Repairing the Heart with Rehab

When someone suffers a heart attack or other cardiac event, a critical part of healing is rehab.

At Rockville General Hospital, cardiac rehab classes are held three times a week and they’re well attended.

Carrie Gamer, 89, of Ellington, is a regular.  "You have more confidence when you come here.  If anything's going to happen to you you're right here," she said.

Carrie suffered congestive heart failure five years ago.  You would never know, as she pumps away on the stationary bike.

"I feel great.  Yeah.  This helps coming here and doing this rehab."

Part of the rehab is teaching people how to take care of themselves.  "First and foremost, we want to exercise the heart muscle. Recondition it.  Get it stronger again," said Laura Johnson, Rockville’s manager of cardiac and pulmonary rehab.

In addition to exercise, the classes also offer education.

"We learn a lot about how to take care of ourselves.  How to modify risk factors.  Controlling blood pressure, controlling cholesterol.  Managing diabetes if that's a problem.  Perhaps losing some weight,” Johnson said.

It's made a big difference to Clark Robertson of Ellington.

He's suffered two heart attacks and afterwards physical activity was a big challenge.

"I could last an hour before.  I would feel exhausted and I’d have to double that time in complete rest," he said.

Learning from others in the class is another benefit.

"The camaraderie part is very important I think because we're all in this boat together," Robertson said.

Now they're improving together.

"A lot of people will consider it their second birthday when they start the cardiac rehab program after their cardiac event.  It's like their new lease on life," Johnson said.

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