ago

Lifestyle changes extend heart health

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David Matuszak says he learned a valuable lesson after undergoing triple bypass heart surgery.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

David Matuszak was picking up sand buckets at the Waterford Golf Course in Venice where he worked when his chest started to hurt.

A week later, he had trouble finishing mowing his lawn. He couldn’t catch his breath and felt pressure in his chest.

“I usually never go to the doctor, but that week I just decided to go. And then I was having open heart surgery,” Matuszak said.

Matuszak ended up having a triple bypass. He avoided a heart attack by getting medical help once he noticed the symptoms.

That was in 1997. At the time of his surgery, Matuszak was 53 years old and weighed 225 pounds. Twenty years later, he’s 74 and weighs 190 pounds. He exercises almost every day.

“They told me that I had a strong heart, no permanent heart damage,” Matuszak.

The doctors told him the bypass was only supposed to last 15 years. After that, they said he would have to undergo another bypass surgery or have a pacemaker installed. But Matuszak hasn’t needed either of those follow-up treatments.

“Here I am, 20 years later,” Matuszak said. “I do my exercises religiously. I got down to 180 pounds right after my surgery and I gained back 10 pounds. I think that’s pretty good.”

Matuszak eliminated red meats like steak and burgers and other fatty foods from his diet.

“I think the thing I miss eating most is ice cream,” Matuszak said. “When I was younger, I would eat a pint of ice cream anytime I wanted.”

Matuszak and his wife, Sue, live in the Creekwood area of Bradenton now. He plays racquetball every week at the YMCA and still plays golf in Venice every week after retiring from the course. He stretches and eats salads at most meals.

“I eat a lot of turkey, fish and chicken. Even when I go out to eat, I find fish on the menu,” Matuszak said. “I have to keep my blood pressure down, my cholesterol down.”

Sue Matuszak said when she and her husband first got to the hospital before he had his surgery, things went so smoothly that she didn’t have time to dwell on it.

“It happened so quickly,” she said. “The doctor told us not to sit around in the waiting room for three to four hours and to go out and get breakfast. For some reason, once we knew it would be done we [she and her sons] weren’t nervous.”

At the time of his surgery, Matuszak had two arteries with a 95% blockage. He doesn’t see himself getting back in that condition again.

“I’m looking to live longer than 80 or 85,” Matuszak said. “Anything over than 80 will be fine. And I’m almost there.”

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