Heart surgeon does it all

Dr. Mark Dedomenico at his office at the Pro Sports Club in Bellevue. - Nat Levy, Bellevue Reporter
Dr. Mark Dedomenico at his office at the Pro Sports Club in Bellevue.
— image credit: Nat Levy, Bellevue Reporter

Dr. Mark Dedomenico never slows down.

Many might think that after being one of the inventors of coronary bypass surgery he would rest on his laurels, take it a little easy.

But that’s not how Dr. Dedomenico works. Not only was he passionate about fixing the human heart and body, but also he wanted to understand and root out the reasons people ended up on his operating table.

So, 21 years ago he began to focus on diet and exercise with the 20/20 Lifestyles program, which focuses on teaching participants how to control eating habits and start workout regiments to lose weight and keep it off.

Dedomenico also briefly helped run the family business, Golden Grain, which makes pasta products, before selling the business for more than $250 million to Quaker Oats. And he runs a rehabilitation facility for race horses in Redmond. What keeps Dedomenico moving all the time?

“It isn’t what you did yesterday, it’s what you’re going to do tomorrow,” he said.

Be that as it may, Dedomenico’s yesterday should not be forgotten.

He started early, scrubbing in with his father on his first surgery at age 15. Later, after graduating college he was drafted to serve as a medic in Vietnam. There he discovered the trick that would lead to the invention of the cardiac bypass. This work was motivated by Dedomenico’s desire to be more than just a cog in the medical machine, but to do something that could help thousands, if not millions of people.

This same motivation pushed him toward founding the 20/20 program. Furthermore, he witnessed the rise in healthcare costs, and wanted to find a way that people could manage themselves with the assistance of several different medications.

“The only way we are going to get the cost of medicine under control is to reverse diseases where we can,” he said.

The program runs between eight and 12 weeks for weight loss, with another 20 weeks to help people learn to keep it off The program costs $8,000 for the shorter version and $10,000 for the 12 week-program. Participants have sessions with trainers and dietitians to make them feel comfortable and educated about their weight loss process.

The program has evolved greatly over the years, as more information about food came out. Dedomenico said when he was running Golden Grain, he felt pasta was pretty healthy. Later on, he learned he was wrong.

The prescribed diet has shifted to focus less on carbohydrates and more on protein.

The 20/20 program has undertaken hundreds of cases, but few stand out as much as those of Parul and Leslie Bhargava. Both came in a little more than a year ago at more than 300 pounds. Leslie experienced progress immediately, but Parul, an employee at Microsoft, had a tough time with the combination of stress, the availability of unhealthy food, and anxiety over exercise.

“Relearning how to eat and make healthy choices is tough, especially when you’re surrounded by mostly unhealthy options because we are all busy,” Parul said.

At just 36, Parul was diagnosed with hypertension, and a history of heart disease in his family made him realize what he had to do. He hit a wall initially, but after the 32-week program was complete, he was training for a marathon.

Now both under 200 pounds, Parul and Leslie still see their trainers regularly. Parul has completed one marathon and is training for another.

“Before I couldn’t even run, and now I am running marathons,” he said.

Mark Dedomenico not only stepped in to help run the family business, Golden Grain, but he was also featured in the company's advertising campaign. NAT LEVY, Bellevue Reporter

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