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Tag Archives: Cardiac rehab

Back in the Saddle

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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Feeling Better Than Ever

2016 George Haidsiak

Cardiac rehab helped George get back to work

For George Haidsiak, the “new normal” is actually better than ever. “I feel wonderful!” he reported on a cold day in January. His story begins when he experienced chest pains and was rushed to the hospital. “They did an enzyme test, and sure enough, I’d had a heart attack,” he explained. “They took me to Des Moines to see a heart specialist. Luckily, it was a very small obstruction that affected only about 10% of my heart. After trying to do an angiogram, which didn’t work, I was told that I could go back to my normal activities.”
A lifelong farmer, currently managing about 90 head of cattle, George has been active all his life. But like anyone in his 60s, over time he had begun to “take the easier roads when doing things.” His “normal activities” included plenty of physical labor, but not necessarily constant work for extended lengths of time. When Jennifer England from Ringgold County Hospital’s cardiac rehab department contacted him, he was skeptical at first. “The doctors had cleared me for normal activity, so I didn’t think I needed rehab. But I agreed to come in and talk to her. I thought it sounded very interesting so I decided to start the program.”
George’s rehab focused on exercise and nutrition education. He began with 2 ½ miles per hour walks on a treadmill for about 20 minutes. Along with the walking he did stretching and weight lifting and other muscle-building exercises. By the time he finished his 16-week program he was up to 3 miles per hour for at least 40 minutes. “I could really feel the difference,” he said. “As it got more strenuous, I kept
improving.” He’s continued the exercise program at home. “When I’m doing chores and working on the farm I don’t get tired or winded like I used to.”

After four months of cardiac rehab, George doesn't tire as easily

After four months of cardiac rehab, George doesn’t tire as easily

Because of his overall health and the condition of his heart, cardiac rehab was recommended, but not mandatory for George. It was the convenience of Ringgold County Hospital and the quality of the staff that made the difference for him. “If they’d wanted me to do rehab in Des Moines, I just wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “It’s a two-hour drive and not economically feasible. But this worked out perfectly for me. Jennifer was superb.”
George’s “new normal” really is better than ever. “I feel wonderful. It’s been worth it. Whenever someone asks me how I’m feeling I tell them I’m doing great. I’ve never had another chest pain. I am very lucky.”
For more information on Ringgold County Hospital cardiac rehab program, contact Jennifer England at 641-464-3226.

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