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A Stunning Transformation Thanks to Cardiac Rehab and Next Steps

Fayetteville, Ga. (June 17, 2021) – Heart disease runs in Don Dyche’s family. He had his first blockage when he was 40 years old and three more in a six-month period five years later. He had a heart attack on Dec. 27, 2020 and ended up in Piedmont Fayette Hospital. Dyche knew he had to make some lifestyle changes. He went to a mostly plant-based diet and lost 41 pounds in less than six months. He also took part in Cardiac Rehab at Piedmont Fayette and followed it up with participation in the Next Steps program at the Piedmont Wellness Center.

“When I started cardiac rehab, I was able to walk 1,600 feet (about three tenths of a mile) in six minutes. On June 2, I had improved it to 2,300 feet,” Dyche said. “The improvements continued in Next Steps as I got stronger and more flexible. I went from being able to do 10 push-ups on Apr. 12 to 25 on June 11.”

Cardiac rehab built Dyche’s confidence by monitoring him while he exercised. The staff encouraged him in his lifestyle changes and let him know he was safe to increase his physical activity. Next Steps is a fitness program at the Piedmont Wellness Center for individuals transitioning from or managing a medical condition. Unlike in cardiac rehab, Dyche was not hooked into any monitors during Next Steps, but licensed exercise physiologists were nearby to answer questions and continued to encourage him.

Dyche credits both programs with helping him gain strength and confidence, but he knows diet plays an important role as well. He read several books about nutrition’s impact on heart health and, on the advice of numerous cardiologists, adopted a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

“I eat a lot of greens, grains, fruits, and beans and I’ve seen a lot of success,” Dyche said.  “It was important to lose weight, but also build better, more sustainable eating habits.”

For more information on cardiology services and cardiac rehab, visit piedmont.org/heart. For information on the Next Steps program, visit piedmontwellnesscenter.com.

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