RGH’s cardio unit aids in recovery

By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer

Roosevelt General Hospital offers people who have had a cardiac incident or cardiac surgery a way to recover.

“We’re doing everything we can to offer services to the Portales community,” RGH Director of Rehab Services Danny Justus said. “One of the services is the cardiac rehab.”

Once a patient is stable, they are referred to RGH’s cardiac rehab for the first phase of treatment. Justus said conditions can include a mild heart attack, angina or possible heart transplant.

The second phase, Justus said, “is the gradual introduction of exercises, cessation of smoking, reduction of stress and promoting people to exercise at least 30 to 45 minutes a day for three to four days a week.”

Each patient is monitored during their exercise to make sure that nothing goes wrong, and Justus said a crash cart with emergency equipment and medication is on hand.

“We will figure out their target heart rate (for exercise), which is 220 minus their age,” Justus said. “We always start out with a 65 percent target heart rate in the very beginning and the maximum we will do is 85 percent.”

Gay Weese, RGH director of marketing, said the program helps offer reassurance as well.

“Patients are very fearful of what they can and cannot do,” Weese said, “and cardiac rehab offers them hope, so to speak, that they can go on and live a normal life after a cardiac event. It promotes that courage.”

Education, Justus said, is just as important as the exercise. The program helps patients understand that they have to stop smoking, try to be active, monitor their lipid level and make sure they are on their medication.

Patients usually advance to phase three for outpatient care and then onto phase four where they become independent. Throughout the process, exercise intensity is increased.

Justus said patients are monitored throughout the program, and there are checks for conditions such as an abnormal heartbeat, blood pressure or shortness of breath.

Justus said primarily education and concealing is conducted on an out-patient basis, training is needed to effect a lifestyle change.

“It is proven that a patient with recovering from heart failure can improve their functioning complicity as of a result of the exercise training,” Justus said. “If we could promote physicians to apply exercise rehabilitation to the population, we would see an improvement.”