I just finished the book The Heart Attack That Saved My Life. The author was happily married with a son, but had settled into a sedentary life with unhealthy eating habits. A serious heart attack was his wake-up call- at age 39. He learned healthier eating during his rehab. And he slowly got active, starting with walking and later switching to biking. After a gradual initiation he eventually got quite serious about it, and ended up doing many challenging rides over the years including mountainous hundred mile rides (centuries). The most impressive was when he did one of these, with multiple difficult climbs, on a single speed bike.
Almost 20 years later he unfortunately had another serious hard attack. The “widowmaker“, or left anterior descending coronary artery, had become blocked by a blood clot. This artery got its name because it can often lead to fatal heart attacks when blocked. He does admit in the chapter describing this second heart attack that he had gotten somewhat complacent about healthy eating. Perhaps he could have gone longer without the second heart attack if he had eaten better in addition to his active lifestyle. Sadly, over a year later he died from a final heart attack. Maybe that too could have been prevented by healthy eating. So that motivated me to do better on my own dietary choices. But it was not the main lesson I drew from the book.
Going back to his first heart attack, if he had not changed his lifestyle and become active, he probably would have continued on with a debilitating decline to an early death. Instead, he added 20 happy and vibrant years to his life. His was a life well lived, despite tragically being cut short.