Cardiac Rehabilitation at Howard County General Hospital


My name is David Jackson. I’m a
cardiologist here in Columbia. I’m the director of the Cardiac Rehab
program here at Howard County General Hospital. I’m Preeti Benjamin. I’m the manager of
Howard County General’s Cardiac and Pulmonary services. I’m Suzie Jeffreys. I’m an exercise physiologist here at Howard County General Hospital. My name is Jim Greco and I’m a heart transplant patient. When you’re disabled through a heart condition, there’s a lot of factors going on that you have to deal with. One, you need to change your lifestyle.
You need to learn how to eat properly. You need to learn how to
read labels and to understand what they say on the foods
that you buy and prepare. You need to know how to exercise and
frankly once you’ve had a bad heart attack, you’re afraid to exercise.
A lot of people say, “well, you know exercise is what caused it,” or “exercise with the bad heart is what caused it,” and what you’re gonna learn is that your
lifestyle is what caused it or your genetic predispositions have caused it and what you need to do is now learn how
to live and work and enjoy life within the parameters that you’ve now
got to work with, and that’s what cardiac rehab does. Cardiac rehab is two-fold. First, it’s an
exercise program. What we found is that many of our patients are middle-aged or older and they’ve gone throughout their life
really not being involved in any exercise program uh….they’ve had a cardiac event and at
that point they are somewhat hesitant to do
anything physical because they feel that they may have another event or they may
be hurting themselves. Well, it’s far from it and so the
program is designed to encourage patients to exercise in a way that’s more supervised, is
monitored and we want the patients to be sure that
it’s safe. They do a variety of exercises… bikes, treadmills, upper body, arm machines, weights. So we get a broad spectrum of people.
We get people who are endurance athletes and people who
have not exercised for 30 years or maybe never exercised formally before, so, getting them into the program three days
a week… starting to exercise if they’re that
de-conditioned person who have never done anything
is really a new journey for them. We see a variety of patients with zero or little fitness to patients
that have multiple diseases in addition to their cardiac history. We
have patients that have diabetes, arthritis, pulmonary issues and we try to manage
all of that here. Even though I changed all those things I
had four more heart attacks and each time
after the coronary event my doctors put me back through cardiac
rehab because I had to relearn what my new limitations were and I had to relearn where my safe limits were. So, I think for
the last twenty years I’ve done as well as I could it’s
all because of the group over there at Howard County
General and the good doctors, nurses that work with them. The other part of the program is educational.
People who have had an event…. there are reasons why they’ve had an
event…they’re overweight, they have diabetes, they have high
cholesterol, their blood pressure is not well controlled, they smoke, and so on. And so our goal
is to encourage them to treat those risk
factors, to understand the relationship between
those risk factors and heart disease and to encourage
them to be more astute in following their disease
state to make sure that they treat themselves well after they’ve had their event so they don’t
have another event. Most of our patients are anxious or
depressed, not sure what they can do, so one of the
things that we help do is we help build their confidence and we
also show them in a non-threatening way some of the lifestyle
changes that they can make. We really focus on giving them the tools
that they need, so teaching them how to read food labels is probably one of the most important
things we give them As you know, the front of the package is always the enticer and so we
encourage them to turn the package over and read actually what they’re getting One of the unique things I think about our program is the fact that we have patients coming
into the program at all different times which allows some of the newbies to get support and encouragement from some
of the patients that have been here for a little while longer. Cardiac rehab shows you how to exercise, it shows you how to exercise safely. It teaches you how to recognize your
limits and how to work within those parameters
so that you work safely and they do that by monitoring you
for 12 weeks and showing you literally what’s too much and what’s not enough and
by doing that they instill a great amount of confidence in you and it lets you get back to living a
normal life.

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