Tag Archives: cardiac rehab

I Graduated…

…from Cardiac Rehab!!!

After 36 sessions of Cardiac Rehab over the past 4 months, I finally graduated!  Here is my “graduation” photo, which they will hang up along with all of the other photos of graduates, on their bulletin board.

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For my last session,  I did my workouts as normal, but the nurses and exercise physiologists talked to me quite a bit about my Individual Treatment Plan (what I can do at home) and answered any questions I asked.  On the first day of Cardiac Rehab they took measurements, and they took measurements on the last day to compare.  I did not really lose any weight or body fat percentage, but I am extremely happy about the 3 inches lost from my waist!  I can tell a difference in my body even if the other measurements don’t show it.

They gave me a packet of information to take home that included my Individual Treatment Plan (listing the things I was doing – speed, duration, weights, etc – in Cardiac Rehab). Within this packet, they wrote down my maximum heart rate, so I know what not to go over when working out, as well as heart rate range I should be in while working out.  They suggested that I take my blood pressure before and after working out and keep a log in case my cardiologist needs it.  I also received a certificate and, most importantly, a Tshirt!

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I have the option of moving into Phase 3 with Cardiac Rehab if I ever want to, but I don’t think I will need to do this. This would consist of going into Cardiac Rehab to work out, but without the heart monitor and constant supervision of the nurses.  It’s kind of like going to a gym where someone checks your blood pressure for you before and after your work out, you wear a heart rate watch during the work out, and you work out on your own (based on your Individual Treatment Plan).  This is not covered by insurance and costs $4 per visit, but you have the comfort of nurses around you in case something happens.  Since I already have a gym membership, and my focus is jogging/walking, I will continue my Phase 3 at home and at the gym.  But I can definitely go back to Cardiac Rehab to continue Phase 3 if I change my mind at any time.

I’ve had such an amazing team assisting me throughout Cardiac Rehab.  It helped me gain confidence and decreased some of my anxiety about working out.  Now, I’m on my own, and it’s up to me to continue to workout 150 minutes per week.   Let’s do this!!

I’m Jogging Faster!

It’s funny how you switch up something in your work out so minor but it turns out to make such a huge difference!  Normally, in Cardiac Rehab, I do 10 minutes on the bike and THEN go to the treadmill for 26 minutes of walking and jogging.  My lower legs usually get really fatigued and my 2 minute jogging intervals are difficult.  I find myself “pushing” through them and only being able to maintain the 4.3 speed for about a minute before decreasing down to 4.0 speed for the 2nd minute.

During my last Cardiac Rehab session, the bikes were all full when I started, so I HAD to start on the treadmill.  Of course, there was some trepidation on my part.  Not sure how I would feel doing that before my legs were “warmed up”.  So, I grabbed some water to put in the treadmill’s cup holder (I have to run with water) and began.

THIS TREADMILL SESSION FELT A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!  I began my 4 minutes of walking at 3.0 speed.  Then increased the speed to run.  My range is between 4.0-4.4, but I’ve never felt good enough to try 4.4 until NOW.  I increased the speed to 4.4, and it felt good.  After a minute, I still felt good…maybe even better!  I did it!  I ran for 2 full minutes at 4.4 speed, and it felt great!  No pain, no fatigue, didn’t feel like I was “pushing” through!  I was glad to get back down to the 3.0 speed to walk and catch my breath.  I completed my next 4 minutes of walking at 3.0 and then accelerated to 4.4 to run again for 2 minutes and did it!  Again!  And it still felt great!  My legs felt so strong, I felt so in shape!  I was able to complete ALL 4 of my 2 minute jogging intervals at the 4.4 speed for the entire time!  What a work out!  And to think I’ve been getting tired and fatigued on the bike, which has probably been holding me back.

After the treadmill, I went to the bike for 10 minutes.  It was hard.  I felt like I was struggling a little, and I was sweating quite a lot!  But I finished.

And now I know that next time, I want to start with the treadmill and save the bike until the end.  It’s funny how a small change like that can make a world of difference.

I could definitely tell a difference later in the day.  My legs felt stronger and tighter, and all around, I felt better (those endorphins!).

It feels great that I was able to increase my speed and maintain it.  Maybe I’ll get to that 5K in well before my 1 year goal!

P.S. I did buy new running shoes.  Didn’t spend a lot of time researching and shopping because I was super tired that day.  I normally rotate through various brands – Nike, Saucony, Adidas, and New Balance.  The pair I bought this round is Saucony.  We’ll see how they work out for now.

I’m Jogging!

I’ve started jogging in cardiac rehab!!!!  It was so exciting to begin!  Of course, my doctor had already given permission for me to start, but I had to work up to it in cardiac rehab to ensure my blood pressure and heart rate were doing ok first.  I am doing 26 minutes on the treadmill there now – 4 minutes @ 3.0 speed; 2 minutes @ 4.0-4.2 speed (jogging); repeat.  I’m glad they only started me with 2 minute jogging intervals.  Since I haven’t been running since February, I was fine with this short amount of time.  I don’t enjoy running on treadmills, and with the heart monitor strapped to me and nurses checking on me every few minutes, it’s a little overwhelming.  I am not experiencing shortness of breath like I thought I might (and like I did during my stress test), but I am definitely experiencing fatigue in my lower legs and heavy breathing towards the end of the 2 minutes.  My running shoes probably aren’t helping because they are an old pair that is uncomfortable.  I’m only wearing them because my other running shoes (5 years old and ready to be replaced) got soaking wet a few weeks ago and now smell incredibly terrible.  Maybe this weekend I will go shopping for running shoes!  That will also help inspire me to run.  It’s like shopping for school supplies every fall (some of you will know what I mean)!

I’ve been running now in cardiac rehab for 3 sessions and I even ran at the gym one night!  On the gym’s treadmill, I walked for 5 minutes at 3.0 speed and ran for 2 minutes at 4.0 speed.  I did this for 30 minutes total.  I felt my pace was better and overall I felt better on this treadmill.  I’m sure because I was in my own element.  The only hard thing was checking my heart rate on the machine.  I have to place my hands over the handles several times to get the reading.  I can’t wait to get my own heart rate watch!!

I haven’t set my goal yet…but I feel it coming on.  I’d like to be able to run a 5K in about a year.  Wouldn’t that be great to prove that one doctor wrong who said I’d probably never run a 5K again!!!

Cardiac Rehab.

I finally began Cardiac Rehab, which will help me determine my limitations.  The past few times I’ve gone walking in my neighborhood, I’ve had some pain in my chest and back when breathing.  Cardiac Rehab will allow my heart to get stronger and will hopefully increase my stamina.  I will start off with 18 sessions, and then they will reassess to see if I need an additional 18.  My insurance covers it, but my copay is $40 per session, which is way more than I can really afford, but it’s something I have to do.  I can do 2 or 3 1-hour sessions per week, so I’ve agreed to start out with 3, and then I’ll drop down to 2 per week for financial reasons.

My first session was over 2 hours long because the nurse wanted to go over my file with me, discuss my prescriptions, and review my cholesterol numbers.  Then, I got to try out some of the machines.  I wear a heart monitor and there are nurses and exercise physiologists in the room that monitor your heart rate and check your blood pressure.  I started out walking on the treadmill for 5 minutes at a pace of about 2.1.  I had no problems!  Then, I tried 5 minutes on an elliptical-type machine where you are sitting down.  Finally, I tried 5 minutes on a stationery bike.  Even though everything was done at a slow pace, I still worked up a sweat.  It really is a great feeling to know that if something happens, I’m surrounded by a team of medical professionals.

During my second session, they increased my time on the 3 machines to 7 minutes and increased the pace.  I had no pain and worked up more of a sweat.  My heart rate and blood pressure exactly what they should be for someone my age.  In fact, I even went back on the treadmill a 2nd time for 6 more minutes and felt fine.

My goals from Cardiac Rehab are to ensure my heart heals, build up my stamina, and eventually get to the point where I’m healthy to run again.  Years ago, I was a runner and would run 3-5 miles a day.  I competed in 5Ks, 10Ks, and even completed a half marathon.  I believe that running for so many years is the reason that my heart bounced back so quickly after the heart attack.  The doctors are still amazed that my heart went from 15% EF to 40-44% EF in a matter of a few days.  I attribute this to running for so many years.

First Appointment With My Cardiologist.

The first appointment with my Dr. went as well as it could.  Everyone is so nice.  First, I met with a nurse who took my bp on both arms and did an EKG on me.  Next, I met a PA (Physician’s Assistant) who talked to me more about the tightness I’ve been experiencing in my chest and to go over other details of symptoms and side effects I’ve been having.  I explained all of the pain I’ve been experiencing (back, chest, arm) and let her know that I’ve still been very tired and worn down, especially when trying to walk for exercise.  I asked her how my EKG reading looked, and she said it was beautiful.  That felt great to hear!!  Then, I met with my Dr.  

I explained in detail everything I experienced over the weekend and anything I was still experiencing.  He said he will have to talk to a cholesterol expert to see what they recommend because I have to be on a cholesterol medicine.  In the meantime, he asked me to no longer take the Crestor and start taking 2 Advil every 8 hours to see if that helps.  He thinks the pain and tightness could be from the sac around my heart and wasn’t sure if the feeling was musculoskeletal or not.  He also wants me to start cardiac rehab, so I can learn my limitations.  Once again, he reminded me that he saved my life!  🙂 And he told some of the story again.  My dad came with me to my appointment (so he could make his own appointment with my Dr.) but waited outside.  The Dr. asked about my parents, and I let him know my dad was here, so the Dr. called him in so he could listen to everything he said to me.  It was good to have 2 sets of ears to remember everything.  I wish I could bring a voice recorder into my appointments so I remember everything.  

I had my list of questions ready, and before the Dr. left, I let him know I had a few more questions.  He said I can’t do roller coasters or go running 3 miles or do anything that would quickly increase my heart rate for a couple of months at least.  That is fair.  I also asked for clarification on the foods that he originally told me to remove from my diet.  Again, he said NO fried foods, NO egg yolks, and NO cheese.  I asked if that meant forever…he said I could have cheese on a rare occasion.  I told him I was trying the vegan route (but eating fish/seafood), and he told me he never said I couldn’t have meat.  I knew that, but I was taking it a step further.  He said his wife is a vegetarian and because vegetarians can’t eat meat, they supplement with a lot of cheese in most of their dishes.  As a result, his wife’s cholesterol is higher than his!  So, it didn’t sound like he was forcing me into the vegan lifestyle, which I’ve found very difficult.  I took that as my queue to relax a bit on the strict diet I was on.  Plus, I haven’t lost any weight.  

He decided to put me on a Holter Monitor for 24 hours, which I picked up a few days later.  I’m so glad he did that so he can see if everything is normal when I’m not at the Dr.’s office.  And he wants to see me again in a few weeks.  

It’s been a few days, and I haven’t heard from his office yet regarding the new cholesterol medicine.  They also haven’t contacted me about setting up my next appointment with him or Cardiac Rehab, so I will follow up with them tomorrow.