Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation helps patients gain new strength
There’s nothing wrong with having drive and determination, but there was a time when Marlene Eeg was driving her health into a danger zone. Overweight and often working 60 to 70 hours a week, she was constantly boarding planes for business travel both in the U.S. and overseas, and lack of sleep was normal. “I wasn’t taking care of myself,” Eeg says. “I was just burning the candle at both ends and maybe in the middle, too.”
Eeg has been a patient at Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation twice. She shares her story to remind others that good health is priceless. “I was in such denial,” Eeg says. “I kept thinking ‘I’m doing fine,’ but you’ve got to put your health first.”
On Thanksgiving Day in 2018, Eeg had unusual heartburn that over-the- counter medication didn’t completely resolve. With a history of heart problems including an ablation performed 20 years earlier for supraventricular tachycardia (an abnormally fast or erratic heartbeat that affects the heart’s upper chambers), Eeg knew it would be smart to get checked out. She went to the hospital that was closest to her Vonore home. From there she was transferred to Parkwest Medical Center where her heart attack was formally diagnosed.
After a heart catheterization and stent, Eeg was asked if she wanted to follow up with Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation. “I said yes because I didn’t know what else to say,” Eeg remembers. “But I found the program would give me new life!” Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitations offers a physician-supervised pro- gram for people who have either congenital or acquired heart disease. Heart patients are closely monitored while undergoing individualized treatment plans. Eeg remembers her first visit well. The journey from heart attack to cardiac rehab had been a difficult one, both physically and mentally. “I was very emotional but I was treated with such respect, kindness and gentleness,” Eeg says. “The environment and rehab team were so supportive, and I couldn’t have been treated better.”
The weeks that followed included a comprehensive exercise program, home exercises and education in topics related to heart health. Eeg had always considered herself to be a well-read person, but there were new revelations in classes that taught a variety of topics from stress management to healthy eating and more. At home, her husband gave her support and encouragement as she began to build a new life. Losing 50 pounds and gaining new respect for the importance of self-care, Eeg changed her work position and hectic lifestyle to better suit her new heart-health priorities. “I now consider this preventative medicine,” Eeg says.
Knowing Where to Go
When Eeg’s heart attack was diagnosed in 2018, she was warned a second artery was becoming clogged and might eventually re- quire a stent. In late summer of 2021, she noticed signs that her heart might not be working as well as it should, so she met with her cardiologist. Two failed stress tests later, Eeg was scheduled for a heart cath and a stent. This time, Eeg
took the initiative to suggest Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation for herself. True to form, she jumped into rehab with enthusiasm and gave it all her effort and energy in the
weeks that followed. “Marlene is tough and determined,” says case manager Amy Dale, RN. “She wanted to get stronger and healthier and she did. She almost doubled her time and intensity of exercise.”
Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation staff helped Eeg work through every bump in the road to recovery. She again performed exercises at home to bolster the impact of the rehab sessions. Eeg’s heart became stronger, she lost another 20 pounds and her health improved even more. With her second round of rehab complete, Eeg continues to exercise regularly, eats healthier foods and has an outlook that prioritizes her health and well-being. Eeg may have heart problems in her rear view mirror, but today she is driven to stay on course for a better quality of life. “The whole program was just amazing,” Eeg says of her life-changing experiences with Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation. “I am on a good path.”
Life After a Heart Attack
A healthier lifestyle after a heart attack can make a difference not only in a patient’s quality of life, but in length of life, too. Research indicates that heart attack survivors could gain
more than seven healthy years of life if they take the right medications, eat a healthy diet and get active. Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation helps heart patients get on track for those extra years. Programs can be prescribed in the aftermath of a heart attack so patients have supervised exercise and other services such as nutrition ad- vice and help with quitting smoking and stress reduction.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program, often covered by insurance including Medicare and Medicaid. It is staffed by medical personnel and connected to heart specialists who can ensure patients are getting the right medications in the right doses.
Learning to “Eat Healthy”
At Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, education- al classes deliver information that supports heart patients in the effort to minimize risk factors and adopt healthier habits. This
includes finding new ways to eat foods that are better for the body, and reducing salt and fat intake without sacrificing flavor.
Fears about exercise, depression or the feeling that it’s too late to make a difference can keep heart attack survivors from doing what’s necessary for a longer life. Cardiac rehab gets
patients into a monitored setting where they can be active and learn to trust their bodies again. The length of cardiac rehab may range from six weeks to a year or longer and will depend on a patient’s specific needs. If you’ve had recent heart problems, the Centers for Disease Control recommends talking to your doctor about cardiac rehabilitation to find out if it can help
extend your life and improve your quality of life for the years ahead.
Is It Right for Me?
Parkwest Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation creates personalized plans to meet the individual needs of each patient. A cardiac physician supervises the heart program with a team of other cardiac professionals.
- Rehabilitation nurse
- Exercise Physiologist
- Respiratory Therapist
- Dietitian and Nutritionist
The goal of cardiac rehabilitation is to help patients reverse their symptoms and maximize cardiac function. Conditions or cardiac procedures that might need cardiac rehabilitation may include:
- Angina pectoris
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Post-open heart surgery
- Post-heart transplantation
- Balloon angioplasty
- Stent placement
- Congenital heart disease
- Rheumatic heart disease
- Heart failure