Sione Feki is feeling better than he has in years.
‘I have more energy and more resilience to stress because I’m healthier,’ says Sione Feki, a Pacific Health portfolio manager for Auckland and Waitemata DHB.
The 40-year-old Tongan’s major goal in life is to be around to see his grandchildren grow up. He never met 3 of his grandparents who died prematurely. His dad died at 50 years and his mum at 70.
Yet it wasn’t until he had a cardiovascular disease (CVD) assessment in 2012 that Sione realised how close he was to becoming another family statistic.
‘My chance of having heart problems was moderate to high and my blood pressure and bad cholesterol were all too high, which meant I was heading for a stroke or heart attack.’
So Sione made some lifestyle changes. He cut back on meat, ate more fruit and vegetables and less sugar, biscuits and other carbohydrates. He also tried to exercise regularly.
‘I really missed that food to start with but somehow the thought of being on medication and not living very long was enough of an incentive to keep focused and watch what I eat. I don’t miss things much at all now.’
However, after moving to Auckland last year, Sione got a bit distracted while settling into his new job. He wasn’t getting regular CVD checks, nor had he signed up with a GP. So when his line manager suggested he attend the ADHB CVD assessment, he was keen.
The assessment showed his chances of having a heart attack risk had reduced significantly. He’d lost 10–15 kg and his blood sugar levels were good. However, his bad (LDL or low density lipoprotein) cholesterol level was still too high.
‘What I really liked about the ADHB check was that we had a half-hour appointment, which was great because they didn’t just do the tests and push me out. We had a really good chat and I got a lot of information. The personal attention was very culturally appropriate for Pasifika.’
Sione discussed different ideas about exercising with the nurse to help lower his bad cholesterol level and has started putting those ideas into action. He exercises 3 times a week and is trying to make a habit of taking the 8 flights of stairs to his office instead of using the lift.
‘Fitting exercise into the day is the hardest part. If I miss out on a walk, I’ll try and park my car 15 minutes away from work and walk there and back. When I started walking I could only walk 3 km but now I can walk 10 km.’
At his team’s fortnightly meeting, his line manager, Lita Foliaki, has instigated sharing of individual wellness plans to help keep everyone on track.
Sione has also been asked by the Pasifika Health general manager, Bruce Levi, to develop a wellness workplace project, and Sione wants CVD assessments to be a key part of that.
‘I would like to increase the number of Pasifika participants. I think it’s a fantastic service for the ADHB to offer staff, especially Pasifika staff who are at high risk at an earlier age.’
This story is part of Auckland DHB – staff assessments for cardiovascular disease.
Read the next story in this series: Mike Elliott.