Heart attack inspires former Goshen mayor to change his lifestyle

June 27, 2019

A family history of heart disease has kept Mike Puro vigilant about his eating habits, activities and sense of wellbeing his entire adult life. He ate vegetarian for 40 years, rode his bike and had a positive outlook on life.
 
After a series of heart events, including a heart attack, stent placement and talk of open heart surgery, the former mayor of Goshen needed to take on a new challenge to reverse his cardiovascular disease.
Puro, 70, was determined to avoid open heart surgery so he joined a nine-week cardiac rehabilitation program, called Ornish Lifestyle Medicine™, at Goshen Heart & Vascular Center. Currently, this is the only site in Indiana and Michigan to offer the program.
 
Whole foods, exercise, stress management and group support
The Ornish program is proven to reduce the risk factors of heart disease. Puro and his classmates followed a low-fat nutrition plan emphasizing real foods found in nature rather than processed foods. They exercised at least 30 minutes a day. They released stress through guided yoga and meditation. Lastly, they learned how to give and receive love and support to feel happier.
 
In the beginning, finding new ways to eat – and enjoy food – proved tough. “I was a lazy vegetarian,” Puro said. Cheese, nuts, high-processed foods had been a part of his life – and weight gain – for years. That stopped once he started the program.
 
“We show participants how to cook food differently, shop differently and experiment with food,” said Karen Sommers, Clinical Coordinator for Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Services at Goshen Heart & Vascular Center.
 
The most powerful elements of the program for Puro were group support, yoga and meditation. “It’s helpful for the heart to deal with unresolved issues,” he said.
 
“This is a lifelong process,” Sommers said. “Success depends on strong relationships that participants form with others in class and Ornish graduates around the area.”
 
Puro’s class has built a tight bond. Even before graduation, they planned a reunion with Puro as lead chef. “I want to become one of the best Ornish cooks there are,” he said.
 
Healthy choices leading to life-altering habits
After 90 days, Puro lost 9 pounds, reduced stress and even learned to like the taste of kale. Best of all, his blood pressure, cholesterol and depression score were all significantly lower, reducing the likelihood he will need open heart surgery in the future.