By: Steve Starger, patient in the Cardiac Maintenance Program, Care New England Wellness Center
I didn’t have any concerns or complaints about my heart when I went to my primary care doctor for a physical last year, but the doctor heard something he didn’t like when he listened to my heartbeat.
The doctor did a quick electrocardiogram (EKG) exam to test the electrical activity in my heart and sent me right to a cardiologist for a more in-depth examination. That began, at the age of 73, what I call my “odyssey.”
The cardiologist found that my left ventricle was operating at just 30 percent! He then sent me to have a defibrillator implanted and for an angioplasty that uncovered three clogged arteries in my heart. I was given stents to open the arteries.
After all of the tests and surgeries, I came to the Care New England Wellness Center to start cardiac maintenance. It’s offered for two-hour sessions five days a week under the supervision of Stacie McCarthy, a clinical exercise physiologist, and it’s now part of my long-term heart-healthy lifestyle. It’s really working, too. The doctor has been able to take me off a few of my medications, and my cardio-pulmonary function has improved significantly.
Stacie helps participants like me use the cardio and weight training equipment in the medical fitness program, checking blood pressure and heart rate during the sessions and before sending them home. At first, she has us exercise on cardiac telemetry, a machine that helps her monitor the effect the workout is having on our hearts. She can send the information from the monitors to our doctors if needed.
A Note from Stacie McCarthy
The consistency and supervision of the cardiac wellness program is good for people who have had a cardiac incident or are trying to stay heart healthy. By attending three or more times a week, it helps the participants meet the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise suggested by the Centers for Disease control’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
In addition, the American College of Sports Medicine reports that cardiac patients who exercise often report:
- Increased self-confidence, especially in performing physical tasks.
- An improved sense of well-being.
- Less depression, stress, anxiety, and social isolation.