Living a heart-healthy life
ourteen years ago, husband and wife John and Joan Mutch of La Crosse both had triple-bypass open-heart surgery just six weeks apart. Family history is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so the odds for their three sons, at first blush, may seem alarming. Instead, the Mutches handed down a valuable lesson to their sons…a lesson they have, quite literally, taken to heart.
“Growing up we were poor, so our diet would be shocking by today’s standards,” recalls Joan. “We cooked everything in lard, food was preserved in salt. And although we both quit years before our surgeries, John and I both smoked at one time.”
Their brush with heart disease was a wake-up call for Joan and John. After surgery, they made some important changes in their lives. It started with cardiac rehab under the guidance of Gundersen Lutheran exercise physiologists and nutrition experts. “At rehab they would push us to improve and keep us motivated. We also learned to eat better,” says Joan.
To this day, John, now 72 years old, and 70-year-old Joan continue to participate in Gundersen Lutheran’s Movin’ and Improvin’, use their treadmill 30 to 40 minutes most mornings and follow a diet low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. Even when they travel, they always look for opportunities to get in a workout.
But it didn’t stop there. The Mutches sons, Dan, Tom and Steve, all in their 40s, have also adopted healthier lifestyles as a result of their parents’ health scare. According to Joan, they are very active doing things such as long-distance biking, working out at the Y and participating in triathlons.