Health Team

After heart attack, Durham lawyer comes to defense of his own heart

Posted September 25, 2015 4:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 25, 2015 5:34 p.m. EDT

— Until three years ago, 58-year-old criminal defense lawyer Steve Motta never spent much time thinking about his heart.

That was before he showed up for work in Durham and left the courthouse in an ambulance. Motta says the stress of finding work-life balance contributed to his life-threatening emergency.

"I just felt dizzy. I was sweating a lot. I felt nauseous, and I did have mild pain in my chest," Motta said, remembering his heart-attack symptoms.

Doctors found a small blockage in one of Motta's heart arteries. The clot was too small for a stent and too small to retrieve.

"It was very surprising to hear the words, 'You've had a heart attack' from a cardiologist," Mott said. "I didn't expect that at all."

Motta wasn't overweight or diabetic prior to his heart issues, and his blood pressure and cholesterol numbers were normal.

"My job being the way it is, it's pretty stressful," he said.

Motta said his schedule and other demands forced him to eat on the run often.

"I don't go to fast food anymore," he said. "I haven't had a hamburger for more than two years."

Motta also made exercise a priority.

"If you can exercise 45 minutes to an hour, three times a week, you're well on your way," he said. "It serves two purposes: it relieves stress and helps your heart."

Motta and others will take part Sunday in the annual Triangle Heart Walk at PNC Arena. The walk is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.