Gerry pictured on a walk with his wife Monika.

Okanagan resident recalls recovery journey after heart attack

Gerry Bakker shares his experience after his heart attack 16 years ago at the age of 48

West Kelowna resident Gerry Bakker was 48 years old when he suffered a heart attack, making him rethink all of his lifestyle decisions after surviving the encounter.

His story started on a hot summer day 16 years ago, when Bakker said he was on a regular work shift helping to fix electronics around local Kelowna businesses.

READ MORE: Heart attack raises questions about boarding BC Ferries in health emergencies

Bakker recalls suffering the heart attack around dinner time that day. After his wife rushed him to Kelowna Hospital and he was later released on blood thinners, Bakker vividly remembers what medical personnel told him about the ordeal.

“They sent me home with a simple message, that ‘we’ve done what we can for you,’” Bakker said.

“They said they want me to know that this is a result of not getting enough exercise and eating junk food. With this knowledge, there is no excuse anymore.”

It took two painstaking weeks before Bakker was told by doctors that he needed surgery to have tissue taken from other parts of his body to help repair a blocked artery feeding his heart muscle.

Bakker acknowledged that it was a long journey from his post-surgery to get to where he is today.

“I began my treatment at the Complete Health Improvement Program at Kelowna SDA Church,” he said.

“It gave me the skills to look for the right foods in my diet. I began eating more peas, carrots, vegetables and I cut all meat out of my diet. I also began walking five kilometers a day. Within half a year, my tests showed a lot of improvement.”

Fifteen years later on his new routine, doctors told him his previously-blocked vein was as healthy as a ten year old’s.

Despite being much healthier at the age of 64 in comparison to his 48-year-old self, Bakker said that he no longer takes his days for granted.

“From that experience 16 years ago, I found out that you never know when your last day is,” he said.

”I come to value every day that I have is a bonus. I always make the time for the grandkids and I enjoy the accompaniment of my friends and family. I can also climb a mountain and do whatever I want.”

Bakker said his daughter has decided to become a doctor due to the experience they encountered as a family.

To see some of Bakker’s recipes for healthy living, you can visit his blog.

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