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Patients put hearts into working out

Staff writer

Since May 1, some patients with heart problems at St. Luke Hospital have been going through cardiac rehabilitation training.

Ruth Viets had surgery to clear plaque from her arteries. She had also recently fallen and broken her arm before she started cardiac training.

After she graduated from the program — 12 weeks of working out three days per week — she has regained her balance and confidence in walking. She also said she can breathe easier and has lost a little bit of weight.

Dean Bina had two stents put into one of his arteries. He said that he felt “pretty good” when he went into the program but felt even better when he came out.

Bina said that he has been physically active his whole life, but pushed himself to work hard during the program. He said he put himself through daily workouts before and after he went through cardiac rehabilitation.

Viets was on the opposite end of the spectrum. She said she was hesitant to go into the program when she heard about it because she didn’t know if she could keep up. However, her doctor recommended it and she tried it out.

“For the patients, sometimes it’s just getting over that hump,” Lorie Garrett, St. Luke’s Cardiac Rehabilitator, said. “That’s what I’m here for.”

Garrett said that patients can be in any physical shape when they begin. She said that patients should not be discouraged by physical activity; each patient can have the intensity of their workout tuned to their own level of conditioning.

“It doesn’t matter how out of shape you are,” Garrett said. “If you can do something, we will find out that thing and start from there.”

The program mixes a different forms of exercise into its routine. St. Luke has two main pieces of equipment at its disposal: a treadmill and a recmbant bike. Each machine allows patients to raise their heart rates while Garrett closely monitors their heart activity.

Stretching and lifting weights are also part of every patient’s regimen.

Viets said that she would walk on the treadmill for two miles, while Garrett told her what other exercises she could do on her own. Viets’ favorite exercise was riding the bike where she could work her upper and lower body at the same time, rotating the pedals and handles in unison.

“Lorrie was real articulate to tell what you were doing and why you were doing it,” Viets said.

Other activities that Viets participated in were the vinyl pull — stretching a piece of vinyl as far as she could — and other leg and foot exercises.

Garrett also said that she passes along nutritional information to her pupils. She said that patients can generally have most of the foods they enjoy, but it is the amount and preparation of the food that they must modify.

Viets and Bina have both kept up with physical activity after graduating from the program.

Viets said that she continues to do some of the exercises at St. Luke Living Center.

Garrett said that sometimes it is difficult for former patients to keep exercising. She makes sure to give each graduate an illustrated booklet of exercises and she says that she is available to talk to if graduates get “stuck.”

“With exercise you have to vary some things a little bit,” Garrett said. “So you don’t get bored.”

Viets advises everyone with heart problems to find out if they are healthy enough for the program. She recommends it wholeheartedly, but she does warn that it is still a workout.

“I’m glad it’s over,” she said.

Last modified Oct. 15, 2009

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