After cardiac rehab at Parkwest, Marty Lane and his wife, Barbara, enjoyed a cruise to Alaska.

Cardiac rehab puts heart patient on the road to better health

Heart disease is not something anyone would wish for, and yet Marty Lane of Knoxville counts it as an unusual blessing. “In a weird sort of way, it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” said

Lane, 64. “It was a two-by-four across the head, a wake-up call that you can’t eat whatever you want in the amount you want, and not pay the price.”

In April 2018 Lane was at work when he started feeling dizzy and short of breath, with chest pains. He went to Parkwest Medical Center’s emergency department.

“Mr. Lane had a severe blockage in the left circumflex coronary artery,” explained cardiologist Mitchell Weiss, MD. Dr. Weiss performed coronary angioplasty, a procedure to open the clogged artery, and he inserted a tiny mesh tube called a stent to help keep the artery open and decrease its chance of narrowing again.

Lane was at Parkwest for two days. “Afterward, they told me I very much needed to go to cardiac rehab,” he said.

Parkwest’s cardiopulmonary rehabilitation (CROP) is a program for patients who have experienced heart disease or are recovering from a cardiac event such as a heart attack, heart surgery or angioplasty. Led by physicians, nurses and other trained staff, CROP is an exercise and education program to help patients regain heart strength and learn new strategies for heart healthy cooking, reducing stress, and understanding medications.

“I believe cardiac rehabilitation is particularly important for patients like Mr. Lane who have to make major lifestyle changes to really give them a good start down a pathway to better health,” Dr. Weiss said. “It is beneficial not only because of the exercise program that patients follow, but also because of the education they receive. For some patients, it’s the motivation they need to really make significant, impactful lifestyle changes.”

Lane said he went to rehab reluctantly at first. “I’m not much for working out,” Lane admitted. “I love sports, but as far as working out, no. But I will have to admit that as I went through the process of rehab, the exercise counselors were very nice to me. They didn’t talk in a condemning tone. They didn’t talk down to me; they were really there to encourage me.

“They customized the program to my physical and mental needs at the time. I came to where I could finally see the progress I was making,” he said. “From weight loss to energy level, to stamina, when you start seeing tangible benefits, it really motivates you.” said Lane.

During his 10 weeks in CROP, Lane said he lost about 55 pounds. In late July Lane and his wife, Barbara, went on a previously scheduled cruise to Alaska.

“It was the trip of a lifetime,” said Lane. “And it motivated me, because I knew I had to lug myself and two big carry-ons through two international airports! My wife said that two months earlier I couldn’t have done that,” said Lane.

Lane said the cardiac rehabilitation program also helped with depression he had experienced before the stent procedure. “I think a whole lot of my depression was attributed to the fact I was gaining weight.

I had low energy level and self-esteem,” Lane said. “Once the weight started coming off and I started feeling better, it helped a great deal with depression, because you know you’re doing right.”

Lane finished the program in early August, and has now joined a gym close to his home.

“Now I have habits that will sustain me,” he said. “I have to give up cheeseburgers and pizza. But now one of my favorite dinners is salmon. I bake it in the oven with some spices and just a little bit of brown sugar and low-sodium soy sauce. I roast vegetables like broccoli, squash, onions, carrots or Brussels sprouts with it, with a little olive oil. It’s fantastic!” Lane said.

“I am just grateful for the care at Parkwest and the cardiac rehabilitation program. I’m glad they could unblock my artery,” Lane said. “I could have had a major heart attack with major damage, so I consider myself very, very fortunate.”