Cardiac Rehabilitation Offers Heart Patients Hope and Healing
Following a heart attack, some patients fear they will never again be active and healthy.
Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehab Coordinator Sara Holloway-Smith helps alleviate those fears, but she doesn’t do it alone. Fellow cardiac rehab patients encourage the newcomers as well.
“When they see someone who’s been with us for 20 or 30 sessions, and they’re walking fast on a treadmill with a 3 or 4 percent incline, it gives someone who’s just getting started hope and reassurance that they’re going to be OK,” Holloway-Smith says.
Each week, the Wilson-Epstein Center for Diagnostic and Rehabilitative Services at Baptist Beaches hosts between 100 and 120 cardiac rehabilitation patient visits.
“Most cardiac patients don’t want to frighten their spouse or children, so they don’t share their anxieties and fears with them,” Holloway-Smith says. “But in this setting, it’s very safe. Everybody’s been through a similar experience.”
Dealing with the emotional ups and downs of recovery is one of the topics addressed in the cardiac rehab process. Physicians, dietitians, exercise specialists and psychologists all work together to provide patients information about heart health, physical fitness, nutrition and stress management.
Building Endurance and Lifelong Friendships
Since cardiac rehab exercise classes are scheduled, patients find themselves with the same group of people three days a week for up to 12 weeks. Oftentimes, a strong bond develops among the participants.
As patients get stronger, they are released from outpatient cardiac rehab and encouraged to continue exercise programs at home or at a fitness center. Many, however, take advantage of the ongoing cardiac rehab services available at Baptist Beaches.
So strong is the bond among this elite group, the patients continue to meet for special events long after they have been