Building a heathlier life after a heart attack

The story of Tonie McLachlan

On Christmas evening of 2017, Tonie never expected that her life would change forever. She came home from all the holiday festivities and knew something wasn't right, so she called 911 and the ambulance took her to Providence Scared Heart Hospital. At first, the doctors didn't quite know what was wrong with her, but they quickly confirmed she had a heart attack.

"The staff at Sacred Heart was fantastic. I really enjoyed my night nurse," she says about her care before being transferred to continue her recovery at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute.

Tonie went to St. Luke's not knowing exactly what to expect. She enjoyed exercising, but wasn't quite sure exactly what her recovery process would look like. From her first appointment, the St. Luke's Cardiac Rehabilitation team showed her exactly what she needed to do to get back to her normal routine and helped guide her every step of the way. During her time at St. Luke's she was constantly monitored to help track her progress.

Tonie said her physical therapist, Laura, was honest about the process and what to expect when going through her recovery. At first, she struggled with simple tasks such as going up stairs and bending over, but over time she grew stronger.

"The staff made me feel comfortable and showed me exactly what I needed to do. This helped me feel confident that when I graduated from the program I could maintain and live my life to its fullest."

Tonie  didn't have any signs leading up to her heart attack and said it was a huge wake up call for her. "One of the biggest things I was nervous about was re-learning how to eat healthy, but St. Luke's helped provide me with all the information and pamphlets I needed to get my eating back on track."

A little over a year later, Tonie still sometimes has a hard time with stairs and hills, but she says, "I feel relaxed and confident in where I am with my recovery. St. Luke's helped me feel comfortable in my body again. The recovery journey is different for everyone, but the support I received from St. Luke's and others in my therapy classes helped me successfully move forward." After her incident, Tonie keeps up with her exercise routine by walking and swimming laps.

"I am healthier than I was before my heart attack and I now pay attention to what I eat and the labels on my food."

One piece of advice that Tonie would give to someone coming to St. Luke's is, "Trust in the people here, they have done this for a while and they care about you and want what's best for you. They want you to succeed and be healthy."

After her time at St. Luke's Tonie says, "What motives me is my family and friends. Life isn't over because of a heart attack. With a new outlook on life and the right food and exercise, I will live a long and healthy life. Thank you, St. Luke's, for giving me the tools I need." 

Learn more about how St. Luke's Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation program can help you by visiting: .


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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