SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Even if you don't look big and are not obese, a lot of belly could mean a stroke or heart attack is in your future.
That's because what you look like on the outside can tell a lot about what's going on inside your body.
73-year-old Tom DeVries never misses cardiac rehab at the Avera Heart Hospital. Three days a week, he's on these machines, burning calorie after calorie.
He's here because 14 months ago doctors told him he had congestive heart failure. And most recently, he's had stints placed in his arteries.
“They also told me that I had hypertension and obesity. I hate that word, obesity,” DeVries said.
Just over a year ago, DeVries weighed nearly 350 pounds.
"This morning, I weighed 251 pounds. I've lost 92 pounds," DeVries said.
It's weight that had to come off and it saved his life.
“I can't tell you how good I feel,” DeVries said.
“Heart disease takes years to develop. And many individuals walk around with risks they don't know that they have,” North Central Heart Cardiologist Dr. Tarek Mahrous said.
Those risks include things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high glucose levels and large waistlines. They're all symptoms of something called metabolic syndrome
“It's a tool for physicians to look at the overall picture to say your risk is increased, to help us assess whether or not you need more aggressive prevention,” Mahrous said.
It's a condition a lot of people don't even know they have. In fact, even those who aren't considered obese but have what's called a "spare tire" are at risk.
“Well, I knew I was that fat, you know? I thought I'd die that way; I didn't think I'd be this way,” DeVries said.
But DeVries is glad this is his reality, counting calories and all.
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