A Double Dose of Cardiac Rehab
Liz Blodgett
Washington Rural Health Association Newsletter
June 02, 2008

At the age of 64, Larry Miller has been through cardiac rehabilitation at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute twice. Not because it didn’t work – but because it worked so well.

In January of 2007, Larry Miller started having episodes and went to see his family physician. “In my gut, I knew I would need heart surgery,” said Larry. “So, I focused on what I could control and getting the best care possible.” After being referred to a cardiologist, he had 3 stents put in and was referred to St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane for cardiac rehabilitation.

“At the time, I was in bad shape, and they got me walking again. I am an all out kind of guy and they taught me that pushing it was not helping me. They explained to me how to really exercise my heart; I don’t think many people know how to do that.”

While his rehab was going well and Larry was learning how to take care of his heart, there were still more challenges to face. One night he had an episode and ended up in the emergency room. He had an angioplasty procedure that week and was told he would need open heart surgery.

“Before surgery, I was walking 10 laps a day in the hospital. The lessons I had learned in rehab were helping me gauge how I was doing and listen to my body. I truly believe that my first rehab was essential for my surgery. I went in with no fear, I knew that my heart was in the best shape it could be for the situation going into surgery, and I knew they would be there for me when I got out.”

After surgery, Larry requested that both his family physician and his cardiologist refer him back to St. Luke’s for rehab. “I knew I needed guided heart exercise so I wouldn’t overdo it. I needed to continue to learn how to listen to my body and not ignore the pain.”

Larry has now been released from rehab and is on the way to recovery. “I feel blessed to have had this very caring, very compassionate, tremendous group of people take care of me. They not only taught me how to exercise and enjoy supervised cardiovascular exercise, but they also provided education and materials to help me with a holistic approach to my recovery including diet and the emotional aspects. I am grateful they are here.”

Patients need a physician referral to participate in the cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs at St. Luke’s. Both are medically-monitored exercise and education program, emphasizing disease prevention and management, education and support. In addition physical therapy, certified dietitian and psychology services are available when indicated.

Each case is individually evaluated. A home program is available for some patients after an interval of attending classes in Spokane making it more convenient to continue toward improvement and prevention of further cardiovascular problems. For further information call (509) 473-6013 or visit www.st-lukes.org.