The week of Feb. 10–16 is National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week. Most friendships between Lake Regional Cardiac Rehab patients begin the same way — with a swapping of “What brought you in here?” tales. Every cardiac rehab patient has a serious cardiovascular event to recount, from a dramatic heart attack to a heart attack avoided thanks to early action.
David Miller, a local business owner, is thankful his story belongs in the second group.
Miller’s first sign of trouble was a burning in his chest. At first, he just noticed it when he exerted himself, like when climbing stairs, so he didn’t think much of it. But then it hit during a casual walk with his wife, Annette, on vacation in Mexico.
“I’ve always been fairly healthy my whole life,” said Miller, 65. “I knew something was wrong.”
Testing back home revealed two major blockages in his right coronary artery. Left untreated, the blockages could lead to a heart attack. Lake Regional Cardiologist Zubair Khan, M.D., FACC, placed a stent to reopen the artery and restore blood flow. That took care of the immediate danger, but Miller wanted to do more. He was grateful Dr. Khan ordered 12 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation.
“Cardiac rehab helps people who have faced a serious cardiovascular event reduce their risk for future heart problems,” said Jody Corpe, E.P., M.S., director of Lake Regional Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation. “Many of our patients who complete the program report feeling better than they did before their heart attack or heart surgery.”
Cardiac rehabilitation includes a structured exercise plan, along with medical supervision. As patients exercise, nurses continuously monitor their heart rate and blood pressure. A doctor reviews the patient’s performance and adjusts the plan as needed. In addition, all patients get tips for eating better and managing stress, and smokers receive support to stop smoking.
For Miller, the medical supervision was a big draw.
“There’s a gym in my neighborhood, and it’s included in my association fees, but I like to come here because they monitor my blood pressure and heart rate,” he said at the start of one visit. “At first, that was what was most important to me. I thought, ‘If something happens, I’ll have help.’ But now, it’s just a habit. I enjoy coming here. It’s one of the best parts of my day.”
After completing his prescribed 12 weeks, Miller chose to continue in the supervised maintenance exercise program. Now two years after his heart surgery, he’s still at the cardiac rehab gym every weekday morning. He’s lost around 20 pounds and feels healthy and fit.
“I can tell a change,” he said. “I feel more confident about my health. I have learned how to better manage stress and to eat a healthier diet, and the exercise has improved my balance and stamina.”
Miller plans to continue his exercise routine and only wishes he had started it earlier.
“I always told myself I was too busy, but it’s something people need to do,” he said. “I’m trying to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can, and this makes me stronger.”
Lake Regional’s cardiopulmonary program is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. The program has three phases. Phase I, II and III services are available at Lake Regional Hospital in Osage Beach. Phase II and III services also are available at Lake Regional’s Cardiac Rehab clinics in Eldon and Laurie, and Phase III services are available at a Lake Regional’s Camdenton and Lake Ozark clinics.