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Heart attack survivor Shaun Manocha shows the scars from his surgeries.

RADHICA DE SILVA

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Heart attack survivor Shaun Manocha is using his new lease on life to bring awareness about the dangers of heart disease.

At the age of 40, Manocha survived two heart surgeries all done within nine months.

Now, the father of two uses the scars on his chests as a grim reminder of how he almost lost everything.

In an interview with Guardian Media, Manocha said he started smoking at the age of 18, unaware that smoking was narrowing his arteries. His grandparents, uncles and his father Dipinder Manocha had all suffered from heart disease at a young age, but Manocha believed because he was athletic and played cricket and football regularly, he was not in harm’s way.

He loved eating steak, lobster, doubles and other fried foods. He smoked and played sports to de-stress.

Being the chief executive officer of Caribbean Safety Products Limited, Manocha’s life was demanding and fast-paced. His enjoyed planning family vacations and assisting various children charities.

In August 2019, while on a family vacation in Miami, Manocha began getting excruciating chest pains. He was rushed to the Emergency Room of the Aventura Hospital and Medical Centre. There they discovered that his left artery was totally blocked and he needed emergency surgery.

A stainless steel stent was placed to widen the artery and two days later, he had another surgery again to clear two more arteries.

“ In all, they placed stents in three of my arteries. After two months I was given clearance to fly back home. I started to eat right and exercise. I stopped smoking. I believed I was on my way to recovery,” Manocha recalled.

However, nine months later, he again began developing excruciating chest and jaw pains. It was in June 2020 and T&T was facing the COVID-19 lockdown.

“I went to my local cardiologist at Caribbean Heart Care. They did an urgent angiogram and found that the three stents were blocked up again.”

Manocha said he was diagnosed with in-stent restenosis which affects only two per cent of patients with stent implants,” Manocha said.

The blockage was 90 per cent and once again Manocha went under the knife.

“I had to do urgent open-heart triple bypass surgery. Many of my friends felt I should have returned to Miami but I didn’t. My surgery was done right here at Caribbean Heart Care and I was impressed by their service and my recovery under their care,” Manocha said.

Now, seven months later, Manocha wants T&T to know that it was possible to get exceptional and efficient open heart surgery locally.

“My heart attacks could have been fatal but it was not. I believe I was given a new lease on life which I am using to educate p[eople about the importance of safeguarding their health,” Manocha said.

He said enough is not being done to educate young people about the dangers of smoking.

Having smoked for 20 years, Manocha said he regretted having a vice which impacted negatively on his health.

Manocha said he has been invited to speak at several companies educating workers about handling stress.

“It is OK to have a vice or a hobby but it should not be a vice or hobby that is bad for your health,” he said.

Manocha said he also wanted people to have faith in the local health institutions.

Today, Manocha said he takes two days off from work every week. He uses Fridays and Saturdays to spend time with his family.

He has a garden and has changed his diet to include fewer carbs and more protein. He enjoys vegetables and no longer eats fried foods.

He also maintains a basic exercise routine, engaging in a brisk hour’s walk at Palmiste Park daily. Whenever it rains, Manocha exercises on his treadmill for the same duration.

Although there are four scars on his chest, Manocha said it reminds him of the trauma he faced and overcame.

“I plan to live as long as possible. I have dreams to enjoy my grandchildren and I always say, life is not a bed of roses. You will meet obstacles along the way. This was an obstacle in life that I bounced up and thankfully with God’s grace, I was able to overcome. I will continue to be in the business world. This is what keeps my heart pumping but I will find healthy ways to de-stress,” he said.

Manocha said it mattered not how much money and possessions one accumulated.

“My perspective on life has changed. Your wealth is your health. Without health you cannot enjoy anything, not even the air or the simple things in life,” he added.

The young businessman encouraged citizens to have faith in the local doctors.

He also said people must encourage one another to exercise regularly, eat healthily and live peaceably with love and kindness.