"I needed to do something," recalls Mr. Youngkrantz. "I was overweight with high cholesterol levels and a strong family history for heart attack and stroke."
In December of 2006, Mr. Youngkrantz began his quest to improve his lifestyle with a full medical work-up conducted by his internist, Paul V. Szyperski MD, and cardiologist, James D. Flaherty, MD. "By April of 2007, at the age of 59, I had one heart attack and two percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI or angioplasty) that placed three stents in my narrowed coronary arteries."
In May 2007 Mr. Youngkrantz started cardiac rehabilitation and by November 2007 he was working with a dietitian and exercise physiologist at the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness.
"I learned quite a bit about heart health and exercise at cardiac rehabilitation and the one thing that still sticks with me every day is to exercise smart and know your limits. As I have increased my activity since my heart attack, I have consulted with my internist every step of the way," said Mr. Youngkrantz.
"During my first session at the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness...my dietary goals were established.... In addition, I decided to visit the exercise physiologist for guidance on what I should be doing in addition to my cardiac rehabilitation workouts. As a result, the exercise physiologist created a weight training program that would fit my schedule and the amount of time I could spend each day."
Fast forward to today and Mr. Youngkrantz has lost 60 pounds and significantly lowered his cholesterol levels by eating a heart-healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. An avid cross-training athlete, a few of Mr. Youngkrantz's exercise accomplishments include:
November 2007, competing in the "Go Vertical Chicago 2008 Sears Tower Stair Climb" where climbers ascend 2,109 steps (1,353 feet straight up or 103 stories) to the Sears Tower Skydeck.
August 2008, completing the "Sprint Distance Triathlon" which consists of a .75K swim, a 22K bike ride and a 5K run. "My goal was to finish under 2 hours," Mr. Youngkrantz stated. "My race time was 1:53:38."
"As soon as I finished the 2008 triathlon, I decided I wanted to compete again in 2009," said Mr. Youngkrantz. "My goal for 2009 is to finish in 1:40:00 or less. Of course the folks at cardiac rehabilitation and the Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness have encouraged me to reach this goal and will guide me all along the way!
In October of 2008, Mr. Youngkrantz was awarded the American Heart Association (AHA) Lifestyle Change Award which recognizes individuals who have made positive changes to improve their quality of life and health. Mr. Youngkrantz received his award on September 26, 2008 at the AHA Heart Walk after being nominated by Rita Szymanski, RN, Clinical Coordinator for Cardiac Rehabilitation at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Mr. Youngkrantz has made dramatic strides in decreasing his risk for heart disease by commitment and effort," said Ms. Szymanski.
Mr. Youngkrantz also wants to point out that if he sounds like a raving fan of Northwestern Memorial Hospital - he is! "It only seems fitting as I have been a patient of Northwestern Memorial Hospital since being born here in 1948." ***