Diagnosis: Artery blockage
Treatment: Cardiac Rehab
After a heart attack, the thought of returning to exercise and physical activity is daunting.
That’s how Woodinville resident Ted Perry—who’d been used to an active Northwest lifestyle—says he felt after he suffered a mild heart attack
It was the night before Ted was planning to leave on a trip to Montana when he felt an ache toward the back of his jaw—a sensation unlike anything he’d ever felt before, but one he knew should be taken seriously.
It turned out that despite his good physical condition, Ted had a previously undetected severe artery blockage that caused his symptoms to appear suddenly.
His doctors at EvergreenHealth Heart Care recommended a stenting procedure to clear the blockage, and after just two nights in the hospital, Ted was back at home.
He was thankful his heart attack hadn’t been worse, but uncertain what the future might hold.
WHEN CAN I BE ACTIVE AGAIN?
“I was especially anxious about returning to exercise and wasn’t confident in starting to be active again,” Ted recalls.
It was an unfamiliar role for this avid golfer, fly fisherman, hiker and sailor.
Ted’s care team referred him to EvergreenHealth Heart & Vascular Wellness Services, which offers rehabilitation programs for all patients recovering from cardiac events. I
t’s where specialists with expertise in cardiology, exercise physiology, nutrition and pharmacology come together to offer personalized exercise, counseling, education and lifestyle-change resources designed to improve cardiac health and overall wellness.
Most notably, it’s a place where patients can find a community of people who understand their challenges and who work side by side to overcome barriers that are both physical and emotional.
“Patients come to us as individuals and often leave as part of a greater heart community,” explains Jeff Roberts, manager of EvergreenHealth Heart & Vascular Wellness Services.
“There’s a healthy synergy among patients supporting each other and between the providers who work one-on-one with them to reach their goals.”
Ted was paired with a registered nurse case manager, who worked with him to establish his exercse thresholds based on his heart-rate targets and the level of activity Ted hoped to achieve.
“That’s the benefit it gave me,” Ted adds. “The workouts were closely monitored so we could see exactly what was happening with my heart. It gave me a lot of security when doing some fairly strenuous activity.”
EXERCISE + CAMARADERIE
Beyond the regular exercise sessions, Ted took advantage of educational classes that aim to help participants navigate lifestyle changes and lower their risk factors.
“I learned that even at 57, I wasn’t the youngest person in the program and my heart attack wasn’t the most severe. The camaraderie you build with others going through the same experience really helps. Everyone is in it together,” Ted says.
But EvergreenHealth’s program and others like it across the country have proven to be more than just emotionally beneficial.
“Patients who go through a cardiac rehabilitation program are generally among those with lower mortality rates,” Roberts adds.
As for Ted Perry, though he’s successfully completed his personalized 12-week rehabilitation program, he says the benefits—in the form of both the friendships and the knowledge he’s gained—continue to make an impact.
He even plans to teach a fellow participant how to sail.