While it’s surgery or medical intervention that may save a heart patient’s life, cardiac rehab saves their quality of life.
“We see people up to . . . from two weeks to up to almost a year after their event. So it depends on how big of an event they had and how quickly their doctor refers them,” says Alexis Collins, a registered nurse with Lee Memorial Health System.
For three months health professionals will put heart patients through the paces. A mix of medically supervised exercise classes and solo workouts, each patient wears a heart monitor.
“They put on the monitor so one of us is always watching them, then they can do the treadmill, walking, Airdyne biking, rowing, the elliptical machine, the stair master and so on,” says Collins.
Along with coaching and goals, patients also get education- taking aim at many of the very issues that broke their hearts. They learn how to better manage diet, blood pressure even quit smoking. It’s crash course in cardiovascular health and it’s making a difference.
“They see it, we see it. We watch them get stronger. Their heart actually benefits from the program itself. A lot of times, too, depression is not uncommon after a cardiac event, so we actually see progression in mental stability too,” says Collins.
George Hays works with the program, but he was also a patient after undergoing a stenting procedure to open a severely blocked artery.
“Now I can empathize with people. Before I could only sympathize. They always have that thing where ‘you never went through this so you don’t know’ yes I have,” says Hays.
The result is a change of heart- that keeps people up and running.