I recently saw in The Explorer that presentations on "Coronary Artery Disease Can be Reversed" will be offered at the Tucson Jewish Community Center and the YMCA, given by Edna Silva, RN, and Richy Feinberg.

The article brought back memories of great apprehension and fear for the health of my husband and myself. And what initially was a frightening incident in our lives turned out to be a positive, heart-healthy, life-changing experience.

In September 2000, my husband Jim had a massive heart attack. We looked for a program. We desperately needed some meaningful guidelines that we could follow. We needed a support system, but we couldn't find any.

Jim's doctor recommended Dr. Charles Katzenberg, a preventive cardiologist. Four years later, I saw a flyer in his office about the 12-week Heart Disease Reversal Program. I felt it was important for me to accompany Jim in the program as a supporting spouse — so we signed up.

Because I was very overweight, Edna Silva, the facilitator of the program, suggested I take a calcium test for my heart. I did. And because my calcium number was high, it was recommended that I get an angiogram. The angiogram was stopped halfway through because I had fibrillation. The doctor who did the procedure recommended I see a surgeon immediately.

The surgeon recommended I have bypass surgery the following Monday. I said "No!"

A couple of days later I got a call from his office scheduling me for surgery the following Friday. I said "No!" I made an appointment with Jim's cardiologist, Dr. Katzenberg. He looked at the video and he could see the blockages and did notice that I had many collateral veins supporting my heart. I still was adamant against surgery. Dr. Katzenberg said that he would not push surgery providing I followed the program that Jim was doing. I saw what my husband went through with bypass surgery and I was determined to do anything to avoid surgery.

I had a meeting with Edna Silva, did Tai Chi, and I followed the program religiously. I exercised, read labels on food, became a vegetarian, and continued following the program. Before I followed the program, I weighed 170 pounds. Six months later I weighed 125 pounds. Today, my lipid profile is good, my heart collaterals are growing and I feel better than I have in many years. Thanks to Edna Silva and Dr. Katzenberg for their education, attention, guidance and support, my quality of life has improved tremendously.

I continually talk to friends and neighbors who have heart disease about this wonderful 36-hour, life-saving program. Many of them say, "Oh, it cost $300, that's more than I want to spend." I look at them and I smile. Then I break down the cost and it comes to about $8 an hour. I ask them, "Is that too much money to spend to put you on a road to a better quality of life … and possibly save your life?"

I would recommend this program from the bottom of my heart to anyone who experiences heart disease. The program changed the quality of life for both my husband and myself. I'm sure it will be beneficial to anyone who has heart disease.

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