George Hays knows his way around cardiac rehab. As an exercise specialist, he helps patients bolster their fitness.
“Oh yeah, it’s wonderful to watch them to get stronger, especially people that come in and don’t want to do it. They absolutely don’t,” says Hays, cardiac exercise specialist with Lee Memorial Health System.
He feels their resistance, because he’s been there. Hays had his own cardiac wakeup call. He underwent surgery to place a stent to open an artery that was 90% blocked.
“It was probably more embarrassing. I haven’t been able to consistently exercise or get more then a couple days in a row. So some of it was being out of shape,” says Hays.
Hays made the most of his second chance, putting himself through the program.
“What we do here is lifestyle modification,” says Alexis Collins.
Collins is a registered nurse and co-worker.
“They come in for up to 35 sessions to put a monitor on and exercise. And at the same time we provide education on risk factors, to help them modify them so the cardiovascular disease isn’t a problem for them in the future,” says Collins.
Cardiac rehab is like a boot camp for heart health. It’s been proven to lower the chances of a repeat incident- but too many people are skipping the health makeover.
A multi-country study showed 14% of heart patients did not stop smoking, engage in physical activity, or revamp their diet despite findings that people who make these changes have a 95% three-year survival rate.
“We go over their progress every week- but they see it, we see it. We watch them get stronger their heart actually benefits from the program itself,” says Collins.
“Nothing breeds success like success,” says Hays.