Golfer’s heart health back on par

Ronnie Moore after having an emergency bypass surgery. (MU Health Care)

Ronnie Moore of Ashland, Missouri, says he never dreamed he would need a serious heart surgery at 46 years old, one that would force him to reevaluate and make changes to ensure he was living a healthier lifestyle.

Moore’s story is an important one — as now he lives out this year’s theme, “Small Changes, Big Impact.”

However, there was a time not that long ago when Moore himself didn’t think a major heart issue could threaten his life, saying, “I think at our age, we feel like we are in good shape. I coached soccer, played sports and felt like nothing is going to happen to me.”

Yet, after a few warning signs and minor scares, one finally came that he could not ignore. Late one night in September 2017, Moore felt pain he described as similar to someone sitting on his chest that lasted for more than an hour. He slipped out of his house without waking his wife and drove to MU Health Care’s University Hospital emergency room.

There, doctors diagnosed Moore with blockages in his major coronary arteries along with high cholesterol and uncontrolled diabetes. His treatment: a complete change of his lifestyle combined with bypass surgery. Ashraf Abou El Ela, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at MU Health Care, performed an emergency bypass surgery.

After his surgery, Moore pivoted and began his journey toward a healthy heart. He knew he had to change if he wanted to be around for his wife, three children and three step-children. He also was awaiting the arrival of his first grandchild — a girl — due in March.

Moore’s first step toward better health was giving up smoking two and a half packs of cigarettes a day — a habit he picked up while serving in the Army during the Gulf War.

“When they tell you there’s a chance you won’t be here, it makes you think about what you need to do so you are here,” Moore said. “It was pretty scary. I thought, ‘If something did happen to me where I didn’t make it, what would my family do?’ I always picture how the kids would react if they lost their dad at 46 years old.”

A big part of his recovery has been his work three mornings a week at University Hospital’s Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation gym as part of MU Health Care’s Fit for Life program. His typical workout lasts about an hour and 15 minutes, including aerobic training and weightlifting. Moore also works out at the YMCA in Ashland twice a week.

“He’s an empowered patient,” said Darla Morris, R.N., of the Fit for Life program. “I feel like he can give hope to others. There is an epidemic of obesity, there is an epidemic of diabetes and too many people smoke. He turned all of that around for himself. Of course, the doctors helped him with the bypass, but he decided he is going to help himself by being an active participant in his health care, which is what we’re always trying to encourage our patients to do.”

Moore also dramatically changed his diet. A one-time junk food connoisseur, his mornings now begin with Special K cereal. He has learned to like salads and limits his fast food to one fried-chicken splurge per month. All told, Moore has lost 40 pounds.

“I ran into him at Dillard’s,” Abou El Ela said. “He was there to purchase new clothes because he lost so much weight that none of his fit.”

Those lifestyle changes have made a difference in Moore’s health. His blood sugar level has dropped dramatically. His blood pressure is normal. He is breathing easier. He sleeps better and wakes up with more energy — living proof that small changes can make a big impact.

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