Program Helps Cardiac Patients to Bounce Back

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Cardiac patients at CHI St. Vincent are taking advantage of a program that aims to help patients return to a productive lifestyle quicker.

Walking towards session number 31 seemed almost impossible for cardiac patient Tangela Harris-McClendon.

"I'm like oh my god are they serious? I can't do all this."

Harris-McClendon is lifting weights now, but tackles just about every machine in this room.

CHI St. Vincent's cardiac and pulmonary rehab program has changed Tangela's outlook not only physically, but mentally as well.

"Having all that major surgery, I did not want to end up back where I was at," Harris-McClendon said.

In September, she had surgery for mitral valve repair.

She says she was tired all the time and just didn't feel like herself.

"Like it felt like I wanted to faint, but it never happened. and I would feel like that sometime."

After surgery, doctors recommend cardiac patients like Tangela to go through cardiac rehab.

The rehab is a medically supervised program, that patients attend a few times a week. Harris-McClendon works with exercise physiologist Brian Frame, who helps cardiac patients get strong again.

"The majority of them can barely make one to two minutes walking. By the time we're done with the program, 20-30 minutes at a brisk walking pace," Frame said.

during her exercise nurses are monitoring for any abnormalities in her heart rate or rhythms.

They also offer nutrition counseling, risk factor assessment and a modification plan along with educational classes related to coronary artery disease.

"It's your health," said Harris-McClendon. "It's best to come so you can get better."

Once patients graduate from the program most of them get a membership so they can keep up the work they started after surgery.

Harris-McClendon is expected to graduate soon. 

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