Unlucky genes: When “pretty healthy” isn’t good enough

Peter Riveri 5522Peter Riveri had always done everything right.

An avid runner and exercise fanatic, he appeared to be the picture of health.

Unfortunately, his genes were leading him on a deadly path.

About five years ago, he grew concerned that he wasn’t tolerating his workouts to the same degree. He felt sluggish.

After going to Tucson Medical Center for tests, he ended up needing a stent.

He admits to being depressed. Maybe even a bit angry afterward. “I lived what I thought was a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

Riveri initially resisted going to the cardiac rehabilitation program. He hadn’t gone through open heart surgery. He had his own home gym. He didn’t think he needed a structured program.

But after giving it a try, he found it helped him psychologically to see how others, with more significant physical issues, chose to respond to their own challenges. A competitive person, he finds motivation in the drive of others. He has also made good friends over the years, including Rick Randels. 

“The fact is, I don’t need to come here,” Riveri said. “I choose to come here, because I really enjoy working out here.”

In addition to his workouts, he also has switched to a vegan diet. His cholesterol is now below 100 mg, without medication.

“I don’t want to preach, but you make decisions in life that put you in a position for bad things to happen later on down the road,” he said.

He shares that message with cardiac patients at Tucson Medical Center, where he assists as a volunteer. “We talk to people in the hospital who have had surgery or have gotten a stent and we let them know there’s a path to keep them out of hospital if they choose to go down it.”

“In time, they can be back, healthy, and having an active lifestyle. Whether they choose to do it or not is up to them,” he said.

And when he runs into them later at the rehabilitation facility, Riveri added, “It kind of makes you feel good because you’ve had some impact on their health and a positive impact on their lives.”

Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461