How Having A Heart Attack Changed Jim Lehrer’s Life

Autobiography essay #2

For my English I have been reading the autobiography of Jim Lehrer who is a TV interviewer and an author. At the age of 49 Lehrer suffered a heart attack. He was in the


Jim Lehrer (pictured), anchor and executive editor of THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER

hospital when he had it and he survived. It was a turning point in his life and because of the heart attack he made many positive changes in his life.

After his heart attack he made four lists; a healthy living list, life priorities list, a stress list, and a bus signs to collect list. Lehrer was very interested in buses (his father had owned a bus line when he was a kid) and he collected bus memorabilia all his life. Before the heart attack Lehrer had been an avid smoker and had the eating habits, in his own words,”of a pimply faced fifteen year old”. After his heart attack he finally quit smoking forever and changed to a much healthier diet. His life priorities list was short and to the point; love, relax, and write. He had written one successful novel, Viva Max, before his heart attack but had since not made much time for writing. When he asked himself what he would want to do if he had only five years to live write fiction was at the top of the list. As of now he has at least 19 published novels, he would not have written these novels if It was not for the change that  the heart attack made on his life. The last list he made was his stress list were he put down the stuff that caused him stress, such as making speeches, going to parties, and listening to “whining grownups.” He made it a goal to reduce the stress in his life.

He started back at work after one of his colleges said to him “we need you.”Lehrer said that it helped him to hear that he was needed. He started work gradually at first just phoning in at morning meetings and eventually getting back on national television. He started a new routine were he took a nap every afternoon and never ate lunch outside of his office. The heart attack caused him to be aware of his own mortality and the fact that he might have another one. From then on Lehrer always had a plan to get to the hospital as fast as possible no matter where he was.

When he returned to work he did what he said in his autobiography was his greatest professional accomplishment. He created a documentary on heart attacks. It was titled MY Heart Your Heart and it told the story of his heart attack and what to do to reduce the chance having a heart attack. The documentary saved lives and caused many people to make changes in their life.

Even though going through the heart attack was a horrible experience, some good things did come out of it. He quit smoking and his other bad habits, he started writing again, and he did My Heart Your Heart which helped many people.


One thought on “How Having A Heart Attack Changed Jim Lehrer’s Life

  1. I really enjoyed your essay. I like that you introduced the subject and gave your reader a bit of background information before proceeding. Not everyone reading your essay will be ‘in the know’. Giving that background information allows more people to enjoy your work. Great job!


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