Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Heart attack patient tackles Boston marathon

For the past five months Arthur Manjourides, 66, has been hitting the road every Sunday for a fast walk/run around Boston. Despite the cold and snow this winter, Arthur kept up his weekly commitment with one goal in mind – to finish the Boston Marathon.

On April 21, Manjourides made his way down along the 26.2 mile historic Boston Marathon course with thousands of other runners, fulfilling that goal only one year after a heart attack changed his life.

“The idea of running 26.2 miles had never even crossed my mind one year ago,” says Manjourides. “But after the heart attack I realized I had to make some changes.”

Now Manjourides is 45 pounds lighter and more active than ever. “I feel better than I did before the heart attack,” he says.

Letting it Sink In

Manjourides said he had no symptoms of heart disease. When he woke up at 2:30 am with a searing pain in his shoulder he thought he had torn his rotator cuff. When the pain spread to his other shoulder, he knew he should go to the hospital.

An hour later, Manjourides was at Massachusetts General Hospital and doctors were working to clear his front artery, which was 100 percent blocked.

“It took three months for the fact that I had a heart attack to sink in,” says Manjourides. “I always pictured a heart attack as an older person with a crushing chest pain collapsing to the floor, but that was not me. That was not my experience.”

Hitting the Gym

Six weeks after surgery, Manjourides started down the path to lifestyle change. He joined the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program where the nurses taught him about good nutrition. The program also helped him start exercising for the first time in years.

After cardiac rehabilitation and losing 45 pounds, Manjourides made the decision to tackle the Boston Marathon.

His cardiologist, Aaron Baggish, MD, from the Mass General Heart Center, has supported the decision by working with Manjorides and his personal trainer to develop an exercise regime to help him achieve this goal.

“When Dr. Baggish talked to my personal trainer at the gym he said, ‘Exercise Arthur vigorously,’” said Manjourides. He works out at the gym most days and does his outdoor runs on Sundays.

“Almost everything wrong with the body can be improved with exercise. It's as important as any pill, stent or catherization," said Baggish, who has run more that 25 marathons. "You need to find a doctor willing to work with you on incorporating exercises that will work for you into your life."

Support and Recognition

Manjourides has also brought his success to work. He and his siblings run Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe at 429 Columbus St. in the South End. The restaurant has earned a reputation for its big breakfasts, but after learning about good nutrition Manjourides has added some heart healthy fare, like bean salads and fish, to the menu.

His regular customers have also commented on his success and are asking how he did it.

“One of my customers asked me what I eat for breakfast, and I told him oatmeal with raisins and nuts,” he said. “Now he orders the Arthur Special for breakfast.”

Manjourides said he was happy to have the support of friends, family and his care team at Mass General in both training for the marathon and changing his lifestyle.

“Now this is over, I am going to keep going and doing more things like this to stay active,” he says.

Back to Top