Diagnosis: Cardiac Bypass
Treatment: Surgery and Cardiac Rehab
As far as Ed Jurvainen is concerned, there’s no looking back. Following a cardiac bypass, he joined EvergreenHealth’s cardiac rehab program and hasn’t slowed down since.
“If I’d tried to make it on my own,” he says, “I wouldn’t have succeeded.”
EvergreenHealth’s rehab program stresses exercise and education to help patients recovering from a cardiac event lead a heart-healthier life. They enroll shortly after they’re discharged from the hospital.
The program meets three days a week for 75 minutes each day. Patients usually participate between four to 12 weeks, depending on their progress and health status.
Each patient is assigned a case manager who partners with their physician to design an individualized program based on specific needs.
In addition to the formal exercise class, patients benefit from discussions of a variety of educational topics, including stress management, dealing with the emotional effects of recovery, heart disease risk factors, lifestyle changes and nutrition.
“We run a clinic promoting wellness,” says Jeff Roberts, manager of EvergreenHealth’s Cardiac Health Center. “We help people move forward. We say ‘Let’s take it from here and improve the quality of your life.’”
Ed started exercising slowly, working on the stationary bicycle and treadmill before moving on to weight machines.
Like everyone in his class of 10, he benefited from the expertise of a cadre of professionals – RNs, exercise physiologists, a nutritionist, a pharmacist and a mental health counselor – who helped make sure he was on the path to recovery.
“Having a bypass, you’re scared before and after and don’t know what to expect,” Jurvainen says. “EvergreenHealth teaches nutrition, exercise and gets you on a program. Anybody who goes through a major cardiac event should do a cardiac rehab program.”
Roberts agrees. “Our program and research show that people in cardiac rehab programs experience improvement in quality of life and well-being,” he says. In fact, the comprehensive rehab program is a key component in EvergreenHealth’s being named one of the nation’s top twenty hospitals for heart attack survival rates by the U.S. government.
Roberts likes to point out another advantage of rehab. “There’s a lot of camaraderie. It’s an inviting place for patients to share their feelings and fears and feel a part of a group. New patients can be reassured by the veterans. It’s a big part of their emotional healing, and we see less depression in our patients.”
The lifestyle and exercise changes Ed Jurvainen adopted in cardiac rehab have stuck. After finishing the EvergreenHealth program, he joined a gym, where he works out five days a week, tallying four to six miles on the bike or elliptical machine.
Now 30 pounds lighter, he says, “I have to exercise. It’s like a good addiction. I don’t feel good if I don’t do it.”