HELENA – Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton is working his way through recovery after experiencing a heart attack near Livingston on Nov. 28.

“This is a matter of life and death,” said Dutton. “So, the choice is mine. I just gotta make the right one.”

Dutton is taking his recovery one step at a time.

“I want to be in better shape than I was before I got my stent.”

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Just two weeks after experiencing a widowmaker heart attack, Dutton started working half-days at the sheriff’s office Monday while preparing for cardiac rehabilitation later this month.

“Right now I try to do one lap, just at a moderate pace around Centennial Park,” said Dutton. “Sometimes I feel really good like I’d like to go faster but believe it or not I’m listening to the Doctor about not doing that.”

His rehab includes an exercise plan and a nutritional makeover, “to meet those goals of losing weight, eating better and being in better shape.”

His recovery also includes a new outlook on life. He says now he’s thankful for things he never thought of before.

“Say thanks to just simple things we may take for granted. I’m able to walk on a nice paved path that I didn’t have to build and I didn’t have to clean it,” said Dutton. “Have every day as a Thanksgiving. I don’t think I’ll ever lose that.”

Dutton hopes his recovery will include the creation of heart-healthy programs for First Responders who undergo high stress, lack of sleep and poor nutrition while on the job.

“When you’re in public safety you tend to eat when you get a chance. And that carries over to your daily activities when you’re not on duty.”

Dutton said his recovery journey is something that’s up to him to accomplish.

“If I can change in my fast-paced job, I’m hoping that you can too.”

Dutton said he continues to be thankful for the support of the community, his coworkers and his family.