Earlier this year, Biggest Loser trainer suffered a heart attack while at the gym—and now he's speaking out about his ordeal.
Earlier this year, Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper suffered a heart attack while at the gym—and now he's speaking out about his ordeal.
"I was in full cardiac arrest. My heart stopped. Not to be dramatic, but I was dead. I was on that ground dead," Harper told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie.
After doctors at the gym administered a defibrillator on site, Harper was rushed to the hospital where he learned what happened after regaining consciousness.
"I had what they call a 'widow-maker.' It was a 6 percent survival rate, and the fact that there were doctors in the gym when I had the heart attack saved my life."
Though the active 51-year-old's shocking heart attack was probably largely due to genetics (the trainer says he has a history of heart issues in his family), Harper's Instagram reveals he's still making some dramatic lifestyle changes as part of his recovery.
"As this story shows us, even super healthy and fit people can have a myocardial infarction," says Niket Sonpal, M.D., assistant clinical professor at Touro College of Medicine in New York City.
And getting back to a regular fitness routine—especially like the kind Harper is used to—is a process.
"You may want to jump back into a super healthy lifestyle, but gradual change to diet, lifestyle, and exercise rehabilitation is better than trying to run the marathon right away."
Since his heart attack, Harper has been applying his famous work ethic to recovering responsibly, posting about his slow-and-steady cardiac rehab, including the fact that he's switched to a Mediterranean Diet, per his docs' suggestion.
He's also been dealing with haters who think he should be following a strict vegan diet instead.
In the meantime, Harper's been foregoing his usual CrossFit workouts for more low-key treadmill sessions.
But the rehab process isn't just physical, says Sonpal. "During heart attack recovery, there is an equal emotional recovery period," he says. "A heart attack can leave you with strong feelings about what has happened to you.
Denial, anger, and depression are common emotions among people who have had heart attacks." Harper posted a thank you to his supporters (and his dog Karl) for keeping his spirits high in light of his emotional trauma.
While on the TODAY Show, Harper revealed that he had some "dizzy spells" before his heart attack but didn't really pay attention. "Maybe I should've really taken that more seriously," he said. "It's been a huge wake-up call for me."