Dwayne Cason, heart attack survivor

When you talk to Dwayne Cason, you know right away that he’s been through a lot. The 71-year-old Viet Nam veteran has had his share of injuries, but perhaps none as life threatening as the heart attack that forced him to have open heart surgery last June. “I was taking care of 37 acres and walking five miles a day,” he said, “and I still had a heart attack!”

Luckily for Dwayne, he knew where to find the best cardiac rehabilitation in Southern Iowa– with Jennifer England at Ringgold County Hospital. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give Jennifer a 12!” He’d worked with her in 2010 after having a stent put in, so he knew how she worked and that she would help him after his surgery. “Jennifer’s the best. I told her ‘I want you to push me. Push me hard.’ And she really pushed me.”

Dwayne explained that each session began with warm ups like leg lifts, squats, and stretching his muscles. Then they’d lift weights. “I started lifting at three pounds. She got me up to eight. And Jennifer does every one of them with you. She always had two pounds more than me.”

For many cardiac patients, time on a treadmill is part of their rehab. Not so for Dwayne. “You can walk forever,” said Jennifer. So instead he spent time on a bike. “We bumped up the resistance and I’d ride for 30 minutes.” According to Dwayne, his doctors told him he won’t feel 100% better until a year after his surgery. But he’s working hard to beat that prediction. With the great start he received from RCH cardiac rehab, he’s well on his way.

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