During the season 18 premiere of The Biggest Loser, which returned to USA Network after a four-year hiatus on January 28, host and former trainer Bob Harper sat down with the contestants and talked with them about their mental struggles that might be holding them back from losing weight. He brought up a time in his life “when fear absolutely consumed [him]” — when he had a heart attack back in February 2017.
Here’s what you need to know about Bob Harper’s heart attack.
Harper’s Heart Attack Was A Sudden, Shocking Event and He Doesn’t Remember Any of It
Harper tells The Biggest Loser that all he remembers is “waking up in a hospital” having “just come out of a coma” and being told that he collapsed mid-workout in the gym.
AARP reports that he had what is often called “the widow-maker heart attack” because his left anterior descending artery became blocked and that kind of heart attack is often fatal. Luckily for Harper, a doctor was at the gym and performed CPR until the paramedics arrived.
Harper had to be shocked with chest paddles three times and then was put into a medically induced coma to allow his heart time to rest and heal.
“Any regular person wouldn’t have recovered. Bob’s superior physical condition saved his life more than anything else,” explained cardiologist, Warren J. Wexelman, M.D., a clinical instructor in the Department of Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.
Harper Has a Hereditary Disorder That Caused His Heart Attack
One year after his brush with death, Harper told Today that it turned out he has a hereditary disorder involving high levels of lipoprotein in his blood, which can contribute to plaque in the arteries and can increase the risk of a heart attack.
He also found out that after having his first heart attack, he was “more likely to have another within a year,” so he was willing to do whatever it took to try to prevent that from happening.
“My exercises have had to change completely. I do a lot more yoga. But what I’m really doing now is not relying on those high-intensity workouts anymore. On days I don’t work out, I don’t get stressed,” said Harper.
He Wants The Biggest Loser Contestants To Realize That Fear Cannot Control Their Lives
When he was announced as the host for the revamped Biggest Loser, Harper said he can’t wait to help a new batch of contestants start living their best lives.
“I’ve learned a lot over the last two years since suffering a heart attack,” said Harper. “I know more than ever that it’s about overall health and living your absolute best life inside and out, plus finding ways to overcome the everyday obstacles that we all face. That is what we are doing with the show. We are going to be changing lives and it is going to be big. I cannot wait to get started!”
Then during the premiere, he told the contestants how fearful he was after his heart attack, but he did not let the fear take over his life.
“When I woke up in the hospital, I felt really embarrassed and I was consumed with fear. I was so afraid … I used to be doing crazy Olympic lifting workouts and now I couldn’t walk around the block because it was just too hard,” Harper tells them in the premiere episode. “When I finally, after almost a year, got cleared to go into a gym, I was petrified of being in that gym. I would have panic attacks when my heart rate would go up. It was a really tough time for me, but I moved forward and I did not let the fear consume me. We all have reasonable fears, you have a right to feel afraid. But now it’s time to face those fears.”
Can the Biggest Loser contestants conquer their fears and start down the road to a healthier lifestyle? Tune in Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the USA Network to find out.