Patient Finds Fitness Following Heart Surgery

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Dan DiSalvo took an interest in strength training and exercise after heart surgery.At 88 years old, dialysis patient Dan DiSalvo is uniquely strong and fit, hitting the gym several days a week and performing 20 pull-ups at a time. He credits a quadruple heart bypass operation 18 years ago as the catalyst for his late-in-life physical fitness regimen.

“I tell everyone that my heart issues turned my life around,” DiSalvo said.

Indeed, after his heart operation, DiSalvo’s cardio rehab appointments sparked an interest in exercise and strength training. Soon, he and a few other “old guys” turned their workouts into a social activity.

“Working out has been great for me,” he said. “I have a lot more energy and flexibility and I think it helps keep me sharp mentally too.”

“They say the more you run a machine the sooner it breaks down, but with your body, the more you use it the stronger it gets,” he said.

Three years ago, an autoimmune disorder led to kidney failure and DiSalvo began dialysis at Fresenius Kidney Care’s East Louisville (Ky.) clinic. After taking off some time during the transition, he eventually returned to the gym.

“I’ve been very blessed in my life,” he said. “I’ve got a very positive attitude nearly all the time and that makes all the difference.”

Recently, a YouTube video of DiSalvo doing pull-ups at his fitness center led to an interview on a popular Louisville TV program, Great Day Live, making him a local celebrity.

“The TV show was great, but I made sure they didn’t sign off before I could get in a good word about how great they are at my clinic,” he said.

“I know all the people on Chris Brown’s team,” DiSalvo said in reference to the East Louisville Clinical Manager. “They’re all so positive and they keep me motivated and lighthearted.”

As we recognize American Heart Month in February, it’s important to understand the close link between the kidneys and the heart. A growing body of research has documented the way kidney disease can trigger or worsen heart disease and how heart disease can destroy the kidneys. Learn more about the relationship in “A Cardiorenal Approach: The Close Link Between Kidney Disease and Heart Disease.”