Q&A with CCTV America’s Franc Contreras on dealing with heart disease

CCTV News

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CCTV America’s Franc Contreras recently underwent a multiple bypass heart surgery. Watch his personal account and follow along as he answers questions about the experience in this Q&A.

CCTV America's Franc Contreras shares personal account of open heart surgery

CCTV America's Franc Contreras shares personal account of open heart surgery

In this first edition of "Inside and Out" -- a new series by Global Business America focusing on what's making news in health and business -- we take a personal look at heart disease. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death around the world, according to the World Health Organization. Patients often opt for invasive procedures including angioplasties, stents and bypass heart surgery. CCTV America's Franc Contreras brings us an extraordinary, first person account of his own quintuple bypass heart surgery. A warning, this story contains come graphic images of surgery.

Follow Franc Contreras on Twitter @FrancMex

Q:
How did you get heart disease? Do you think your diet was the main factor or was it was genetic?

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A: My cardiologist says in my case it’s likely that my heart disease is genetic. After my surgery I discovered that one of my grandfathers had it and other family members have too.

From my way of seeing it, I always took good care of my diet making certain to eat what I thought were healthy foods. And I thought I did enough walking to count as exercise. But that was not the case.

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Doctors now tell me that I need to do 40 minutes a day of cardiovascular exercise keeping my heart rate of a certain number of beats per minute during that entire time.

Q:What were your thoughts about the medical system that treated you?

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A: I was treated at a highly professional private hospital in Mexico City. My cardiologist and surgeons are first rate and I’ve conducted hundreds of similar surgeries during their many years of practice. I would say this part of Mexico’s medical system concurs with that of Europe for the best of United States. But but not every Mexican hospital meets the standards. I was quite lucky in the sense.

Q:How have you changed your diet and exercise level since the surgery? How hard was that to adjust to?

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A: I actually started changing my diet days before the surgery opting to eat many vegetables in place of animal products.

And now I am switching more to a vegan diet and following a special diet called a Nutritarian diet approach. It emphasizes the need for us to eat foods that are nutrition dense.

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For me, in general, it was not that hard to make the switch. Though I am a big meat lover, I think I love my life more. And I do believe that by eating more vegetables that does help my health.

It is important that I also start to deal in a better way with managing my stress. I live in Mexico City, a place that is constantly filled traffic and is a very difficult to move around in. The air pollution here certainly not good for heart patients. And being a journalist on daily deadline also presents certain challenges.

Q:What advice would you give to people who also have to face this type of surgery?

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A: For others who are going to face this sort of surgery, I would urged you to do as much relaxation as possible. Make certain you have the presence of people who love you and who are going to be kind to you during the recovery period. This is a crucial part of the recovery.

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There are going to be days when you feel like you’re making great advances. But there will also be difficult days what you feel like you’ve taken steps backwards. But just hang in there. If I got through this you can, too.