Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Heart Rehabilitation Programs are for Life

About a month after my heart attacks, it was suggested to me that I join the rehabilitation program at the Ottawa Heart Institute (http://www.ottawaheart.ca ). This free program consists of 16 one-hour sessions, 2 a week.

During these sessions, each participant warmed up by walking around the indoor track. 

I was surprised that only about 35% of people who are offered this opportunity at this facility actually do it. There are 15 people in each class. It was my impression that many of this group did not work out seriously. They would go out on the track for a short time and then intersperse the exercise with talking with their friends, getting a drink of water or going to the bathroom. On the other hand, there were some who arrived early to get warmed up, exercised diligently and cooled down afterward.   It wasn't hard to guess who might be candidates for repeat attacks. 

Before I joined the program, I could only walk about one block before I got chest pains and had to rest. This I could do only twice a week. 

At  my first rehab session, they wired me up and sent me onto the track. There was a nurse and a physio watching monitors of my progress. They said to come to them when the pains developed. In five minutes I was back. 

They saw nothing ontoward on the monitors and suggested I raise my arms over my head. "Do the pains feel different with your arms up ?". "Yes". "Then those pains aren’t cardio but likely musculoskeletal".  With that reassurance, I went back to the track and walked for an hour. First time I had been able to walk since the attacks. 

I now walk over an hour a day, every day.  My weekly target is more than 400 minutes a week.

1.    Use everything offered to you to improve
2.    Continue to push to get answers to your unanswered questions
3.    Be adamant about your exercise. Your life depends on it
4.    Search for local programs to help you with your recovery
5.    Your life has changed. Work with it to have many more years

Action Steps:
1.    Find a program today
2.    Sign up
3.    Follow the program diligently

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