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‘I still had a lot of life to live’ Quadruple bypass survivor spreads awareness on National Wear Red Day

Heart Health: Ed Acre's Journey
Heart Health: Ed Acre's Journey

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ed Arce may be turning 60 in a couple of months, but he’s truly in the best shape of his life. He works out with a trainer multiple times a week and leads a healthy, active lifestyle. These days, Arce feels great.

“I think for me, it just gives a kind of newfound confidence,” Arce said. “And almost being 60, it seems like I’ve got my youthful vigor back.”

But that return to youth didn’t happen overnight. It came with quite a few struggles along the way. In 2002, Arce had a heart attack at age 41. Stents were put in right away, allowing Arce to make a full recovery. But as the years went on, Arce admits he wasn’t taking care of himself, and eventually, his weight ballooned to 205 pounds. In November 2013, Arce had a second heart attack at age 52.

“That was another wake-up call,” Arce said. “That was, it was tough.

Right after his second heart attack, Arce had a quadruple bypass. It’s a procedure performed when four blood vessels are blocked. Despite being terrified in the operating room, Arce says his faith brought comfort.

“I just said a little prayer, and I just felt God’s presence,” Arce said. “And I just felt like He was going to get me through that.”

While faith and family support helped him through the surgery, the doctor still gave Arce another stern wake-up call.

“He said, ‘Ed, if you don’t change your lifestyle, in 5 years, you’re going to be dead,’” Arce said. “I don’t want to die, I felt like I still had a lot of life to live.”

With that, Arce changed his eating habits and picked up an exercise regimen he had given up years before. Leading a healthy lifestyle not only makes him feel good, but it’s also given him a sense of accomplishment. His message for others--the end result is worth the journey.

“I’m starting to feel more alive than ever and I’m going to experience my senior years,” Arce said. “I think for me, it’s just an amazing journey and I’m all for it.”

Arce also recommends taking small steps at a time. He says, if needed, ask a professional to help you with your diet, and find an exercise that works for you and your lifestyle.

The American Heart Association says heart disease remains the leading cause of death, for both men and women, worldwide and in the United States. More than 125 million people or roughly 50% of all adults in the U.S. have cardiovascular disease.

The AHA also says only 39% of women received CPR from a bystander, compared to 45% of men. Men’s odds of surviving a cardiac event were 23% higher than women’s. Immediate Hands-Only CPR can double, or even triple, someone’s chance of survival. To learn more, visit: https://www.heart.org/en/affiliates/florida/first-coast

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.