When being active just isn’t enough for a healthy heart

The story of Preston Ochsner

Preston Ochsner of Spokane, Wash., didn't think the Cardiac and Pulmonary Program at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute fit into his lifestyle. The prescribed 36 visits after having his heart attack seemed like too many. But, he says, once he fully committed to the idea of gaining more education than he thought possible on nutrition, exercise and the functions of the heart, it was all worth the effort.

"To my knowledge I have no family history of heart attacks," Preston, age 50 and sales account executive, says. "I just came home from a week of traveling for work and got up feeling like I was going to be sick. I had cold sweats and just knew something was wrong."

Preston's wife called 911, dispatching local volunteer emergency services in the area. Because they knew an ambulance could take up to 20 minutes to reach them, Preston and his wife decided to drive toward where the ambulance and first responders would be coming from. "I didn't think I could wait for the ambulance at that point," Preston says. 

"When I got in the ambulance, the guy working on me, said 'Preston you need to stay with me'," he remembers. "I said, 'oh I am.' Then he said, 'Well I really need you to open your eyes.' I was thinking this is strange, I can see you but you're asking me to open my eyes-maybe I need to open them. Sure enough, I opened my eyes, and he's right in my face. I could tell things were a little less relaxed than before."

The ambulance arrived at Providence Spokane Heart Institute , where his wife and mother met him. After a stint and two-day stay, he was released and urged to go to St. Luke's where he would begin the process of rehabilitation. 

"That was the start of a new chapter of family, work and how I look at things," Preston says. "At first, going to St. Luke's cardio program was more about doing what the doctors told me to do. I didn't think walking on a treadmill or talking to therapists was going to be helpful. As soon as I started going and was fully committed to the idea of doing this, I realized it was the most important and helpful thing I could do."

"The education part of it and the way the therapists present the material gave me a new perspective on what I thought I knew," he says. "I was an athlete all my life. I thought being active was enough, but now I know I need to have a balance of adding cardio into my day, eating right and having less stress in my day to day."

Preston says he hopes to be back to what he considers "normal" within a year thanks to the education and knowledge he gained at St. Luke's Cardiac and Pulmonary Outpatient Program. 

To find out more about programs at St. Luke's like the Cardiac and Pulmonary Outpatient Program, visit: st-lukes.org/programs-services/ .

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St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute
711 S. Cowley St.
Spokane, WA 99202-1330

Inpatient Information: (509) 473-6058 or 1-833-FOR-SLR-1
Outpatient Information: (509) 473-6869