Going the Distance to Get Heart Healthy

September 17, 2017

man on treadmill

After having a heart attack, a Mammoth resident travels to Reno to complete rehab. He’s already lost 15 pounds and gained a healthier outlook on life. 

Eric Smith travels from his home in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., to Reno twice a week to participate in Renown Health’s Healthy Heart Program.


“Living in Mammoth, it’s a three hour drive for me up here. Well, it’s my life or it’s a drive,” says Healthy Heart Program participant Eric Smith.

The Mammoth Lakes, Calif., resident travels to Reno twice a week to participate in the 72-session program. which includes heart-healthy classes, exercise sessions and cooking demonstrations.

“The cardiac rehab program here is excellent,” Smith says. “It is the only program that I am aware of that combines nutrition and exercise together. What’s the point of exercising to get your heart strong if you are still eating poorly and not educating yourself on that?”

Smith’s heart issues began when he was 46-years-old. He received an angioplasty, which is a stent to hold a coronary artery open. Two years later, Smith had a heart attack and was flown to Renown Regional Medical Center for emergency bypass surgery on four arteries to allow blood to flow to his heart more freely.

An avid skier, ski racing coach and tile setter, Smith admits that it is sometimes difficult to eat right when you’re on the go in a tourist town.

Since starting the cardiac rehab program, Smith says he is feeling more optimistic on making lasting lifestyle changes after meeting other people who are going through the same challenges, like food cravings and trying to get stronger.

“The big thing is getting educated on food,” says Smith, who has swapped out heavy breakfasts for whole grains and fruit, and steak dinners for baked fish. In just a few months of starting the program, Smith lost 15 pounds.

He looks forward to passing along what he’s learned to his friends. 

“Everybody benefits from this program, especially if you have experienced a heart attack,” Smith says. “But if you don’t have those issues, you can still get the benefits from eating healthier.”

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