Most health-related success stories heard on the news or through word-of-mouth are about patients who suffered a condition and were helped due to an innovative procedure or drug – or even a heroic individual who was in the right place at the right time. The stories that often are not told, however, are those that don’t happen; rather, the times when a condition or unfortunate event was avoided due to proper preventative care.
Nurse Practitioner Matt Gross with the Heart and Vascular Institute (HVI) hopes folks will acknowledge the importance of the latter this week. It’s Cardiac Rehab Week, and Matt organized the Treadmill Challenge which took place yesterday in Rapid City Hospital’s Cardiac Rehab Gym. Working like a relay team, 13 providers took turns continuously walking on a treadmill between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Patients participated as well, exercising alongside their providers.
“The cardiac rehab program is one of the best things someone can do to prevent heart disease,” Matt said, noting that while cardiac rehab providers don’t always see the effects of their work with patients, they provide one of the most important services. “Prevention is hidden. But the statistics show you’re probably saving more lives and preventing more heart attacks and strokes than you could in other areas of the hospital.”
Most cardiac rehab patients are referred by a provider after suffering a condition like a heart attack or heart surgery. Patients in the Phase 2 Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Rapid City Hospital exercise three days a week for one hour, completing 36 sessions. They also receive education on heart-healthy topics.
Exercise Physiologist Kindal Malehorn sees patients in the hospital right after a cardiac event and continues to work with them when they’re in the Cardiac Rehab program. She said the job is extremely rewarding. “We get to witness miracles. I’ve seen people come in in a wheelchair, but by the time they leave they’re running on a treadmill. We get to be a part of an incredible transformation.”
At the end of the day, Matt hopes cardiac rehab patients recognize that they’re making a good decision by participating. “I hope they know the world of good they’re doing for themselves.”
February is American Heart Month. Monument Health caregivers also helped organize the February Freeze 5k Fun Run/Walk that took place Feb. 9 at Founders Park in Rapid City.
The Cardiac Rehab Gyms in Lead-Deadwood, Spearfish, Sturgis and Rapid City, as well as the Physical Therapy Gym in Custer, are open to all caregivers and physicians. Find more information on the LiveWell portal under the “Resources” tab by clicking on “Move Well.”
(Above photo, left to right: Matt Gross, CNP, Martin Digler, PA-C, Becky Sharp, CNP)