Brian Grubb before the weight loss.
Winston-Salem, NC - As a paramedic and firefighter for more than 30 years and more recently Chief Deputy at the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, Brian Grubb could be found just about anywhere doing just about anything. But in his free time, he was more likely found on a couch than a gym.
"You just continue to get to where you don't want to do anything, but just sit around and rest. That was happening to me. Didn't realize it. Just couldn't go. Had no energy," he said.
Those days are over. He is at the gym seven days a week now.
"I'll either do the stationary bike, the treadmill or the elliptical. Kind of mix it up. Then, every other day I do strength training," he said.
Last year, Grubb weight 330 pounds. He started working out in April 2009. But, in October he started feeling weak and nauseated at work.
He was admitted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where cardiologist Vinay Thohan discovered Grubb's heart was shaped like a softball. It was enlarged to almost twice its normal size and was functioning at 15 percent of its normal rate.
"Normal is about 55 to 60 percent. So his was only at 15 percent, so his left ventricle is not contracting and not able to squeeze and maintain blood flow to his extremities as well as keep off the extra fluid. So one of the symptoms can be that you have swelling in your legs and actually that swelling can increase to the point that you have shortness of breath along with congestive heart failure," said Cynthia Hayes, registered nurse at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
The heart failure was caused by years of obesity and high blood pressure.
"You know, I guess back when I was in my 20s, probably weighed 250, 260 pounds and I probably felt ok then. But, gradually, you don't really know. It just creeps on you just a little bit," Grubb said.
He said Dr. Thohan looked at several options including medication, exercise and even a heart transplant.
Grubb did not get a transplant, but did begin taking medication and focused on working out and eating right. In November, he began cardiac rehabilitation at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. He continues to do a maintenance program each Friday at the hospital, where nurses monitor his progress.
When he eats, he tries to stay between 2,000 and 2,300 calories.
"I found out that the calorie counting and the exercise has been my only way to do it," Grubb said.
He also watches his sodium intake, which Hayes said is especially important for people with congestive heart failure.
"You can only have 2,300 milligrams a day. The average person out in the community takes in 6,000, 7,000 a day and they don't even realize it," she said.
Grubb is down to 210 pounds and hopes to eventually shed more to reach 190 to 195. Hayes said Grubb is losing one to two pounds a week now.
"(If I would not) have started this program, there's a possibility I may not be here now," he said.
And the husband, father and grandfather has a lot to live for. He has one two-year-old grandson and he'll have four grandchildren by Thanksgiving.
"My youngest daughter Kerri is expecting twins. They'll be here probably sometime in July. And my oldest daughter just found out she's expecting and she'll have her child sometime in the fall," he said.
"He is in much higher sprits than when I first met him because he had no idea what direction or what path that his life was going to take for him. He had no idea if he would be here a year from now," Hayes said.
She said people can learn lessons from Grubb and that it's never too late to take additional steps to improve one's health.
"If you loose as little as five to 10 pounds, that is an asset to improve your blood pressure as well as it helps your heart not to have to work as hard because you're not carrying that extra five or 10 pounds," she said.
Grubb walked and ran in a 5K last month to benefit the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center's Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Patient Scholarship Fund.
The Guilford Heart and Stroke Walk will be held Saturday. Registration starts at 8 a.m. at Greensboro's Country Park. The walk beings at 9 a.m. Organizers said they hope to raise $375,000 for the American Heart Association. You can find registration, donation and walk information by clicking here.
WFMY News 2