There I was — 60 years old with a brand new grandchild and looking forward to retirement in the near future. My family and I were on a much anticipated family vacation when I started feeling ill. A bad case of indigestion, I thought. As it increased in intensity, I sought medical attention. The knowledgeable emergency department staff did a full exam and determined — yes, you guessed it — I was having a heart attack.
In the days following my heart attack, I tried to make sense of everything that had happened to me in the preceding days. What would my new life look like? New diet, new medication regimens and stress management — I was overwhelmed. It seemed as though I’d never make sense of this life disruption.
Right before my discharge, a clinical exercise physiologist came and discussed an important piece of my long-term health – cardiac rehabilitation. He explained that in this life-saving program, I would be given the tools to make several positive lifestyle modifications including regular exercise, nutrition and stress management. Making the decision to attend a cardiac rehabilitation program would prove to be a critical piece in enjoying the new season of my life.
Though the above narrative is fictional, it’s very similar to the stories of heart attack survivors all around the nation. Fortunately for Robeson (and surrounding) county residents, Southeastern Health’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation department offers several programs designed to improve the health and quality of life of those with heart disease, lung disease and for those who are at risk. Below is a description of the quality programs that Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation offers:
— Cardiac Rehabilitation: Cardiac rehabilitation is a program that focuses on lifestyle modification for those with heart disease. This insurance-reimbursed program meets three times per week for 12 weeks at specific class times. During the twelve weeks, participants receive supervised exercise training, nutrition counseling and education from a multidisciplinary team.
— Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Similar to cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation is an insurance-reimbursed program designed to improve shortness of breath and improve the daily life of those living with pulmonary disease. Participants will receive individualized exercise training and education tailored to the needs of pulmonary patients. This program also meets three times per week for 12 weeks at a specific class time.
— Health Strides: Originally designed for those who have completed the cardiac and pulmonary rehab programs, Health Strides is a supervised exercise program for those patients who require supervision from a team of highly trained health care professionals. This program is open to those with heart disease, lung disease and those who have risk factors associated with heart disease like hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obesity and diabetes. It meets three times weekly at designated class times and is $40 a month.
— Medical Exercise Referral Program: This program is the first of our “pre-hab” programs. While cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation are designed for those already diagnosed with heart and lung disease, the Medical Exercise Referral Program is specifically for those with risk factors for heart disease. For $30 a month, participants receive a consultation, three fitness assessments and monthly exercise sessions with a clinical exercise physiologist. As a part of this program, participants will have full access to Southeastern Lifestyle Center, a medically based fitness center. During the times not supervised by a clinical exercise physiologist, participants will be given individualized exercise prescriptions designed to reduce their specific risk factors for heart disease.
Southeastern Health’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation department exists to target the lifestyle modifications necessary to lead healthy and productive lives. Each program is individualized to meet the exact needs of each patient. Patients must be referred to each of the above programs. For information, contact Ash Walker at 910-738-5403.
Candace Langston, MS, RCEP, CEP, CCRP is a clinical exercise physiologist for Southeastern Health. She can be reached at (910) 738-5403 or [email protected]