With suitcase packed and plane ticket in hand, avid traveler Marie Hutcherson was on her way to California with her girlfriends for vacation. Little did she know a visit to her doctor—for what she thought was a bout with bronchitis—would derail her travel plans.
“I did actually have bronchitis. But I was shocked to learn I had a serious heart condition too,” said Marie. “And within three days, I was having quadruple bypass surgery.”
With a family history of heart disease—her father and brother were both heart patients—Marie was prepared for the lifestyle she would soon adapt, and furthermore would learn to love.
“Dr. Ellis referred me to cardiac rehab at Archbold in 2002 following my heart surgery,” said Marie. “I’ve exercised at minimum three times per week ever since.”
Archbold’s cardiac rehab program is a professionally supervised program to help people recover from heart attacks, heart surgery and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures such as stenting and angioplasty. Licensed professionals work with patients through education and counseling services to help heart patients increase physical fitness, reduce cardiac symptoms, improve health and reduce the risk of future heart problems, including heart attack.
Through a medical evaluation, the cardiac rehab staff tailors a rehabilitation program for each patient and helps them set goals. Training often starts in a group setting where the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure are monitored closely during physical activity. Patients learn how to check their heart rate and level (intensity) of activity, and work up to more intense aerobic activity on a treadmill or exercise bike.Counseling and education help patients understand their condition and how to manage it. Often patients work with a dietitian to create a healthy eating plan.
“Archbold’s Cardiac Rehab staff offer tremendous support and training that has helped me learn to manage my heart condition,” said Marie. “They really care about their patients and they are concerned if I miss one of my regular scheduled days.”
“I’m a living, walking example of what cardiac rehab can do. Exercising keeps my blood sugar down and my cholesterol where it needs to be. I can tell when I don’t come; I just don’t feel good.
In addition to adopting a healthy lifestyle, Marie learned to pay attention to her body’s warning signs.
“I owe my life to Dr. Ellis,” said Marie. “He taught me that everybody’s symptoms are different. For instance, I experience pain in my upper back, and that’s how my heart tells me when something is wrong. If you are lucky enough to have warning signs, listen to them. It’s your body’s way of communicating you have a problem.”
As for traveling, Marie’s heart condition hasn’t slowed her down one bit. She later made that trip to California, and has since traveled the country visiting almost every single state. Next on her bucket list—Las Vegas.