LUFKIN, TEXAS (February 2, 2016)… Life can change in an instant. For millions of Americans heart disease is a daily, at times terrifying, reality. Weakness and fatigue sets in, eating and lifestyle habits must change and the fear of another cardiovascular event – such as a heart attack, balloon angioplasty, or even heart surgery – is a daily fear.
Patients often need specifically designed rehabilitation to significantly improve cardiac health. The CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial Cardiac Rehabilitation program offers specialized care. Research indicates that patients who undergo cardiac rehabilitation have 25-30% reduction in heart attacks and strokes. Exercise can provide great benefits for those with cardiovascular conditions.
“Thousands of men and women in East Texas are heart disease survivors and could greatly benefit from cardiac rehabilitation,” said by Medical Director Ravinder Bachireddy M.D., FACC. “Our program focuses on the individual patient — like Kevin Cole — to get them to their very best health.”
For Kevin and Charlinda Cole, December 18, 2014, was a day like any other. The couple headed south for Charlinda’s daughter’s basketball game. Kevin complained of shortness of breath, and by that night, he was suffering congestive heart failure after experiencing a heart attack.
The now 49-year-old Lufkin man had surgery to reconstruct a torn artery and spent the next several weeks on a ventilator. A second surgery in January repaired more arteries running from his heart. A third surgery was necessary due to bad blood flow in his legs. But it was the fourth surgery that Kevin said he had the hardest time accepting.
“We literally watched his leg die,” Charlinda said. “The doctor came in, and explained they had to amputate part of his right leg.”
On January 26 – more than a month after Kevin’s initial heart attack – Dr. Clint Warren amputated the limb just below Kevin’s right calf.
“I took losing my leg a lot harder than the heart attack,” Kevin said. “It’s still rough now. It’s a day to day thing. I try to keep my mental state right, and just keep on going.”
Kevin left the hospital in a wheelchair and was fitted for a prosthetic limb. The couple had been married a little more than a year before Kevin’s heart attack, and the stress of those few months wore hard on them.
“At the time, I did not understand why this would happen to me,” Kevin said. “It was stressful on my wife and on her daughter. It was real hard, but everybody around me kept my spirits up, especially my wife. She was drained and tired, but she did a tremendous job with me. You just can’t repay a person for putting everything on hold and taking care of someone in a situation like ours.”
But with a can-do spirit and the realization he would also have to help himself on the road to recovery, Kevin entered the CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial Cardiac Rehabilitation program.
“In the beginning stages of cardiac rehab, Mr. Cole showed difficulty with his prosthetic leg by limping; he had an unsteady gait and was favoring his good leg. He was also using a wheelchair,” Cardiac Rehabilitation Program Coordinator Nancy Sanchez said. “By the end of three months, he had greatly improved his functional mobility and was able to walk backwards, do lunges and squats and advanced to exercising on the treadmill and rower.”
During the course of his specialized treatment, Kevin advanced to lightly jogging on the treadmill. He no longer needed his wheelchair, walker or cane. He improved to 60 minute exercise sessions, vastly lowered his bad cholesterol and improved his good cholesterol, and stopped smoking.
Kevin’s resilience, willingness to work and a specialized cardiac rehabilitation program led to where he is today.
“The Cardiac Rehabilitation staff was really great,” Kevin said. “They started out slow, and they pushed me to get my heart in condition. They showed me what to eat and what not to eat and how to keep my strength up with exercise. Now I try to take a walk every day.”
Something he never dreamed possible before graduating from Memorial’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program – and a dream come true for more than 170 men and women who have graduated from the program since its inception in March 2014.
The individualized cardiac rehabilitation program typically lasts between 6-12 weeks and consists of 2-3 exercise and/or education sessions per week. The team uses a multidisciplinary approach to meet the needs of each patient, including continuous heart and hemodynamic monitoring to ensure healthy progression and cardiovascular wellness.
For more information, contact the Memorial Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at (936) 634-8840.
About CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial
Memorial provides more than a quarter of a million patient services each year and has a longstanding history of providing quality, innovative health care in East Texas.
With hospitals in Lufkin, Livingston, San Augustine and Memorial Specialty – the area’s only long-term acute care hospital – CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial provides millions of dollars in charity care and community support each year. Our mission is to nurture the healing ministry of the Church, supported by education and research. Fidelity to the Gospel urges us to emphasize human dignity and social justice as we create healthier communities.
Memorial offers a wide array of services, including the area’s first dedicated heart and stroke care facility and radiation oncology at the Temple Cancer Center. It is also known for the area’s only comprehensive diabetes, heart and stroke education center. Other specialty areas include imaging, orthopedic care, women’s services, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, homecare, wound care and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, kidney & diabetes treatment, sleep disorders treatment and express lab.
Memorial Clinics, a division of the health system, employs 30 providers in 17 locations across East Texas. Specialties include Family Practice, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Cardiology, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, Internal Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Allergy/Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose & Throat), and Chiropractic Care.
About Catholic Health Initiatives
Catholic Health Initiatives, a nonprofit, faith-based health system formed in 1996 through the consolidation of four Catholic health systems, expresses its mission each day by creating and nurturing healthy communities in the hundreds of sites across the nation where it provides care. One of the nation’s largest health systems, Englewood, Colo.-based CHI operates in 19 states and comprises 105 hospitals, including four academic health centers and major teaching hospitals and 30 critical-access facilities; community health-services organizations; accredited nursing colleges; home-health agencies; and other facilities that span the inpatient and outpatient continuum of care.
In fiscal year 2014, CHI provided $910 million in charity care and community benefit – a nearly 20% increase over the previous year – for programs and services for the poor, free clinics, education and research. Charity care and community benefit totaled more than $1.7 billion with the inclusion of the unpaid costs of Medicare. The health system, which generated revenues of almost $13.9 billion in fiscal year 2014, has total assets of $21.8 billion. Learn more at www.catholichealthinitiatives.com.