With February, American Heart Month, around the corner, now is a good time to reflect on what you’re doing to maintain or improve your heart health and make changes that could save your life. If you need inspiration, look no further than these two former Adventist HealthCare heart patients.

Chris Barritt: The Ride of His Life

Chris BarrittThis former Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital heart surgery patient is pacing himself to meet his goals. “I have been living heart-healthy by eating well, taking a vigorous 40-minute walk every day and mak-ing sure to get a proper night’s sleep,” Barritt says. Months after open-heart surgery to remove a life-threatening tumor, Barritt was able to take the cross-country motorcycle trip he had been planning prior to his procedure.

“Heart patients who have well-established healthy eating and exercise habits have an advantage during the recovery period,” says Paul Massimiano, MD, heart surgeon and program director of cardiac surgery at Washington Adventist Hospital, who performed Barritt’s surgery. “I was confi dent Chris would follow the right steps on the road to recovery and we’d get him back to his adventurous lifestyle.”

Now, more than three years later, Barritt, of Mount Airy, is still taking on new adventures. His latest—completing a sprint triathlon that required him to swim 400 meters, bike 14 miles and run a 5K, for which he trained 10 months. “I want to stay as healthy and active as I can,” he says. “I think I have the responsibility to my family to take care of my heart and keep it in good shape.”

Ruth Garrett: Happy Just to Dance

Ruth-GarrettIt has been three years since this Clarksburg resident underwent a minimally invasive heart procedure, called a radial catheterization, to open up her blocked heart arteries. The intervention helped her regain her stamina and continue participating in her favorite hobby: tap dancing.

Garrett credits Michael Chen, MD, interventional cardiologist at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center and Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital, and her team of nurses and caregivers for giving her another chance at a vibrant, active life at age 85.

“I eat a healthy diet, and I’m still taking my dance classes twice a week,” Garrett says. “I’m especially enjoying spending time with friends and family, including the newest member of my family: a great-grandbaby.”