I can still hear my doctor’s voice clearly: “Barb, you’re having a heart attack – go to the ER. Now!” A call like that one is the last thing I expected. But, if you’ve never had a heart attack, who actually expects one?!
Four months later, that day is still vivid however not nearly as scary because doing whatever it takes to make sure a heart attack doesn’t happen again has become a daily part of my life…I’ve stopped smoking, am eating smarter and started exercising regularly. My doctor recommended guided exercise through a cardiac rehabilitation center.
I chose the cardiac rehab program at St. Mary’s Hospital, and it was a great choice for me! My class met each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with several morning and afternoon time slots offered. It was a small group with 14 classmates, men and women, ages 32-89 all with some form of heart disease. On my first day, I met with an RN and an exercise physiologist who helped me develop a regimen that would best meet my needs. The physiologist became my personal instructor/advisor for the duration of the program.
Our class was supervised by a team of six professionals, including two RNs and four physiologists. They worked with us to determine an individualized program of exercise, helping us select the most beneficial equipment, time allocations, and intensity of workouts while monitoring our heart rate and blood pressure before, during and after the aerobic activities. Our 45-minute class would end with a cool down session, lead by one member of the team, that emphasized weight lifting sets and stretching exercises. The class was a great way to start the day, and I looked forward to it.
Shortly before exercising on Wednesdays, the class met to hear presentations about topics important to heart patients – medications, stress reduction techniques, good nutrition tips and guidelines, heart and vascular anatomy and other subjects with plenty of time for questions and answers. This educational component was interesting and it also became an information exchange and discussion forum among classmates. Sharing our unique experiences was therapeutic!
By the time my 20-session class was completed, I’d become friendly with many of the cardiac cohorts. In fact, it was such a positive experience, I’m continuing on with St. Mary’s cardiac maintenance program. For a nominal fee, I can use the facility and equipment Monday through Friday. (And, it’s nice to know the people who run the place!)
All and all, I’d give the facility, its staff, and the program they’ve developed an excellent, 4 ½ star rating. Exercising with caring professionals as well as other cardiac patients made for an entertaining, healthy and fun experience.
Return to the Cardiac Rehabilitation landing page.